Back on the 20th of December 2016, Nigel Farage called the anti-fascist charity, HOPE Not Hate, a “violent” and “undemocratic” organisation.
However, today, Farage issued this statement:
Having now considered the position further I am happy to acknowledge that Hope Not Hate does not tolerate or pursue violent or undemocratic behaviour.
Such a stunning U-turn comes after a near year-long legal battle between Farage and the charity, which, as costs mounted, was settled outside of court.
The former UKIP leader’s initial false claims came after discussing a Twitter exchange with Jo Cox’s widower, Brendon Cox.
Farage told 600,000 LBC listeners:
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 very undemocratic means.
This lie was then propagated all over social media and repeated by the Farage-faithful until, by nothing but sheer repetition, it became truth – like so many political statements in our upside-down political landscape.
But HOPE Not Hate didn’t let his false comments go.
After Farage ignored their initial legal letter, they got the bit between their teeth and took up legal action. Crowdfunded by over 16,000 people, for ten months HOPE Not Hate stood firm.
In addition to being forced into a complete retraction, Farage was also made to agree that:
he will not repeat the claim that HOPE not hate is a violent and undemocratic organisation or encourage anyone else to do the same in his name.
As the charity have said themselves, this result represents a huge victory in the current battlefield of misinformation, ignorance and pernicious falsehoods that permeate the political landscape.
Hope Not Hate declared on their website that:
This is a massive victory for HOPE not hate and the 16,432 people who donated to us to make this possible.
I cannot understate how big a victory this was for us. HOPE not hate is an avowedly peaceful organisation and Farage’s false claims were deeply damaging to the vital work we do bringing communities together across cultural and religious divides.
But just as importantly, this settlement sends a message out to others. Anyone else repeating these smears or pursuing a false news agenda against our organisation should be put on notice that we won’t hesitate to take further action to protect our reputation.
It is time right-wing politicians were held accountable for their actions and words.
Too often now, politicos say whatever they feel like, whatever comes into their heads, as long as it sounds plausible and it helps their case. More often than not, the organisation about whom they’re speaking won’t have the resources to fight back, but in this instance, HOPE Not Hate got the resources.
As with all things, the law has been shown to step in when it matters and the threat of the law’s sanctions has enforced truth.
This is certainly a minor battle, and it won’t be the end of… *shiver*… “fake news”, but it is certainly optimistic.
Perhaps more results like this, or the threat of actions such as this, will mean that we can rewind on Michael Gove’s prescient admonishment of ‘experts’ and go back to the land of reality.
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