The Society of Editors (SoE) has said news that internet commentator Darren Grimes has been recorded as carrying out a non-crime hate incident for an interview with historian David Starkey is deeply concerning.
Last week the Met Police announced it had dropped its investigation into claims Grimes had broken the Public Order Act by carrying comments made by the Mr Starkey regarding black people. An investigation into Mr Starkey was also dropped.
However, yesterday Grimes reported on his Twitter account and YouTube site – Reasoned UK – that he had been informed by the Met they were recording a ‘non-crime hate crime’ against him.
In a statement Grimes said: “@metpoliceUK say they have, even after dropping their investigation into the vexatious claim that I stirred up racial hatred for interviewing somebody, recorded the incident as a non-crime hate crime. Adding to the UK’s hate crime (thought crime) stats. Utterly insane.”
He added: “ This move by the police could preclude me from seeking employment as a teacher or a carer in the future, it will now show up on my criminal record if an employer carries out an enhanced DBS check.
“Our supposedly Conservative Government ought to halt this chilling effect on freedom of expression by reminding British policing that they are not the Stasi, the Cheka or the Gestapo. Fortunately, the brilliant team at the Free Speech Union are now on the case.”
Ian Murray, executive director at the SoE said the decision was a blow to free journalism in this country.
“Although this is a not a criminal conviction it is still very much a stain on the character of Darren Grimes which now sits on his record. This decision fails to understand the role of an interviewer in reporting what an interview subject has said, even if their words are upsetting to some.
“We are in very dangerous territory where the police can carry out an investigation into a journalist, exonerate them of any crime but still label them as having carried out a form of hate incident with all the connotations such a label carries. This can have nothing but a chilling effect on our free media and we will be seeking to raise our concerns with the Home Secretary and others.”