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Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

TV historian David Starkey was today dumped by his publisher and fired or forced to resign from a string of top university jobs after he claimed ‘slavery was not genocide’ because ‘so many damn blacks live in Africa and Britain’.

HarperCollins has axed the best-selling author calling his words ‘abhorrent’ while Hodder & Stoughton, who published his book on Magna Carta in 2015, said it would never work with him again.

A spokesman for HarperCollins, who were advertising the release of one of his books in September, said: ‘The views expressed by David Starkey in his recent interview are abhorrent and we unreservedly condemn them. We will not be publishing further books with him. We are reviewing his existing backlist in light of his comments and views.’

The decision came hours after he was stripped of his visiting professor post at Canterbury Christ Church University and Fitzwilliam College accepted his resignation as he quit his University of Cambridge fellowship after he was accused of racism.

Dr Starkey has also resigned from the Mary Rose Trust and could soon be stripped of his honorary degree by Lancaster University as his reputation was tarnished by the scandal. 

The row started when the 75-year-old academic was interviewed by BeLeave founder Darren Grimes during which he argued the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is ‘wholly and entirely a product of white colonisation’.

Speaking via video link from his home, the historian said ‘the only reason that these young black protestors are here’ is ‘because of slavery’.  He added: ‘Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there? An awful lot of them survived’.    

Historian David Starkey has come under fire after claiming ‘slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa, or in Britain’ – and is losing jobs across the country

In an interview with Darren Grimes, the founder of the pro-Brexit campaign group BeLeave, Starkey said BLM is aiming to delegitimise Britain and 'the West in general'

In an interview with Darren Grimes, the founder of the pro-Brexit campaign group BeLeave, Starkey said BLM is aiming to delegitimise Britain and ‘the West in general’

From the London riots and BLM to the ‘poppy fascism’ of Remembrance Day: Abrasive historian Dr David Starkey’s long line of rows

David Starkey attracted widespread outrage in the wake of the 2011 riots, when he said: ‘The whites have become black; a particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion.’

He compounded the offence in many people’s eyes by adding that the outbreak of violence proved Enoch Powell’s notorious ‘rivers of blood’ speech was accurate ‘in one sense’.

The next year, Mr Starkey used a speech in the Palace of Westminster to compare Alex Salmond to Hitler, saying the then-First Minister thinks that ‘the English, like the Jews, are everywhere’.

In 2009, he courted controversy by criticising the public attention on Henry VIII’s wives, saying: ‘It’s what you expect from feminised history, the fact that so many of the writers who write about this are women and so much of their audience is a female audience.’

After the convictions in 2012 of the Rochdale sex-trafficking gang, most of whom were British Pakistanis, the historian suggested their values were ‘entrenched in the foothills of the Punjab or wherever it is’.

Earlier in 2011, Mr Starkey angered royalists when he said that the Queen had ‘done and said nothing that anybody will remember’ during her record-breaking 63-year reign, adding that she views her duties as ‘ordinary and humdrum’.

In the past, the writer has embraced his reputation for being rude and abrasive, admitting that he has a tendency towards ‘self-indulgence and explosion and repartee’.

And most recently in 2019 the TV historian claimed Remembrance Sunday has become a ‘crazy religious ritual’ that imposes ‘poppy fascism’ on everyone in Britain. 

In response to the remarks, Fitzwilliam College said the matter of Starkey’s Honorary Fellowship will be considered at a Governing Body meeting next Wednesday. But today they confirmed he had quit his non-teaching role at the Cambridge college, presumably before he was fired. 

In a Twitter post, Canterbury Christ Church University said: ‘We have terminated David Starkey’s position as visiting professor with immediate effect. His comments are completely unacceptable and totally go against our university and community values’.

The Mary Rose Trust, which manages the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, announced that it was cutting ties with Starkey.

 In a statement the trust said: ‘David Starkey has been a long serving member of the Mary Rose Board and has given his Tudor expertise generously to help with the creation and promotion of the Mary Rose Museum. We remain extremely grateful for this help.

‘However, we were appalled to hear his public comments on slavery today. Mary Rose Trust is a charity that exists for the benefit of everyone and we have zero tolerance for such comments. The board of the Mary Rose Trust has therefore accepted David Starkey’s resignation.’

Varsity claimed it is ‘almost certain’ his fellowship will be revoked.    

When asked what he would say to BLM activists who want to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ during the controversial interview on Tuesday, Dr Starkey replied: ‘You cannot decolonise the curriculum because you, Black Lives Matter, are wholly and entirely a product of white colonisation. 

‘You are not culturally black Africans. You would die in seconds if you were dumped back in black Africa because you wouldn’t know how to cope. 

‘You’re a product yourselves of cultural and racial mix.’  

His comments follow nearly a month of anti-racist demonstration and protest around the UK following the killing of George Floyd in the US.

Dr Starkey’s remarks were denounced by Sajid Javid, the former Home Secretary, who tweeted: ‘We are the most successful multi-racial democracy in the world and have much to be proud of. 

‘But David Starkey’s racist comments (‘so many damn blacks’) are a reminder of the appalling views that still exist.’

Other social media users followed suit, with one Twitter account asking if Starkey ‘feels similarly’ about the Armenian, Rwandan and Cambodian genocides.

Another posted: ‘Absolutely disgraceful comments from David Starkey.’   

‘This man hates as much as he breathes’, another social media user claimed.

David Starkey

Darren Grimes

Starkey (left) told Darren Grimes (right) that BLM are trying to impose a ‘false history’ of Britain on the country by making slavery ‘central to the picture’

Starkey's comments were denounced by Sajid Javid, who tweeted: 'We are the most successful multi-racial democracy in the world and have much to be proud of. But David Starkey's racist comments ("so many damn blacks") are a reminder of the appalling views that still exist'

Starkey’s comments were denounced by Sajid Javid, who tweeted: ‘We are the most successful multi-racial democracy in the world and have much to be proud of. But David Starkey’s racist comments (‘so many damn blacks’) are a reminder of the appalling views that still exist’

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Outraged social media users denounced Starkey for comments he made in the interview

Outraged social media users denounced Starkey for comments he made in the interview

One angry Twitter account posted: ‘Imagine if he said that about the Holocaust. Quite rightly he never would be allowed on TV again.’

One person wrote: ‘Replace ‘slavery’ for ‘the holocaust’ and ‘damn blacks’ for ‘damn jews’ and you’d quite rightly never be allowed in the public eye ever again.’

‘As David Starkey probably knows, only one genocide in history has come close to actually eradicating an entire population,’ another tweeted. 

‘The so-called Black War of the 1820s reduced the number of indigenous Tasmanians to fewer than 300. Guess which empire perpetrated it?’

One social media user commented: ‘David Starkey’s ignorant diatribe consolidate the impression that British historians are much more reactionary than they are.’ 

Another said: ‘Open-mouthed at David Starkey’s racism. Words fail me.’ 

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Outraged social media users denounced Starkey for comments he made in the interview

Outraged social media users denounced Starkey for comments he made in the interview

Starkey, a well-known TV and radio personality, called slavery the ‘terrible disease that dare not speak its name’ that was ‘settled nearly 200 years ago’.

‘The honest teaching of the British Empire is to say quite simply it is the first key stage of world globalisation,’ Starkey said.

‘It’s probably the most important moment in human history, and it is still with us.

‘So that’s how you go about tackling it. And as for the idea, as I said, that slavery is this kind of terrible disease that dare not speak its name – it dare not speak its name, Darren, because we settled it nearly 200 years ago. 

‘We don’t normally go on about the fact that Roman Catholics, once upon a time, didn’t have the vote and weren’t allowed to have their own churches because we had Catholic emancipation. And do you know what, we had Catholic emancipation at pretty much the exact same time that we got rid of slavery in the 1830s. 

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Dr David Starkey sacked as professor after slavery comments

Outraged social media users denounced Starkey for comments he made in the interview

Outraged social media users denounced Starkey for comments he made in the interview

‘We don’t go on about that because it’s part of history. It’s a question that’s settled.’

Starkey told Mr Grimes that BLM are trying to impose a ‘false history’ of Britain on the country by making slavery ‘central to the picture’.

Talking about US race relations, he said: ‘Slavery in the South was substituted for by a system of organised repression – economic, social and everything else – in the form of segregation. But that’s never been true in Britain.

‘In other words, we’re having a false history forced upon us.’

Starkey made his comments on ‘Reasoned’, which is hosted by Mr Grimes – the founder of pro-Brexit campaign group BeLeave.

Mr Grimes won his appeal last year against a £20,000 fine imposed by the Electoral Commission in 2018 after being accused of breaching spending rules during the EU referendum campaign four years ago. 

Starkey stirred controversy in 2011, when he told the BBC in an interview about the riots that ‘the whites have become the blacks’ and that ‘a particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion’.


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