Petition with 40,000 signatures calling for Nigel Farage's arrest handed to Kentish Town police
PUBLISHED: 11:52 22 July 2016 | UPDATED: 16:03 22 July 2016
A petition was handed in at Kentish Town police station yesterday calling for the arrest of UKIP leader Nigel Farage for 'inciting racial hatred' during the EU referendum campaign.
The petition was started by Zack Newman, who grew up in Camden and now lives in Barnet, in response to the controversial “Breaking Point” poster of Syrian refugees.
Commodities broker Mr Newman said he is not normally “a political person” but felt moved to act in the few days after the referendum result.
He told the Ham&High: “I wasn’t even that strongly for Remain, although I did vote Remain. I can appreciate there might also be good reasons to leave. My views on the referendum have nothing to do with why I started the petition.
“I was just so angry about some of the rhetoric used by the Leave campaign, and that poster really was the ‘breaking point’ for me.
“Then I started hearing reports of racist abuse locally and nationally, and it confirmed to me what I had thought about things Farage and others had been saying throughout the campaign about immigration.”
Mr Newman wrote a letter to accompany the petition, which states: “We wish to lodge a formal complaint since we believe there are a number of laws in the UK that have been broken in the most serious fashion, and we believe the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) must urgently investigate if this is the case.”
It goes on to cite laws which Mr Newman believes Mr Farage has broken, including those around public order, malicious communications, equality, racial and religious hatred and crime and disorder.
The “Breaking Point” poster was used during one day of the referendum campaign on June 16, before it was withdrawn after a public outcry..
It depicted refugees and migrants crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border in 2015 - with only one white-skinned person among them.
The caption accompanying the image was: “Breaking Point: We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders.”
Mr Newman believes the poster, authorised by Mr Farage, incites racial hatred because: “The language suggests that this large group of non-white, male Muslims would ‘break’ the UK when the reality was that they were not destined for the UK.”
He is calling on the CPS to investigate whether the intention of Mr Farage and others in the leave campaign was “systematically and purposefully designed to incite and stir up fear and intolerance of ‘immigrants’ in order to procure votes.”
The petition comes in the wake of increased reports of racially aggravated crime across the country, including in areas like Camden and Barnet, where there was a clear preference to remain in the EU.
One person who signed the petition wrote: “It has become OK to harass and spout racist abuse at anyone from another country who is not white British. This has to stop ... the poster being the true ‘breaking point’ in unleashing this wave of racist behaviour.”
Mr Newman said he believes it is important that all politicians and public figures are held account for the claims they make.
He said: “The official Leave.EU campaign was publicly funded, and got £700,000 of taxpayers’ money. When they accepted this money, they agreed to abide by a handbook of rules on how to conduct themselves - and it clearly states that they were not allowed to incite religious or racial hatred, which I believe they have done.”
He added: “Even if it doesn’t have the effect of having Farage arrested, I hope that it might help to raise awareness of the fact that public figures should be held accountable for the claims they make.”
But with the country divided over the referendum, many of the comments left online about the petition are in support of Mr Farage and his views.
Mr Newman’s is one of several petitions to have gathered large numbers of signatures in the wake of the historic referendum - one of which calls for Mr Farage to be involved in the Brexit negotiations.
He said Kentish Town police received his petition “in a friendly manner” and he is awaiting a response.
UKIP and Leave.EU have been contacted for comment.