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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 January 2019

British ‘yellow vest’ leader shut down by Facebook and PayPal

James Goddard has had fundraising and livestreaming accounts closed amid concern at his activities

Hard-right activist James Goddard, right, has been a key figure in angry pro-Brexit protests outside the UK Parliament. Twitter
Hard-right activist James Goddard, right, has been a key figure in angry pro-Brexit protests outside the UK Parliament. Twitter

James Goddard, the apparent leader of the group of British ‘yellow vests’ who have been intimidating MPs and journalists in public spaces outside of the Houses of Parliament, has had his Facebook and PayPal pages shut down following growing concern at his activities.

Mr Goddard and other hardline pro-Brexit campaigners targeted the Remain-supporting Conservative MP Anna Soubry and left-wing journalist Owen Jones on Monday, interrupting media appearances by Ms Soubry, and surrounding them and bombarding them with aggressive questions.

WARNING: THIS VIDEO FEATURES OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE

The Sky News TV anchor Kay Burley was also singled out for attention, with the group chanting behind her during live TV broadcasts from College Green in Westminster. All three had previously been the subject of attacks from the protesters.

On Tuesday afternoon Mr Goddard complained on Twitter that: “So now they’ve shut down my PayPal as well as my Facebook! There’s a blatant double standard in this country and it stinks! Do you actually think you’re going to stop me! I take great offence at being called far right and fascist!”

Mr Goddard said that journalists had been to the property that he lives in with his mother: “I now have journos outside my mum's house, all for approaching a politician about her views!”

The Daily Mail newspaper also featured Mr Goddard on their Wednesday front page, revealing his links to UKIP, the main pro-Brexit movement in the country:

Facebook released a statement on Tuesday saying: “We have removed James Goddard’s Facebook pages and groups for violating our policies on hate speech. We will not tolerate hate speech on Facebook which creates an environment of intimidation and which may provoke real-world violence.”

Mr Goddard has used both accounts to attempt to raise money to support his activities, which have included livestreaming his attempts to harangue Remain-supporting politicians and journalists whose political opinions he and his followers disagree with.

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Read more:

British ‘yellow vest’ protesters abuse MP and journalists outside Parliament

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He has expressed support in the past for the far-right activist Tommy Robinson, and has made Islamophobic statements on digital media. He filmed himself confronting police on Monday shouting: “If they want a war we’ll give them a war, let’s give them a f***ing war”.

WARNING: THIS VIDEO FEATURES OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE

After the harassment of MPs was raised in the Commons chamber on Monday, speaker John Bercow wrote to Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, asking that officers intervene more forcefully.

“It is, frankly, intolerable if Members of Parliament and journalists cannot go about their lawful business without being ritually insulted, abused, intimidated, threatened and harassed,” he wrote.

“There seems to be a pattern here of a regular coterie of burly white men who are effectively targeting and denouncing Members whom they recognise and dislike – most notably female and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.”

Responding to a question in the Commons on Tuesday, Mr Bercow said: “It’s a type of fascism. Let’s be quite clear about that, it’s a type of fascism. Women and ethnic minority citizens in particular are being targeted.

“I don’t say that they’re the only people on the receiving end of this completely unacceptable behaviour but they have been and are being deliberately and disproportionately targeted. That is not acceptable and we have to ensure that something is done about it.”

Speaking to journalists, Laurence Taylor, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, said that “we’ve given a very clear direction to our officers on the ground that if they witness criminal behaviour then there is an expectation that an arrest will be made.

“And also if they witness any behaviour that is intimidating, or to an extent that it is obstructing somebody going about their normal daily routines, then we would expect an intervention to be made according to what’s happening at the time.”

Updated: January 9, 2019 04:23 AM

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