Sunday Column: Why is Darren Grimes being investigated by the police.

Darren Grimes

By Derek W Gardiner

It has emerged that Darren Grimes, a Conservative podcast host, is being investigated for stirring up racial hatred due to remarks made by the historian Dr David Starkey on his podcast in June. Grimes posted a video saying that he was contacted by the Metropolitan Police and told that if he did not attend an interview with him then he would be arrested.

The Public Order Act s.21 states that a person can be found guilty of stirring up racial hatred if they make a recording and by doing so "he intends thereby to stir up racial hatred or having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby." It should be clear that Mr Grimes did not intend to stir up racial hatred. This has gotten so bizarre that not only the right but some figures on the woke left have come out in defence of Mr Grimes because he had no control over how any of his guests might answer a question.

It raises serious questions about how protected freedom of speech is in Britain. Granted there has never been an absolute right to freedom of speech under British law but it was always protected by the courts and by the British principles of common sense and mutual respect. Historically political dissidents from around the world would come to Britain in order to be able to criticise their own governments without the threat of being locked up or made to disappear.

In recent years however the walls have been closing in. Legislation such as the Public Order Act and the proposed Hate Crime legislation threaten to curtail what can and cannot be said if interpreted in the wrong way. Now we see Julian Assange locked up in Belmarsh prison for telling the truth. Added to this the onset of cancel culture where not being 100% in tune with the latest woke lunacy can land your career in hot water, is it any wonder that the next step after destrorying someone's career would be to use the law against them.

It doesn't even seem to be enough that you don't express certain opinions yourself, you now cannot host an interview with or appear on a platform with someone with these forbidden views even if you yourself disagree with them. Journalistic freedom is dying in this country if even the interviewer is held liable for comments that never even crossed his mind. Where would it end? last week a panellist on Frankie Boyle's New World Order show made remarks about "killing whitey", should Frankie Boyle or the BBC be charged? My answer to that would still be no.

I don't think Mr Grimes will be prosecuted now that he has made enough of a public uproar but who else may fall through the cracks. It could be anyone left or right in their views. IF you respect your own right to freedom of speech, no matter how objectively right you think your views are then you must respect it for everyone else also.

The 6 pm curfew and alcohol ban has no scientific basis.

Edinburgh Evening News

It seems that we will all be going sober for October by government edict. The latest Cromwellian decree from Sturgeon is that pubs will be banned from selling alcohol and must close at 6 pm why? Because the virus only comes out after 6 pm it used to be 10 pm but somehow it set its alarm clock early and Nicola said so, so you all just need to shut up and believe more.

A statement was made to the Scottish Parliament, which seems to be rapidly turning into a purely ceremonial and rubber stamping body, and of course, no vote took place on these measures. She put aside £40 million to mitigate the impact of this. That's right the government put aside money to mitigate the impact of their own policy, you could not make this up. It would be a bit like banging your own face deliberately and repeatedly against a door and then paying a surgeon to stitch it up.

The hospitality industry in Scotland has not taken this lying down, owners and employees of local pubs dumped ice outside government buildings and warned the government that this would cost thousands of jobs in the sector.

The hospitality sector has been disproportionately blamed for causing the spread of the virus even though only around 5% of cases occur in these venues. Instead of targeting hospitality the Scottish government should start doing more basic things like testing care home and home care workers and dealing effectively with hospital outbreaks. This all just seems to have gone from being about protecting people's health to going down an authoritarian and puritanical path. It must end.