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Sun 22 September 2019
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After three days of intimidation and threats against Byline Times writer Mike Stuchbery, the Government agrees that YouTube must take action against Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.


The Culture Minister has said he hopes YouTube will “reconsider their judgement” in continuing to allow Stephen Yaxley-Lennon to use the platform to intimidate journalists.

In a post on the platform yesterday, the far-right activist warned journalists “every one of you, expect a knock on the door”. The broadcast follows three days of threats and intimidation outside the house of writer Mike Stuchbery.

Addressing Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Wright in the House of Commons this morning, deputy leader of the Labour party Tom Watson MP, said: “Every major social media platform, other than YouTube, has taken down Stephen Yaxley-Lennon’s profile because of his hateful conduct.

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“Late on Monday night, Yaxley-Lennon turned up at a journalist’s home, banging on the doors and windows, demanding to be let in and, after being escorted away by the police, he returned at 5am and continued his intimidation. The incident was live-streamed. He later warned journalists in a YouTube video to expect a knock at the door. Does the Secretary of State think that it is right that YouTube, and the parent company Alphabet, continues to give this man a platform?”

Replying, Mr Wright said: “I hope that YouTube will consider this very carefully and consider what he has said, what I have said and reconsider their judgement.”


A Timeline of Intimidation

Speaking to the Byline Times this morning, Mike Stuchbery said: “The last few days have been challenging on a number of levels for both my wife and me. In addition to Robinson’s visit, we have been deluged by both defamatory abuse and threats of violence across social media.”

He said he had been followed in public, that others had turned up at his house to intimidate the couple and that attempts had been made to access their social media and other online accounts. But, the defiant writer said he refused to be silenced and that he would continue to write about the far-right.

Here is a timeline of events as they unfolded:

Sunday, 3 March: A legal letter is delivered to the home of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, as part of a campaign Mike Stuchbery has been involved with in crowdfunding and publicising the case of defamation against a teenage Muslim boy by Yaxley-Lennon. The letter is handed to police by YouTuber Dick Coughlan some distance from his home.

Monday, 4 March, 10.45pm: Mike Stuchbery is awoken by a sharp banging on the windows and doors of his house. He finds Yaxley-Lennon outside, demanding to speak with him. He tells viewers on livestream of Stuchbery’s address and makes several defamatory allegations. After 25 minutes, the police arrive and tell him to leave. Stuchbery’s wife has a panic attack and the couple eventually go to sleep at 4am.

Tuesday, 5 March, 5.10am: Knocking, banging and defamatory yelling begins again. It goes on for 10 minutes before Yaxley-Lennon announces he is going to the gym and leaves. In the next two hours, Stuchbery and his wife make a statement to Bedfordshire Police.

Tuesday. 5 March pm: Mike Stuchbery speaks to a BBC film crew. During filming, he spots a man who returns to his car, retrieves a camera and starts taking photographs, which were subsequently put online. When he returns home, he finds the following note wedged into his door:

Tuesday, 5 March, evening: A Facebook video emerges showing a woman approaching Mike Stuchbery’s house and claiming to have put the note there with the threat that people would return. Yaxley-Lennon makes another Facebook video, claiming a conspiracy and that Stuchbery has made threats against his children.

Wednesday, 8 March: Mike Stuchbery receives threats via Facebook and YouTube and more than 40 calls on his personal phone over the course of the day. One of the calls is from James Goddard, a right-wing ‘yellow vests’ activist who was arrested in January for public order offences after journalists, Remain campaigners and MPs were verbally abused outside of Parliament. The following letter then arrives, addressed to ‘Dirty Mike Stuchbery’:

That evening, Yaxley-Lennon is interviewed by InfoWars – the notorious US conspiracy site hosted by prominent Donald Trump supporter Alex Jones – claiming that Stuchbery is sending intimidating notes to himself.

Thursday, 7 March: Attempts to hack Mike Stuchbery’s social media accounts continue.


Condemnation and Support

Yesterday, Yaxley-Lennon posted another video on YouTube making wider threats against all journalists. In it, he said: “Journalists… every one of you, expect a knock on the door.”

Well-known right-wing commentators on the online social media platform Gab have claimed that Mike Stuchbery’s address has been shared on right-wing forums across Europe and that “a decision has been made to make an example of Mike”.

Yaxley-Lennon’s actions have also been supported by a senior member of UKIP’s national executive council, Elizabeth Jones. In a statement, she repeated the false claims that Yaxley-Lennon’s wife and children had been intimidated, defended the visits to Stuchbery’s house, and described the media as “scum”.

I refuse to be intimidated, I will continue to write about the Far Right, and I intend to address ‘Tommy’s’ comments through legal channels.

Mike Stuchbery

UKIP leader Gerard Batten has previously defended Yaxley-Lennon and said that the banning of him by Instagram and Facebook is simply “politically correct dogma”.

Raising Mr Stuchbery’s intimidation in the House of Commons this morning, MP Tom Watson asked the Government to guarantee that its white paper on online harms would propose measures “to prevent hate figures, extremists and their followers turning the online world into a cesspit of hate”.

He said: “Those who express their opinion online will know that doing so can unleash a torrent of abuse, designed to make you wonder whether you should speak out at all. This week, we’ve heard of female colleagues having panic buttons installed in their homes because of death and rape threats they’ve received. This culture of abuse, intimidation and threats undermines our democracy and the principles of free speech.”

Culture Minister Jeremy Wright responded by saying that people must be able “to debate and to discuss issues that are sometimes uncomfortable and certainly controversial” online and elsewhere.

“But, I repeat the point that, no freedom of speech can survive in this country if we do not protect… people’s ability to say what they think, free of intimidation, free of the threat of violence, and those who engage in intimidation or threats of violence, should not find succour online or anywhere else,” he added.


The Police and Mike Stuchbery Respond

In response to the visits to Mike Stuchbery’s house, Befordshire Police told Byline Times: “We are now establishing the circumstances around both incidents so we can determine whether any offences have been committed. Appropriate safeguarding measures have been put in place.”

Stuchbery said: “I refuse to be intimidated, I will continue to write about the far-right, and I intend to address ‘Tommy’s’ comments through legal channels.”

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