Police investigate antisemitic comments posted by grime artist Wiley

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Police investigate antisemitic comments posted by grime artist Wiley

The musician has been given a seven-day Twitter ban and was dropped by his management company over accusations of anti-Semitism.

Two of Wiley's hateful tweets
Two of Wiley's hateful tweets

Police are investigating after a series of antisemitic comments were posted on grime artist Wiley’s Instagram and Twitter accounts.

The musician has been given a seven-day Twitter ban and was dropped by his management company over accusations of antisemitism.

Earlier today, the Metropolitan Police said they had received a number of reports about the tweets.

“The Met takes all reports of antisemitism extremely seriously. The relevant material is being assessed,” a spokesman said.

The musician was given an hours-long ban after tweeting a stream of comments on Friday evening, but was back online by Saturday morning telling followers he was “Back in action”.

However, he was then given a seven-day ban from the social media platform.

He also posted an Instagram video in which he said: “crawl out from under your little rocks and defend your Jewish privilege”.

Twitter was earlier accused of “ignoring antisemitism” as his tweets were still visible 12 hours after they were first posted. However, a number of tweets have now been removed.

Twitter said Wiley’s account had been temporarily locked “for violating our hateful conduct policy”.

In a statement, it added: “Abuse and harassment have no place on our service and we have policies in place – that apply to everyone, everywhere – that address abuse and harassment, violent threats, and hateful conduct.

“If we identify accounts that violate any of these rules, we’ll take enforcement action.”

Meanwhile, Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement about the Wiley posts: “There is no place for hate speech on Instagram. We have deleted content that violates our policies from this account and are continuing to investigate.”

Wiley’s manager John Woolf said A-List Management had “cut all ties” with the musician following the series of social media posts made on accounts belonging to him on Friday.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has asked police to investigate the content and called for Wiley’s accounts to be shut down “to prevent further outpouring of anti-Jewish venom”.

Mr Woolf, who is Jewish, wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning: “Following Wiley’s antisemitic tweets today we at @A_ListMGMT have cut all ties with him. There is no place in society for antisemitism.”

He had earlier said he did not support or condone what Wiley posted but that he would speak to him privately and “help educate him”.

One post on an unverified Twitter account in Wiley’s name, which Mr Woolf confirmed to the PA news agency belongs to the star, read: “I would challenge the whole world of Jewish community on my own I am not scared I can handle them.”

The social media site has come under fire for allowing the tweets to remain visible.

Independent adviser to the government on antisemitism, John Mann, said the tweets “demonstrated precisely why the law needs changing to hold them to reasonable account”.

This is not the first time the social media site has been accused of “allowing racism to run rampant”.

Last week it promoted a viral hashtag which contained numerous antisemitic tweets.

Several posts featuring anti-Jewish racism and Holocaust denial were presented to users looking at the hashtag #JewishPrivilege, which trended in the UK earlier in July.

Wiley, known as the Godfather of Grime and whose real name is Richard Cowie, received an MBE for services to music in 2018.

In a statement issued on Friday, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Our Crime Unit has reported this matter to the Metropolitan Police Service as we consider that Wiley has committed the offence of incitement to racial hatred, which can carry a substantial prison sentence.

“We have additionally asked Twitter and Facebook, which owns Instagram, to close down his accounts which have hundreds of thousands of followers, to prevent further outpouring of anti-Jewish venom.”

They added that they would be contacting the Cabinet Office to ask that Wiley’s MBE is revoked.

The spokesperson said: “Wiley has many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and we have seen today that many of them truly believe the unhinged hatred that he is spreading.

“We are treating this as a very serious matter which must be met with the firmest of responses.”

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Recent weeks have seen people around the world come together to express their revulsion at racism and people will be disgusted by Wiley’s torrent of appalling racist messages, the length of time it took Twitter to deal with them and their pathetic response.

“On top of that, he has posted some terrifying video messages on Instagram – still up there for all to see.

“This is a well-known musician with hundreds of thousands of followers, many of them young and impressionable. It’s about time these social media companies lived up to the values their users around the world expect.”

The tweets have also been condemned by the Antisemitism Policy Trust, who said the messages “inspire further hatred”.

A spokesperson said: “This is now rightly a police matter. The vile abuse and failure by social media companies to act underline the importance of the forthcoming Government Online Harms Bill.

“We took action when we saw the abuse and have been in contact with relevant authorities. It should not be continuously left up to charities and members of the public to deal with this content.”

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Artists who are public figures have the privilege of influence which brings with it a heavy responsibility. They can shape the hearts and minds of their audience and we need to see that happen for good.

“It is an abuse of that privilege to spread hatred and prejudice about the Jewish community, and we condemn it just as we condemn attacks against any other community. It is wholly unacceptable by this country’s laws and values.”

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