BBC in antisemitism storm after handing job to convicted

The UK’s public broadcaster, the BBC, has come in for stinging criticism after handing a job to a convicted Nazi hate criminal who was convicted and fined in 2018 for a “grossly offensive” antisemitic hate crime after filming and uploading a video of himself repeatedly shouting the phrase, “gas the Jews“.

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Last year, the Alt-Right YouTube personality Mark Meechan – better known as Count Dankula – was convicted of the “grossly offensive” antisemitic hate crime and fined £800 after teaching his girlfriend’s pet pug dog to do a Nazi salute in response to him shouting the deeply antisemitic phrase, “gas the Jews“, and then uploading a video of the act.

Meechan’s video, entitled “M8 Yer Dug’s a Nazi“, has been viewed more than 3.8million times and is still live on YouTube.

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At the trial in April last year at Airdrie Sheriff Court, Meechan claimed that the video was supposed to be a joke.

However, Ephraim Borowski, Director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, argued that the Holocaust should not be joked about, telling the Court:

“It is grossly offensive, it stuns me that anyone should think it is a joke. My immediate reaction is that there is a clear distinction to be made between an off-hand remark and the amount of effort that is required to train a dog like that. I actually feel sorry for the dog. In many ways, the bit I found most offensive was the repetition of “Gas the Jews” rather than the dog itself.”

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Meechan was eventually found guilty of a Hate Crime for communicating a “grossly offensive” antisemitic video, and was fined £800.

However, despite his conviction, the BBC has now decided to hand Meechan a role in an upcoming BBC show alongside another highly questionable character, James English.

Under the headline “BBC Gives Job To Nazi Hate Criminal“, today’s Scottish Mail on Sunday reports that:

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“Meecham wll star with reality TV personality James English who admitted assaulting and spitting on a woman in 2015, and dominatrix Megara Furie.”

The Scottish paper also goes on to report that:

“The BBC Scotland programme, which will air next month, will see four people with strong opinions take on controversial topics in each episode.

The regular contributors will lead and present the show and debate among themselves in a living room-style set-up, according to one source.”

Earlier this week, English revealed on Twitter that the three will co-star in the new programme, tweeting a picture of them standing in front of the BBC’s headquarters at Glasgow’s Pacific Quay, and adding:

“Great laugh today working on a new show for the BBC alongside @MegaraFurie and @CountDankulaTV. The new show will air in April. No bad for a posso boy.

Also looking forward to having @CountDankulaTV on my show also.”

https://twitter.com/jamesenglish0/status/1098993043087286272

Whilst it is believed that the three will be paid for their roles, the BBC told the Scottish Mail on Sunday that it was unable to comment on payments made to individuals.

Unsurprisingly, the BBC’s decision to hand Meechan the role has come in for severe criticism, with Matthew Berlow, a Glasgow Friends of Israel member and lawyer, stating that it was “sickening and disgusting“, adding:

“Anti-Semitism is a very difficult subject but we Jews know what it looks and feels like. I know that antisemitism has become very popular but I don’t think that [Meechan’s politics] can be described as a “view”. The Holocaust is no laughing matter.

We are entering a time now where the generation of Holocaust survivors are dying out. The internet is now becoming a breeding ground for idiots like this. It’s a very great shame. There’s a difference in making fun of Hitler and making fun of gassing six million Jews.”

Also responding to the BBC’s decision to hand a convicted antisemite a platform, the anti-racist organsation, Hope Not Hate, tweeted:

“There’s an extraordinary story in the Scottish Mail today: UKIP activist Mark Meechan (AKA “Count Dankula”) has been given a job on a BBC programme. Here’s a thread on why this is an incredible decision for the BBC to have taken…”

Hope Not Hate then went on to list the Alt-Right YouTube personality’s numerous disgusting actions and beliefs, tweeting:

1. Meechan is an online “comedian” best known for a video in which he repeatedly uses phrases like “gas the jews” as a prompt to get a pug to perform a Hitler salute. He was convicted of causing “gross offence” under the Communications Act in April last year.

2. The trial made Meechan a symbol for the far right, which has capitalised on his trial. He has done interviews with ‘Tommy Robinson’, Lauren Southern, Gavin McInness, Milo Yiannopoulos, Rebel Media and Alex Jones.

3. Meechan also addressed the gloriously misnamed “Day for Freedom” event in May last year. Read our write up here:

4. Count Dankula is now a UKIP and functions as a recruiter for Gerard Batten’s explicitly far-right party, along with a cohort of extreme online figures 

5. Meechan is happy to do video streams with openly racist YouTubers, such as white nationalist Colin Robertson (Millennial Woes)

The BBC’s decision to give Meechan a platform on their digital channel is bizarre, and they should rethink it.”

The Corporation also came in for criticism from the Scottish Tories, with the Scottish Conservative culture spokesman, Rachael Hamilton, stating that the BBC urgently needed to reconsider their decision, stating:

“The promotion of this individual in any BBC programme would seem to be entirely against the BBC charter.”

“If BBC Scotland wants to retain the goodwill of its many audiences, it really should reconsider this decision. It would be astonishing if the BBC, in any capacity, was to give a platform to someone convicted of a hate crime.”

However, responding to the row, the BBC stated:

“We had a broad range of contributors in for the recording of a new late-night format in which a wide variety of issues are debated and opinions are challenged.”

“The production is currently in the edit where the content of the programme will be decided, subject to the BBC’s robust editorial review and compliance procedures.”

“We don’t discuss payments to individuals. When a fee is paid in relation to a production, it is in line with standard industry practice.”

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