Farage formally drops violence claims against Hope Not Hate
Nigel Farage has formally withdrawn his claim that Hope Not Hate pursues “violent and undemocratic means” after it launched a crowdfunded libel case against the former Ukip leader.
The anti-extremism pressure group said yesterday that Farage had filed a statement with the high court in London saying he was “happy to acknowledge that Hope Not Hate does not tolerate or pursue violent or undemocratic behaviour” and that he would not repeat the claim.
In a statement, Farage said he was “perfectly happy to accept that the organisation doesn’t pursue violent or undemocratic means”, but added that the case had been “a complete waste of their donors’ money”.
Farage made the accusation against Hope Not Hate, which mainly campaigns against far-right and populist groups. It had targeted Ukip for scrutiny and criticism in December 2016.
He sent a tweet blaming Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, for a lorry attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. “Terrible news from Berlin but no surprise,” he wrote. “Events like these will be the Merkel legacy.”
Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox, the Labour MP murdered by a far-right extremist, replied on Twitter, accusing Farage of “blaming politicians for the actions of extremists”.
The spat moved to LBC radio, where Farage, who has previously accused Hope Not Hate of disrupting his public events, said: “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 undemocratic means.”
That prompted Hope Not Hate to warn Farage he faced legal action unless he retracted the “political smear”.
The group crowdfunded a libel action and said it had received donations from more than 16,000 people.
The case had been due to be heard later this week, but after a meeting on Friday between lawyers from the two sides, Farage agreed to back down over the claim.
Hope Not Hate’s chief executive, Nick Lowles, said: “I am delighted with this victory and that we’ve held Nigel Farage to account. We are 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.”
In his statement, Farage said Hope Not Hate’s response had been “thoroughly disingenuous”.
He said: “It is the case that we’ve now resolved our dispute and I am perfectly happy to accept that the organisation doesn’t pursue violent or undemocratic means.
“But the fact is that a number of individuals claiming to support them have in the past behaved violently and sought to intimidate and disrupt lawful political meetings. This is a case Hope Not Hate should never have brought.”
Nigel Farage backed down just before a crowd-funded libel hearing. Hope Not Hate said it was delighted at holding him to account