The Metropolitan Police are doubtless pursuing Darren Grimes as the publisher of the David Starkey interview as well as the interviewer. That doesn’t make the decision any less sinister.
Such non-Conservatives as Tim Farron and Nick Cohen suggest that the Met’s decision to interview Grimes under caution is wrong. Our readers are likely to agree. So we won’t waste words attempting to talk them into a view they hold already.
Instead, we ask for the Met to be held to account for its push to curb free speech. Did Cressida Dick approve the decision?
If she did, she needs to explain why it doesn’t represent a vendetta by the force against an innocent man who won in court against the established might of the Electoral Commission. If she didn’t, and the officers have never heard of Grimes (or the Commission either), she should make it clear why they are pursuing him.
It will be claimed that this decision is an operational rather than a strategic matter, but there comes a point when the first blurs into the second.
Is it now Met policy to muzzle free speech, and intimidate journalists in this way. There are three potential sources of accountability: the Mayor of London, the Home Secretary, and the Home Affairs Select Committee. Sadiq Khan will do nothing.
Priti Patel has tweeted for freedom of speech, but has fallen into the trap of seeing this incident as an operational matter only.
She should haul in Dick for an interview without coffee, and get the bottom of who in the Met made this decision, and why. We gather that Tim Loughton, a member of the Select Committee, intends to raise the case when it meets this week. Good for him.
Meanwhile, Karl Turner, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Legal Aid, tweeted: “Freedom of speech Darren doesn’t afford people the freedom to make racist remarks or generally offend”.
But its inherent to free speech that it will sometimes offend, and it’s important to note that at least one member of Keir Starmer’s front bench either doesn’t get the point, don’t understand it, or don’t care. The tweet has since been deleted.
The last word on the Met’s decision belongs to Kristian Niemietz of the Institute of Economic Affairs, who tweeted the following yesterday:
-“Hello? Police? I think there’s a burglar in my house…”
-“Sorry, we’re a little busy right now.” -“
…and the burglar just muttered something that sounded a bit like “All lives matter.””
-“We’re on our way.”