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March 7, 2019

Youtube must ‘reconsider judgment’ on Tommy Robinson videos, says Culture Secretary

By PA Media Lawyer

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has urged Youtube to “reconsider their judgment” over hosting Tommy Robinson videos after Labour deputy leader Tom Watson called for them to be removed.

Watson said every other major social media platform has taken down the content from Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, because “of his hateful conduct”.

He told the House of Commons that the right-wing activist had been “banging on the door of a journalist” late at night this week, and after being led away by police returned at 5am “and continued his intimidation”.

Watson said the encounter was being live-streamed, and that Robinson later warned in a Youtube video that the journalist should “expect a knock at the door”, asking if Wright thought it “right that Youtube continues to give this man a platform”.

The journalist Mike Stuchbery has complained to police about the incident and has thanked Watson for speaking about his case in Parliament.

Writing about the incident for The Independent on Tuesday, Stuchbery said: “As I called the police, [Robinson] wailed and raved, claiming that I had placed his family in danger, scared his children, conspired with others to try to bring him down. He said he’d be back every night, that he had a list of journalists he would ‘expose’ too.”

The Cabinet minister said we all believe in freedom of speech, but added: “We all believe that that freedom of speech has limits.

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“And we believe that those who seek to intimidate others, those that seek to potentially break the law, because the description he’s given the house this morning is potentially a description of criminal behaviour, that is unacceptable.

“That is beyond the reach of the type of freedom of speech that we believe should be protected. And, as I have said, all internet companies, all platforms for this kind of speech need to take their responsibilities seriously.”

Speaking about Robinson’s profile, he added: “I hope Youtube will consider this very carefully, consider what he has said, what I have said, and reconsider their judgment”.

Watson welcomed the comments, and asked if the forthcoming White Paper on internet safety would include provisions to: “Stop hate figures, extremists and their followers turning the online world into a cesspit of hate?”

Wright replied: “No freedom of speech can survive in this country if we do not protect people’s ability to feel free to say what they think, free of intimidation, free of the threat of violence.”

Picture: Reuters/Henry Nicholls

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