The Brexiteer then desperately took to Twitter to moan about the group again. Diddums.
When Nigel Farage tweeted last year that anti-racism campaigners HOPE not hate had pursued “violent and undemocratic means”, he probably didn’t expect much to come from it.
But the untruth – a libel in fact – against the UK’s largest (and well-respected) anti-racism group did not go unnoticed. The campaigners have spent years peacefully campaigning against everyone from the BNP in Barking and Dagenham to the EDL in Luton and across the country.
Yet Farage chose to use his platform on LBC radio last December to respond to a Twitter exchange with Jo Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox.
The former UKIP leader said, in a now-deleted tweet:
“Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise. Events like these will be the Merkel legacy”.
Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, responded on Twitter:
“@Nigel_Farage blaming politicians for the actions of extremists? That’s a slippery slope Nigel”.
The following day, 20 December, Mr Farage was asked about Mr Cox’s tweet. He responded:
“Yes, well of course he would know more about extremists than me, Mr Cox. He backs organisations like HOPE not hate, who masquerade as being lovely and peaceful, but actually pursue violent and undemocratic means.”
His remarks were picked up by the media – and HOPE not hate reportedly received a barrage of messages on social media accusing it of extremism, fascism and violence.
So the group sent a request to Farage to apologise and retract his statement. That was ignored. HnH then launched a crowdfunder, supported by 16,000 people, to begin a libel action against the former UKIP leader.
Yesterday, Nigel Farage formerly retracted his comments – after almost a year-long out of court legal dispute.
In a statement filed with the High Court, Mr Farage said:
“Having now considered the position further I am happy to acknowledge that Hope not Hate does not tolerate or pursue violent or undemocratic behaviour.”
It was welcomed by HOPE not hate chief executive Nick Lowles, who said:
“The case was about the truth and about HOPE not hate saying no to Nigel Farage’s attempts to smear us. For too long right-wing politicians have got away with smearing and abusing their opponents. We drew a line in the sand and ‘no more’…
“We also hope this case sends a wider signal to right-wing politicians that smearing people will no longer be accepted.”
Yet despite Farage agreeing not to repeat his claim or allow anyone else to do so on his behalf, the Brexiteer couldn’t resist taking to Twitter to try and undermine the group again:
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) November 14, 2017
It has started another battle with the campaigners.
“Farage is clutching at straws and trying to find any crumb of comfort; this is not a victory for him, it’s a humiliation.
“He has retracted his statement and acknowledged we are not the violent organisation he claimed. He has made a promise to the court not to repeat it.
“We are now putting others on notice, including Raheem Kassam of Breitbart [who has crowdfunded to ‘investigate’ the group], that we will not accept their falsehoods and smears.
“In a desperate attempt to save face, Nigel Farage is creating a smokescreen about costs. We agreed to pay our own. According to Farage’s own lawyers, this will mean he has to pay in access of £100,000.”
As Lowles said, “On every account this is a huge victory for HOPE not hate.”
Farage can whine on Twitter all he wants – those who want to smear progressives had better think again.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.