Yellow vest organiser James Goddard protesting pro-EU MPs once lived in Spain

Self-declared patriot voiced wish to move to US and called UK ‘crazy rock full of liberal arseholes’

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Saturday 12 January 2019 13:15 GMT
Anna Soubry comments on police refusing to intervene during altercation with Brexiteer men outside Parliament

A leading member of the “yellow vests” who have been disrupting Westminster with abusive anti-EU protests once lived in Spain, it has emerged.

James Goddard took advantage of the freedom of movement offered by what he now calls a “federal European superstate” to live and work in the country.

The self-declared “British patriot” has also voiced his wish to move to the US and “get off this crazy rock full of liberal arseholes”.

Mr Goddard revealed his stint as an expat in a livestream on his now-deleted Facebook account, when he spoke to a member of staff at the Labour Party’s headquarters in London in Spanish.

He was demanding to see a member of the “treacherous” party in London, but had not booked an appointment and left after threatening to make “every Labour MP’s life a living hell” on 2 January.

It was one of numerous stunts spearheaded by the 29-year-old since the UK “yellow vest” group formed in December, seeing protesters verbally abuse MPs, journalists and Remainers outside parliament, visit media and government offices and block London bridges.

Mr Goddard vowed that the group’s activities would continue after Facebook and PayPal dealt organisers a major blow by suspending his accounts.

A small number of “yellow vests” returned to Westminster on Wednesday, shouting at journalists broadcasting from outside the Houses of Parliament through a megaphone and heckling pro-Remain protesters amid a heavy police presence.

The “yellow vests” have called a national day of action on Saturday, with protests due to start in London and elsewhere at midday.

Mr Goddard set up a new fundraising page on the DonorBox website on Wednesday, writing: “They had me removed but I most certainly haven’t gone.”

Having worked in a variety of jobs, including at a hair salon, nightclub and most recently as a handyman, he has been asking for donations to support his activism.

Facebook said it had deleted his pages because of hate speech, “which creates an environment of intimidation and which may provoke real-world violence”.

Mr Goddard claims the group is not violent, but has repeatedly told police that he will “give them a war” in scuffles at protests.

Speaking to Nigel Farage’s former adviser and ex-Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam on Tuesday, he said the “yellow vests” were set up by 34 people.

“It was in regards to Brexit and generally the way the country’s going, in regards to fighting for justice [about a drink-driving accident that killed three boys], and also the erosion of our culture and history that is taking place,” Mr Goddard said.

“It’s about people who are angry and annoyed with the political class.”

Police have been monitoring the group’s activities amid calls to stop them from protesting in Westminster, and officers from the government’s counter-extremism Prevent programme visited Mr Goddard’s home on Christmas Eve.

He rejected Leicestershire Police’s offer to “give you support and keep you out of trouble” and put footage of the incident online.

Mr Goddard said he was warned that the first incident where he targeted pro-Remain MP Anna Soubry and called her a Nazi could be treated as a public order offence, and that he was a “severe influencer”.

Days later, the activist returned to Westminster and targeted Ms Soubry for a second time, sparking a wave of condemnation and action from Facebook and PayPal.

Mr Goddard had previously been a peripheral figure in the far-right, speaking at Tommy Robinson support rallies and getting into shouting matches at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park.

Having grown up on the outskirts of Leicester, he has also lived in Hemel Hempstead.

A man who used to work with Mr Goddard at the Liquid nightclub in Leicester recalled his “attitude problem” and use of the racial slur “P**i”.

The man, who did not want to be named, told The Independent: “He made it quite clear he wanted to move on to better things that never materialised.

“He pushed the limits of what he could say and do at the club … he used to call our deputy manager a ‘nonce’ all the time, that was his go-to insult.

“He had a chip on his shoulder and it was always someone else’s fault. That bitterness carried on.”

The man said he was “completely thrown” when he recognised Mr Goddard in footage of the incident with Ms Soubry.

He has been voicing far-right views online since at least August 2017, when he joined the “free speech” social network Gab.

Mr Goddard described himself as a Christian father-of-two, and “oppose of Islam and leftists”.

The majority of his hate-filled posts attacked Islam, which Mr Goddard has called a “political ideology that advocates your death”, as well as the EU, transgender people and left-wing activists.

Insulting mixed-race trans model Munroe Bergdorf, he told us to “do us all a favour and jog off back to the jungle”, before claiming that “England isn’t England anymore”.

Yellow vests scuffle with police in Whitehall on Saturday (Rex)

Mr Goddard used Gab to ask for advice on moving to the US and obtaining a green card in 2017, voicing his support for Donald Trump and writing: “Hopefully an American employer/business, will be looking at my posts and then offering me a job in states.”

During the US president’s visit to Britain, Mr Goddard protested in his support and heckled London mayor Sadiq Khan by telling him: “Trump’s welcome, you’re not. You’re a disgrace”.

In October 2017, he posted a diatribe on the Proactive Patriots website – which was taken down alongside its social media accounts on Tuesday – laying out his views.

Mr Goddard described himself as a “working-class lad from Leicester that is sick to the back teeth of mass Muslim immigration” and claimed the UK would “become an Islamic state in the next 50-75 years”.

After proposing bans on halal meet, the building of mosques and “all literature on Mohammed in public buildings”, he called for the families of all terror suspects to be deported.

In September this year, Mr Goddard went further by telling a Muslim man that he wanted to “ban Islam in the West” and “get rid” of all mosques in the UK.

“If I ever got into power I’d give you [Muslims] all £5-£10,000 and ask you to leave,” he added in a video that remains online. “I don’t believe that Islam should be in the West.”

Mr Goddard enquired about becoming a member of the far-right group Britain First, whose leaders were jailed last year, on Gab but claims he never joined.

He has also taken several selfies with Ukip leader Gerard Batten at protests but is not a party member. Mr Batten claimed he did not know who Mr Goddard was at the time.

As an avid supporter of Tommy Robinson, he has also attended protests alongside English Defence League and Football Lads’ Alliance members but says he has never been a member of a far-right group.

Mr Goddard says he has no political affiliation but on Tuesday, he called for a Momentum-like group to be created in order to “make the Tories right again”.

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