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Essex Court Chambers barrister calls for Wiley to be stripped of MBE following anti-Semitic rant

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Honour should be revoked ‘at earliest opportunity’, says Jeremy Brier, as grime artist is banned from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Jeremy Brier and Wiley (via Wikimedia Commons)

An Essex Court Chambers barrister has written an open letter calling for Wiley to be stripped of his MBE following a series of anti-Semitic posts that saw the grime artist banned from social media.

In an eight-tweet thread on Twitter this week, Jeremy Brier wrote to the Cabinet Office stating he has “strong reasons” to believe why the performer should be stripped of the honour for his “extraordinary and sustained publication of vicious anti-Semitic views”.

Last week, Wiley, whose real name is Richard Kylea Cowie, caused outrage when he posted anti-Semitic comments on Twitter. The tweets were probed by the police and condemned by the government before Twitter permanently suspended the musician from its platform.

Wiley continued his rant on both Facebook and Instagram from which he has now also been banned. He is understood to be active on his YouTube account but the video-sharing website is facing mounting pressure, most notably from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to delete his channel.

Brier, a commercial barrister and legal commentator, goes on to outline three reasons why Wiley’s MBE should be revoked “at the earliest opportunity”:

Brier concludes: “It is particularly essential that those followers see that these sort of views and remarks are unacceptable to the Honours Committee and at odds with receiving the highest Honours from the State.”

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Wiley, known as the ‘godfather of grime’, shot to fame in 2008 with the hit single Wearing my Rolex. Since then he has become an influential figure in British culture and was awarded an MBE for services to music in 2018.

He has since apologised for “generalising” in his comments that were “looked at as anti-Semitic” and insisted he is not racist, in an interview with Sky News on Wednesday. Wiley said he would be willing to give up his MBE, and that his former manager, John Woolf, has always retained possession of it. A spokesperson for Woolf said it is waiting for him to collect.

A petition has been set up calling on the government to strip Wiley of his MBE. It has so far received 29,298 signatures.

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7 Comments

Yes

This is absolutely right. It is about time the CPS started taking a firmer line on criminal conduct, which involves inciting racial hatred, where it is anti-semitism.

Simply put, anti-semitism is a bigger problem, and more dangerous than the police seem willing to admit. I suspect the problem is that anti-semitism is not seen that often by predominantly white, middle class people, and so the need to prosecute is less acute for the powers that be.

(28)(77)

Anonymous

And I wonder if this same barrister thinks David Starkey should be stripped of his CBE for the abundance of racist comments he’s made over the years? No problem with the suggestion, but if we remove Wiley’s MBE, then let’s remove the honours of all of the other individuals who have made racist/sexist or otherwise prejudiced comments over the years.

(52)(82)

Jacob

I agree with the above. Classic double standards. It’s sad that there are so many dislikes on the above comment. All minority groups in a society should be afforded the same level of protection and persecutors should be punished in the same manner.

(32)(53)

BarristerandRapper

How apt that all these cancel-culture type calls come when a coloured person makes anti-semitic or racist remarks. I fully accept Wiley’s comments were anti semitic and the right recourse has been taken. However, were there similar calls for David Starkey? And, in a related example – how far was Katie Hopkins’ racist and outright vile comments indulged by members of the British press and society as free speech?
That classic adage “oh I despise what you have to say but I will defend your right to say it to death” was very liberally applied – for years – towards her garbage until very recently, action was taken. The appreciable delay and inaction to me reeks of double standards.

Wiley does not want the MBE, and, he does not even possess it. I think, ironically, removing it from him would make him feel vindicated even more.

Many white people reading this will not fully appreciate, and this is said with no offence at all, but, due to colonialism, many ethnic minorities see no honour but only disgust at things such as Knighthoods.

Gandhi, Tagore and many others for example refused to take them on and they are universally admired.

When you are an ethnic minority there’s being “true to your own community” but also maintaining an outward visible identity for “whites”. That’s the reality. And anyone who “betrays” their own is seen as a “coconut” in other words white on the inside but coloured on the out.

I’m not saying this is right or wrong, but, inevitably, it is a product of migration and diaspora, and, two hundred years of empire. Ethnic minorities did not arrive to a welcoming Britain. Many people still bear those sentiments. Racism is itself a modern term.

By the way, I want to state for the record that the Jewish people have been great supporters of the Anti-Apartheid cause. And, historical allies of oppressed people. When I studied at Oxford, it was open knowledge to say that Jews have made more contribution to Modern Western and European Civilisation – especially in the field of thought and idea, and, economic revolution – than any other peoples. And, this was not seen as anti-semitic but rather a compliment and endorsement of the immense intellectual and cultural capital that the people possess.

(26)(41)

Bob

He’s already said he doesn’t care, and that it was never his anyway.

(11)(1)

Anon

Wiley’s rants showed him to be a nasty bully type of person, who is racist. Rather than take responsibility for his own poor career decisions he blames Jewish people because his manager happens to be Jewish. It’s pathetic.

(5)(34)

anon

Distills to exploitation rather than racism

(1)(0)

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