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BBC accused of falsely linking ambush of Keir Starmer to Boris Johnson

The BBC was today accused of falsely blaming Boris Johnson for inciting the rag-tag mob of professional protesters who aggressively harangued Sir Keir Starmer after he ‘walked into an anti-vaccination demonstration’.

Viewers have slammed the corporation’s ‘ridiculous’ and ‘hysterical’ coverage of the ugly incident, claiming they have incorrectly blamed it on the Prime Minister’s criticism of Sir Keir Starmer’s failure to put Jimmy Savile in the dock and allowed false comparisons to Donald Trump egging on the Capitol Hill riots. 

On BBC Breakfast this morning political correspondent Chris Mason said the incident had meant the ‘row is burning again’. He said there was now more pressure on the PM to ‘say sorry or withdraw his original false allegation’. He added: ‘It all falls into the pot marked “Boris Johnson’s future”. That is a bubbling pot and has been for some time and will continue to be as a result of what happened last night’.

Tory MP Michael Fabricant told MailOnline that while the abuse Sir Keir suffered was ‘unacceptable’ – the BBC had zeroed in on ‘one person’ yelling about Jimmy Savile when the vast majority were angry about his leadership of the Labour party. 

He told MailOnline: ‘I think the BBC has to ask itself some serious questions about its standard of reporting regarding the Keir Starmer incident yesterday. Clear evidence emerging shows that he walked into an anti-vaccination demonstration calling for the overthrow over the government and the release of Julian Assange.

‘One person referred to Jimmy Savile. This was not why he was bundled into a police car for his protection. It is the obligation of the BBC to report the facts, not what is politically convenient for some of their journalists.’ 

The group of mainly left-wing agitators from the ‘Resistance GB’ group, which included Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers, had gathered in Westminister to protest against Covid-19 vaccines, the proposed extradition of Julian Assange to the US and in solidarity with the ongoing Canadian Freedom Rally.

They spotted the Labour leader and his Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy leaving New Scotland Yard and sprinted across to abuse them, forcing police to step in and guard the men. Sir Keir was bundled into a police car with a man and a woman arrested.

But Boris Johnson’s supporters have reacted with fury to the BBC’s coverage, which immediately focussed on calls by Labour for the PM to apologise over his claims Sir Keir ‘used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile’ while director of public prosecutions (DPP).

One viewer who watched the BBC’s coverage this morning said: ‘These were Corbyn supporters, a rentamob. Truth is that our media, especially the BBC, have carried out a vendetta against Boris and made everyone angry. Same as happened in the States to Trump and just as dishonest’.

Another said: ‘BBC again this morning, blaming a Piers Corbyn protest on Boris. It’s ridiculous’. While one angry Radio 4 listener said: ‘The BBC doesn’t really care if the ‘mob’ was right-wing, left-wing or no wing at all. Just as long as they can use it as another brickbat to throw at the hated Boris Johnson – and bait their largely anti-Boris, anti-Brexit listeners’. MailOnline has asked the BBC to comment.

Dramatic footage showed the Labour leader being shouted at as he walked in Westminster after leaving New Scotland Yard while surrounded by police officers shortly before 5pm 

Scotland Yard later said two arrests were made after Sir Keir was escorted to safety. Above: Sir Keir gets into a Police car

Scotland Yard later said two arrests were made after Sir Keir was escorted to safety. Above: Sir Keir gets into a Police car

The BBC's coverage has been criticised by viewers who say Boris is being falsely compared to Trump

The BBC’s coverage has been criticised by viewers who say Boris is being falsely compared to Trump

Boris refuses to say sorry for Savile ‘slur’ after hate mob targets Starmer 

Boris Johnson is today defying calls from Tories and his own adviser on political violence to withdraw his Jimmy  Savile ‘slur’ at Keir Starmer – after the Labour leader was mobbed by protesters near Parliament.   

The PM is refusing to apologise following the dramatic scenes of Sir Keir being surrounded and abused at as he walked in Westminster after leaving New Scotland Yard shortly before 5pm. 

Police shielded him and led him to a marked car as the protesters continued to swarm around him him shouting about Savile, hurling baseless allegations about him ‘protecting paedophiles’ and also branding him a ‘traitor’.

The protesters, who included anti-vaccine activist Piers Corbyn, had descended on London yesterday in support of Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ of truck drivers in Ottawa. Scotland Yard later said two arrests were made after Sir Keir was escorted to safety.

MailOnline understands the Parliamentary authorities are now urgently looking into how the situation was allowed to spiral – with questions over why Sir Keir was escorted through the mob rather than taken to safety, and why he had not been driven from inside the secure estate. 

There are also wider concerns about the lack of control on protests immediately outside the democratic hub. ‘Something will go wrong,’ one source warned. ‘Yesterday was proof of that.’

Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle held talks with Mr Johnson’s new chief of staff Steve Barclay last night, urging No10 to help ‘change Parliament’ and use ‘temperate language’. But officials insist the Speaker cannot take any action because the PM did not say anything disorderly.   

Last night, Boris Johnson tweeted to say that the abuse hurled at Sir Keir was ‘absolutely disgraceful’ – but he did not comment on the Savile row.

The PM said: ‘The behaviour directed at the Leader of the Opposition tonight is absolutely disgraceful. All forms of harassment of our elected representatives are completely unacceptable. I thank the police for responding swiftly.’

Videos of the incident, posted to social media, showed the protesters surrounding the Labour leader, with some heard shouting ‘you’re a f***ing traitor’. 

Others voices on video were also screaming ‘You are the leader of the opposition – why aren’t you standing up for our constitution? For the working classes of this country. What about the working people of this country? Aren’t you meant to be the opposition?

‘What has happened to Labour? Why did you go after Julian Assange? Why did you target a journalist?’

Witnesses also claimed some of the mob yelled ‘Jimmy Savile’ and ‘protecting paedophiles’ at him.  

The Prime Minister’s critics have insisted he should apologise with Labour’s Chris Bryant declaring: The fact that the braying crowd recited the prime minister’s vicious slurs would have counted as a victory for Johnson. He had achieved his aim. They were ventriloquising him. He had incited them. There was malice aforethought.

‘It’s remarkably reminiscent of a year ago, with the storming of the Capitol on 6 January 2021. Silence and refusing to apologise doesn’t cut it. He has to completely withdraw what he said, and do so abjectly.’ 

But Tory minister Chris Phil said today: ‘I don’t think there is any way you can reasonably suggest that the comments on Keir Starmer’s overall responsibility for the CPS in any way provoked the very unseemly and totally unacceptable harassment we saw last night.’ 

While former cabinet minister Peter Lilley told Newsnight: ‘I think we’re all getting a bit precious about this, both sides are saying the person at the top of the organisation is responsible for what happens further down…both sides should prob apologise and stop making personal remarks.’   

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the abuse aimed at Sir Keir Starmer was ‘completely unacceptable’ but insisted Boris Johnson’s comments were not to blame.

He told ITV that Mr Johnson made a ‘fair and reasonable point’ that ‘somebody at the top of an organisation has responsibility for what happens in it’, in relation to Sir Keir’s former role as director of public prosecutions.

‘That’s no excuse for people to behave the way they did last night and we shouldn’t give them that excuse either,’ he added.

Amid ugly scenes, Sir Keir and his shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, were confronted by an angry crowd as they walked along Embankment in central London yesterday afternoon.

The pair had apparently been returning from a briefing on Ukraine at the Ministry of Defence when they ran into a mob of anti-vaxx demonstrators protesting over Covid measures.  

Boris Johnson out running this morning

Dramatic footage showed the Labour leader (pictured this morning) being shouted at as he walked in Westminster after leaving New Scotland Yard while surrounded by police officers shortly before 5pm

Boris Johnson (left this morning) is refusing to apologise following the dramatic scenes of Keir Starmer (right) being surrounded and abused at as he walked in Westminster after leaving New Scotland Yard shortly before 5pm 

What is the TRUTH behind PM’s Jimmy Savile ‘smear’ on Keir Starmer? 

A fresh faced Keir Starmer when he was appointed DPP in 2008. An inquiry would later clear him of any involvement in the failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile

A fresh faced Keir Starmer when he was appointed DPP in 2008. An inquiry would later clear him of any involvement in the failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile

Boris Johnson has accused former director of public prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer of having ‘used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile‘.

But the Labour leader has said Mr Johnson is ‘debasing himself by going so low’ by repeating ‘a ridiculous slur peddled by right wing trolls’.  

In 2012 a QC-led inquiry exonerated Sir Keir, finding he was not involved in the decision not to put Savile in the dock two years before he died, blaming it on hapless starstruck police officers and an incurious local prosecutor. 

During Sir Keir’s tenure as director of public prosecutions from 2008 to 2013, detectives had sought advice from the CPS on four allegations that Savile had sexually assaulted girls and young women in the 1970s.

In October 2009, the CPS reviewing lawyer with responsibility for the cases advised that since none of the complainants was ‘prepared to support any police action’, no prosecutions could be brought. 

Savile, who abused 500 women and children, died in 2011 without facing justice. 

In 2012, after it became clear the Top of the Pops host had attacked and abused hundreds of children and women in hospitals, schools and while filming his BBC shows, an inquiry was carried out Alison Levitt QC, on Mr Starmer’s own orders. 

In 2013z her report found that the decision was made by police and prosecutors locally, not Sir Keir, who was unaware of it. The CPS would also say there was ‘no reference to any involvement from the DPP in the decision-making within a report examining the case.’ 

Alison Levitt QC found that police treated the victims and the accounts they gave ‘with a degree of caution which was neither justified nor required’. 

Savile also made veiled threats against officers if sexual abuse allegations against him did not ‘disappear’. 

Detectives looking at allegations advised the CPS not to prosecute Savile, believing his explanation that it was all made up and the price of being famous. 

Ms Levitt was also critical of the approach taken by the CPS’ reviewing lawyer, but did not suggest that Mr Starmer was personally involved in the decisions made.

The lawyer was also criticised for failing to properly build a case with the police or spot inconsistencies in their reports after interviewing Savile under caution and four of his victims. 

As head of the CPS, Sir Keir later apologised, admitting the failure to prosecute Savile was a ‘watershed moment’ for the organisation. But avoided any admonishment in Ms Levitt’s report.

He said: ‘I would like to take the opportunity to apologise for the shortcomings in the part played by the CPS in these cases.

‘These were errors of judgement by experienced and committed police officers and a prosecuting lawyer acting in good faith and attempting to apply the correct principles. That makes the findings of Ms Levitt’s report more profound and calls for a more robust response.’ 

Lawyer turned Labour leader Sir Keir then left in 2013 to pursue a career in politics. 

 

Eventually, police officers stepped in to protect Sir Keir, before he was bundled into a police car and driven away to another entrance to Parliament. Sources said afterwards that he was ‘fine – it wasn’t pleasant, but he is fine’.

Last night, the incident sparked a fresh row over Boris Johnson’s controversial attack on Sir Keir last week in which the PM accused the Labour leader of having ‘used his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile’ while director of public prosecutions (DPP).

Although Mr Johnson later clarified that he hadn’t meant the Labour was personally responsible for the decision not to prosecute.

Some Tory MPs said that he should now withdraw the attack in full.

Julian Smith, the former Tory chief whip, tweeted: ‘What happened to Keir Starmer tonight outside parliament is appalling. It is really important for our democracy & for his security that the false Savile slurs made against him are withdrawn in full.’

Tory MP Robert Largan added: ‘I agree with Julian. Words matter. What we say & how we say it echoes out far beyond Parliament. It can have serious real world consequences. Elected representatives have a responsibility to lower the temperature of debate, not add fuel to the fire.’

The Labour MP Chris Bryant went further, accusing the PM of ‘inciting violence’ and of recycling ‘lies from hard-right conspiracy theorists’.

After the incident, Mr Lammy said it was ‘no surprise the conspiracy theorist thugs who harassed’ Sir Keir and himself ‘repeated’ Mr Johnson’s attack. 

There were angry clashes with police after Sir Keir was escorted into a police car on the Victoria Embankment shortly after 5pm.

Footage posted to social media showed Piers Corbyn, the Covid-19 conspiracy theorist, addressing the crowd before the incident and later leading chants of ‘resist, defy, do not comply’.

Video showed Sir Keir, surrounded by police, being followed down the street while being targeted with shouts of ‘why aren’t you opposing’.

‘Why did you go after Julian Assange, why did you go after journalists?’ one man shouted.

After he was taken to safety, an officer was called a ‘pathetic little thug’ during angry exchanges.

Protesters were seen displaying signs opposing mandatory vaccination and the use of restrictions to prevent Covid-19 deaths.

Scotland Yard said two arrests were made following the clashes. Posts online suggest the protestors were referring to themselves as a ‘UK freedom convoy’.

It comes after a ‘freedom convoy’ protest in Canada against mandatory Covid vaccinations led to major traffic jams and declarations of a state of emergency.

It comes after Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove was targeted by anti-lockdown protesters who shouted obscenities at him as he walked alone in Westminster.

He was accosted by people who surrounded him and hurled insults including ‘absolute w*****’ and ‘****ing idiot’.

One person pointed a camera in his face and asked him ‘how do you justify the illegal lockdown being pushed on this country?’ while another appeared to shout ‘arrest Michael Gove’.

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and the journalists Nick Watt and Jeremy Vine were also targeted.

A Metropolitan Police statement said: ‘Shortly after 5.10pm on Monday, February 7, a man who had been surrounded by a group of protesters near to New Scotland Yard, was taken away from the scene by a police car.

‘A man and a woman were arrested at the scene for assault of an emergency worker after a traffic cone was thrown at a police officer.

‘They have been taken into custody.’


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