Police are investigating conservative commentator Darren Grimes on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred over a horrific “racist” interview with historian David Starkey.
Starkey was widely condemned in June when, in an interview with Grimes, he claimed that slavery was not a genocide because “so many damn Blacks” survived. He subsequently resigned or was fired from a number of senior fellowship and positions.
Now, Grimes is being investigated by police for the public order offence of stirring up racial hatred after he published Starkey’s comments in a podcast interview, according to The Telegraph.
The commentator, who has faced backlash from LGBT+ people on numerous occasions for invalidating trans and non-binary people’s identities, lashed out at the investigation in a video posted to Twitter.
In the video, he said he Metropolitan Police told him in a letter that he must present for an interview and that he would be arrested if he failed to attend.
Darren Grimes admitted that he should have been ‘more robust’ in questioning David Starkey’s ‘racist’ remarks.
“I’ve been accused of stirring up racial hatred for an interview I did with Dr Starkey back in June. Now to me, this is just such an outrageous abuse of taxpayer cash, and the trust that we have in the police as citizens, so much so that at first I couldn’t really believe it was real.”
He went on to criticise the way Starkey has been “airbrushed from history” and admitted that he should have been “more robust” in questioning the historian when he made his remarks about slavery on the podcast.
Grimes defended himself from criticism by claiming that journalists should be allowed to interview those who make controversial remarks and said the police’s decision to investigate him will have a “chilling effect” on free speech.
In a statement provided to The Telegraph, Scotland Yard said: “On July 4, the Metropolitan Police Service was passed an allegation from Durham Police of a public order offence relating to a social media video posted online on June 30. The matter is currently being investigated. No arrests.”
Starkey faced significant backlash when he made his remarks on Grimes’ podcast in June.
Writing on Twitter at the time, former chancellor Sajid Javid branded Starkey’s comments as “racist” and said they were a “reminder of the appalling views that still exist”.
Meanwhile, Fitzwilliam College, a branch of Cambridge University at which Starkey held an honorary fellowship, said his comments were “indefensible”.
“We support and promote freedom of speech in our academic community, but we have zero tolerance of racism,” the college said in a statement released at the time.
Grimes was widely criticised in July after he released his interview with Starkey. Political commentator Adam Schwarz said at the time that Starkey was a “well known racist” and questioned why Grimes had chosen to give him a platform.
Others criticised Grimes for “nodding” along while Starkey made his comments.