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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's false claim that opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer failed to prosecute notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile when he was head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is being shared widely in far-right Telegram groups.Johnson used parliamentary privilege – a form of legal immunity enjoyed by MPs within the House of Commons – to falsely accuse Starmer of not prosecuting Savile. The remark came during an exchange in Parliament in which Johnson was meant to be apologising after the release of a redacted report detailing COVID lockdown breaches in Downing Street.
VICE World News has seen numerous Telegram messages showing the proliferation of this false claim following Johnson's statement, calling Labour Party leader Starmer “pro-pedo”. After Savile’s death in 2011, the mainstay of BBC light entertainment was accused of hundreds of assaults by children as young as 8. 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 by the body not to prosecute Savile while he was alive.Many of the Telegram groups seen by VICE World News have tens of thousands of followers. A channel for supporters of far-right figure Tommy Robinson, has over 16,000 members, while one sharing information related to conspiracy-theorist Mark Steele, has over 20,000. “Yesterday Boris publicly outs Keir Starmar [sic] as the partying pedo protecting hypocrite he is,” read a comment posted today on the Tommy Robinson Telegram channel. “Beginning to wonder if Boris might be one of the good guys.”One message shared a YouTube clip of Boris Johnson’s comment from COVID-sceptic radio host Alex Belfield, entitled: “BREAKING 😱 WOW 😯 Boris Blames Keir For Letting Off Evil BBC Savile 👏 HUGE STARMER FAIL.” The video has been watched over 137,000 times since it was posted yesterday.
Another false comment lists Savile's record with the CPS, “The man that decided there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge Savile, is now the ‘leader’ of the UK Labour government party.”Johnson's claim about Starmer was already a well-established far-right talking point. One viral message on the Mark Steele group, seen 5,300 times from August 2021, shows Starmer being called “Savile’s protector.”Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab appeared on TV and radio news shows on Tuesday morning to defend the Prime Minister’s response to a report about rule-breaking at Downing Street. When asked about the Savile claim, Raab refused to repeat it, saying that he “doesn’t have the facts” to back it up. The idea that senior figures are covering up for paedophiles is a well-worn conspiracy theory that is recycled throughout various movements. The 2016 “pizzagate” conspiracy theory falsely claimed that a pizza shop in Washington DC was the location for sex crimes against children involving celebrities. During the Trump campaign, QAnon conspiracy supporters falsely claim the existence of a satanic paedophile ring run by celebrities and politicians in Washington DC.