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Interview with Canterbury historian David Starkey sparks Metropolitan Police probe

A probe has been launched following an interview in which a Kent historian claimed slavery was not genocide due to the survival of "so many damn blacks".

Tudor expert David Starkey, from Canterbury village Barham, made the comments during an appearance on little-known YouTube channel Reasoned in June.

David Starkey
David Starkey

And it has now been confirmed by the Metropolitan Police that the force is investigating host Darren Grimes over the video.

A spokesman for the force said: "On July 4, we were 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.”

The spokesman added that no arrests have been made.

Dr Starkey made the offensive statement while talking to the Mr Grimes about the Black Lives Matter movement and the history curriculum.

Metropolitan Police chiefs have confirmed that Darren Grimes is being investigated following his interview with David Starkey
Metropolitan Police chiefs have confirmed that Darren Grimes is being investigated following his interview with David Starkey

During the interview with the Brexit campaigner, the historian, 75, said: "Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?

“An awful lot of them survived and again there’s no point in arguing against globalisation or Western civilisation. They are all products of it, we are all products of it.

“The honest teaching of the British Empire is to say, quite simply, it is the first key stage of our globalisation.

“It is probably the most important moment in human history and it is still with us.”

In a video posted online yesterday, Mr Grimes claimed the police investigation could have "a chilling effect on freedom of expression”.

The campus at Christ Church University
The campus at Christ Church University

The activist added: “I was contacted by the Metropolitan Police and told that if I didn't attend a voluntary interview with them, I'd be arrested.

"I've been accused of stirring up racial hatred for an interview I did with Dr Starkey back in June.

"To me, this is such an outrageous abuse of taxpayer cash.

"Where does setting this precedent get us if journalists and broadcasters are arrested if the people they're interviewing say things that can be classed as likely to stir up hatred?"

In the wake of backlash from the interview, Dr Starkey resigned his honorary fellowship at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, while Canterbury Christ Church University terminated his role as visiting professor , branding his comments “completely unacceptable”.

The interview also prompted former Chancellor Sajid Javid to brand the comments racist and a "reminder of the appalling views that still exist".

Dr Starkey issued an apology in July, in which he said his “principal regret” was that his “blundering use of language” could endanger people’s right to freedom of speech.

“It was intended to emphasise, in hindsight with awful clumsiness, the numbers who survived the horrors of the slave trade," he said.

"Instead, it came across as a term of racial abuse.

“This, in the present atmosphere, where passions are high and feelings raw, was deplorably inflammatory.

“It was a bad mistake. I am very sorry for it and I apologise unreservedly for the offence it caused.”

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