Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer during Prime Minister's Questions last year. Photo: Jessica Taylor/House of Commons via AP
Far-right Telegram groups are celebrating the harassment of UK Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer after he was mobbed by a group of anti-vax protesters on Monday shouting abuse and “Jimmy Savile.”The incident, which took place near Parliament in central London, came a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson falsely claimed that opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile when Starmer was head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). In a debate last week, Johnson accused Starmer of spending “most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile.”
Johnson called the actions of the protesters on Monday “disgraceful,” but has refused to apologise for sharing the conspiracy theory as fact. Several Tory MPs called out Johnson for failing to retract the statement.
There is no evidence that Starmer – who as Director of Public Prosecutions was the most senior figure in the CPS between 2008 and 2013 – was ever involved in the 2009 decision not to prosecute Savile while he was alive.On Monday, Starmer and Labour MP David Lammy were mobbed by anti-vax protesters, screaming “traitor” and “Jimmy Savile.” The pair were eventually moved by police into a police car for their safety. Now, Telegram groups with thousands of followers are sharing videos of Starmer’s harassment, celebrating the incident.VICE World News has seen numerous Telegram messages sharing the video of Starmer. One message on a Tommy Robinson supporter group, seen 31,000 times, reads, “Keir Starmer (Labour leader) given a warm welcome as the crowd remind him of the time he presided over the CPS and the Jimmy Savile BBC paedophilia case.”“This is what happens when you don’t investigate known paedophiles and the child victims never see justice handed out.”Others responded to the video saying, “Kier [sic] starmer deserves everything that happens to him, no sympathy,” and “Well done patriots 🏴 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 that how it's done.”
This comes after VICE World News found Johnson’s comments had bolstered a far-right conspiracy that was already well-established in extremist circles. MPs have condemned Johnson’s failure to retract the statement. Lammy told UK newspaper the Guardian it was “no surprise the conspiracy theorist thugs who harassed Keir Starmer and I repeated slurs we heard from Boris Johnson last week at the dispatch box. Intimidation, harassment and lies have no place in our democracy. And they won’t ever stop me doing my job.”Two MPs have been killed in the last five years while doing their jobs. Sir David Amess, a Conservative MP, was killed last year while meeting voters in his constituency. Jo Cox, a Labour MP, was killed in 2016 by a constituent with far-right views. Joe Mulhall, director of research at antifascism campaign group HOPE not hate, said: “The baseless accusation that Starmer was to blame for Jimmy Savile has done the rounds in far-right circles for some time now. But to hear it repeated by the prime minister was shocking. It was deeply irresponsible and clearly riled up the mob that accosted Starmer yesterday.“This is an extremely worrying example of far-right disinformation entering the mainstream at the very top of British politics. It’s absolutely no surprise that the events of last night have since been widely applauded by the British far-right. Words have power.”