Starmer confirms he received death threats following Johnson’s Savile slur

Labour leader says the Prime Minister’s controversial comments ‘fed into’ a ‘right-wing conspiracy theory’, and this caused ‘difficulty’.

14 February 2022

Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed he received death threats following Boris Johnson’s false claim that he failed to prosecute paedophile Jimmy Savile.

The Labour leader said the Prime Minister’s slur had “fed into” a “right-wing conspiracy theory”, and this had caused “difficulty”.

But he said he would rather not talk about the matter because he did not want his young children to hear “too much” of what may be said about him.

It comes after police launched an investigation into online death threats against the Labour leader in the wake of the PM’s jibe in the House of Commons.

Asked if he had received such threats following Mr Johnson’s comments, Sir Keir said: “Yes. I do not like talking about this because I have got young children.”

He told BBC Radio Newcastle: “It’s very important for me to say that what the Prime Minister said was wrong, it was very wrong. He knew exactly what he was doing.

“There has been a right-wing conspiracy theory for some time that’s a complete fabrication.

“He fed into that, and that has caused difficulty, but my preference, if I may, is not to talk about that because, as I say, I have got young children and I don’t particularly want them to hear too much of what may or may not be said about me.”

Documents, including a batch of messages from users of the Telegram app who appear to be identifiable, were sent to Scotland Yard by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) on Friday.

The Observer reported that they included calls for Sir Keir, who along with shadow foreign secretary David Lammy was confronted by a mob in Whitehall last week shouting “paedophile protector”, to be executed.

Keir Starmer visit to the Prince’s Trust
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Victoria Jones/PA)

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “On Friday February 11, police received a third party report relating to allegations of malicious communications made against a serving Member of Parliament.

“An investigation is ongoing.”

No arrests have yet been made.

A Labour source said: “Of course extremists of all stripes don’t like Keir – he spent years helping to put them and their ilk in prison and keep Britain’s streets safe from them.”

The material from the CCDH, shown to The Observer, includes responses to footage of last week’s incident posted by English Defence League founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – better known under his pseudonym Tommy Robinson – and conspiracy theory group Resistance GB.

Earlier this month, in a slur which caused widespread criticism and calls for him to apologise, Mr Johnson accused his rival of failing to prosecute Savile while he was director of public prosecutions.

Last Monday, Sir Keir and Mr Lammy, who were walking back from the Ministry of Defence after a briefing on the situation in Ukraine, had to be escorted away from demonstrators by police.

Keir Starmer protesters
Police and protesters clashed in Westminster (Conor Noon/PA)

Although Sir Keir was head of the Crown Prosecution Service in 2009 when a decision was taken not to prosecute Savile, he had no personal involvement in the deliberations.

In an interview with The Times, Sir Keir said he had never been called a “paedophile protector” before.

He added: “If others want to argue that this is unconnected with precisely what the Prime Minister said one week before then let them make that case. But they’ll never persuade me that there is no link.”

Mr Johnson tweeted last Monday evening that the “behaviour directed” at the Labour leader was “absolutely disgraceful”.

Critics have said the PM’s jibe is completely unfounded and have blamed the remark for anti-Covid restriction demonstrators targeting Sir Keir outside Parliament.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid, speaking on a visit to east London last week, said the images of the opposition leader being bundled into a police car to be escorted away from protesters were “completely disgraceful”.

But the Cabinet minister, who has previously distanced himself from the PM’s Savile comments, said “the people that are to blame are the protesters themselves” rather than Mr Johnson.

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