LBC presenter Maajid Nawaz has left the broadcaster “with immediate effect” after pressure was put on both internally and externally over tweets he posted about Covid-19 vaccinations.
Nawaz, who first joined the station in September 2016 and presented on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm to 4pm, said it was not his decision to leave.
LBC said in a statement: “Maajid Nawaz’s contract with LBC is up very shortly and following discussions with him, Maajid will no longer present a show on LBC with immediate effect. We thank Maajid for the contribution he has made to LBC and wish him well.”
Nawaz tweeted that he had been scheduled to appear on air on Saturday and that his contract was not due to expire until April. He said: “I did not quit.”
He asked followers to subscribe to his newsletter on Substack, telling them the show was his family’s “only source of income”.
Press Gazette understands that Nawaz’s tweets in recent months have brought both internal and external pressure on LBC management to take action.
The news of his departure came shortly after he posted a tweet linking news of mandatory vaccinations for over-50s in Italy to “a global palace coup that suspends our rights… by a network of fascists who seek a New World Order”.
That tweet, however, was only one of a long list of statements he has made recently disputing the efficacy of vaccination over “natural immunity”.
Another tweet last month, for example, said: “I’m trying to show you in real time how you’re being targeted by state PsyOps & manipulative behavioural psychology.”
Nawaz’s tweet about the New World Order came on the one-year anniversary of the 2021 storming of the US Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
He tweeted the same day that “the family of Ashli Babbitt will see justice through due process”, referring to a protestor shot dead inside the US legislative building.
Last month he tweeted: “I have had no choice but to become a CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR in #solidarity with the UNVACCINATED. I will NOT be getting any BOOSTERS.”
Fellow LBC presenter Iain Dale responded: “In 11 years on LBC I have never publicly called out a fellow presenter. But I can’t stand by while this sort of irresponsible and dangerous propaganda is spread by someone who ought to know better. Shame on you, Maajid.”
Nawaz appears to have been removed from the LBC website’s list of presenters — but the page has not been reformatted, leaving a conspicuous hole.
The Guardian reported on Nawaz’s “fascination with conspiracies” in January of last year.
Nawaz’s firing from LBC echoes the 2017 departure of controversial commentator Katie Hopkins.
One former LBC staff member told Press Gazette: “There’s often a sense with LBC that they keep these sort of shock jockeys on until they really have to get rid of them.
“I know with Katie Hopkins there was a lot of internal strife and a lot of people quite eager to get rid of her, and it was only when she had a comment essentially calling for a genocide that they had to get rid of her.
“But I think for as long as they can monetise the shock they keep these people on, even if there’s a lot of internal strife about that.
“From an uninformed perspective, I’d imagine that was probably happening [in Nawaz’s case].”
In May 2017 Hopkins tweeted of that month’s Manchester terror attack that “we need a final solution.”
She subsequently deleted the tweet, saying in a follow up: “Tweet acknowledged as a mis-type. Amended. Corrected live on TV. Do not load me with your bile.”
Hopkins left LBC three days later. The station announced her departure in a tweet similar to that bidding farewell to Nawaz: “LBC and Katie Hopkins have agreed that Katie will leave LBC effective immediately.”
Nawaz made his name as the founder of anti-extremism think tank Quilliam, which he set up after he himself was radicalised into, and then de-radicalised from, an extremist Islamic group.