40,000 lodge complaint with police accusing Farage and Leave.EU campaign of inciting racial and religious hatred

Exclusive: Move comes in response to the campaign’s ‘Breaking Point’ poster that depicted Syrian refugees crossing a border in central Europe

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Thursday 21 July 2016 09:19 BST
Nigel Farage unveils the controversial on the morning of 16 June
Nigel Farage unveils the controversial on the morning of 16 June (Rex)

Nearly 40,000 people have lodged a complaint with the police alleging that Nigel Farage incited racial and religious hatred during the European Union referendum campaign.

A statement signed by over 39,800 people alleging the offence, was handed into officers at Kentish Town police station at 12.30pm on 20 July 2016. The alleged crime was issued with a reference number by police.

Figures released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council earlier this month show a 42 per cent spike in race and religious hate crimes during and in the wake of the EU referendum campaign.

5 of the worst things Nigel Farage has said about immigration

Ukip leader Mr Farage faced criticism during the course of the campaign after he made a number of public statements and unveiled a controversial poster that attracted significant criticism.

The so-called “Breaking Point” poster, unveiled by Mr Farage on the morning of 16 June, depicted Syrian refugees crossing a border in central Europe, thousands of miles from the UK. Critics noted that it only depicted ethnic minorities and that its text appeared to equate the EU with immigration from the Middle East.

The statement is handed in at Kentish Town police station
The statement is handed in at Kentish Town police station

Campaign rhetoric referenced in the police complaint include such reported statements by Mr Farage as:

  • “I think its legitimate to say that if people feel we have lost control of our borders completely, and we have lost control of our borders completely as members of the European union, and if people feel that voting doesn’t change anything, then violence is the next step.”
  • “When Isil say they will use the migrant tide to flood Europe with 500,000 of their own jihadists, I think we better listen.”
  • “If you allow the unlimited access to huge number of young males into the European continent, who come from countries where women are at best, second-class citizens, don’t be surprised if scenes that we saw in Cologne don’t happen more often.” 

Incidents of hate crimes reported on social media since the reported hate crime surge began tend to involve members of the public telling people speaking foreign languages – or simply people who are not white – to “leave” or “go home”.

Others involve racist anti-immigrant graffiti, such as that daubed on the Polish cultural centre in Hammersmith, west London.

Zack Newman, who created the petition on Change.org in response to the Leave.EU ‘Breaking Point’ poster said: “We need to send a clear signal that in all political campaigns and public life, racism and religious intolerance cannot be used to attract support.”

One petitioner, Angie Porter, said that in her opinion, Mr Farage is personally responsible for stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment (aimed not just at EU migrants all migrants), and that he did so in the pursuit of his own political goals.

She added: “A swift and serious response to this dangerous and unacceptable behaviour is the only way for the UK to demonstrate that racist politics will not be tolerated.”

The Independent has contacted Ukip and Leave.EU for comment on this story.

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