Posted on July 2, 2004

No Charges Over Kilroy’s Remarks

BBCNews, July 1, 2004

Former BBC talkshow host Robert Kilroy-Silk will not face criminal charges over his attack on Arabs, the Crown Prosecution Service says.

Mr Kilroy-Silk called Arabs “suicide bombers” and “limb-amputators” in an article in the Sunday Express.

He resigned after the BBC suspended his show, Kilroy, when the remarks appeared on 4 January.

Muslim groups have angrily described the decision as “incomprehensible”.

Police investigated Mr Kilroy-Silk’s comments after a complaint by the Commission for Racial Equality.

However, the CPS said on Thursday that it had advised the Metropolitan Police the article did not constitute an offence under the Public Order Act.

A CPS spokesman said that for in order to succeed in any prosecution under Section 18 of the Public Order Act prosecutors would have to demonstrate that Mr Kilroy-Silk, now a UK Independence Party MEP, intended to stir up racial hatred or that his action was likely to stir up racial hatred.

The CPS said that although the article was insulting and abusive to Arab people, it could not be described as threatening under the act.


Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the decision was “incomprehensible”. He demanded the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken MacDonald QC, review the case.

We are constrained by law as to what we can and cannot prosecute

Sue Taylor, CPS

“The CPS has failed to protect Arabs and British Muslims,” he said.

“This was an opportunity for the CPS to show that racist remarks about Arabs are every bit as intolerable as racist remarks about Jews or any other racial grouping.

“The CPS has sadly failed this crucial litmus test and its decision will regrettably give comfort to bigots and xenophobes.”

Ahmed Versi, editor of The Muslim News, said he was disappointed.

“If the same comments made against Arabs were made against Jews, I’m quite sure he would have been prosecuted,” he said.

Mr Kilroy-Silk had argued that he had a right to say “there are Arab states that are evil, despotic and treat women abominably”.

Throughout the furore, he insisted he was not racist and that his talkshow had done a lot to promote equality.

Sue Taylor, head of division for the CPS casework directorate, said she acknowledged many people found the article shocking, abusive and deeply insulting.

“We took their concerns very seriously and spent some time considering in-depth whether the article committed a criminal offence,” she said.

“We are constrained by law as to what we can and cannot prosecute and in this case we have had to advise the police that a criminal offence has not been committed.”

But Mr Sacranie said the CPS’s reasoning for dropping the case failed to take into account that the January 2004 article had talked about “Arabs” rather than “Arab regimes”.

“This was generalisation of the worst kind and in our opinion tantamount to incitement to racial hatred,” he said.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said it would not be taking any further action, based on the advice from the CPS.


Comments from Readers

From: Drew

So, the truth was insulting and abusive to the Arabs? And many people found the article shocking and deeply insulting? That this was generalization of the worst kind and tantamount to incitement to racial hatred? Okay. In my desire to better understand different cultures I have acquired some generalizations.

– Arabs are limb amputators, suicide bombers and do honor killings (fathers killing daughters, brothers killing sisters, cousins killing cousins etc.)

– Africans are infant rapists, use human body parts for witchcraft, mutilate women’s genitals and put tires (filled with some type of fuel) around people’s necks and set them on fire.

– South of the border Latin American men often get away with murdering their women if they feel they have been disrespected.

– In India sometimes the mother of the son is known to pour kerosene or something on the daughter-in-law and set her on fire so that she dies.

– In Asia little girls are sold and end up as prostitutes. Sometimes you will hear the father talk about how he just couldn’t afford to feed the little girl. Often times a little girl is sold to feed daddy’s drug habit.

Now, as I think about the ways of different cultures, I do not feel racial hatred. I have been taught to appreciate and respect different cultures. While some practices may fill me with disgust and revulsion I try to remember that people are different. There are many who do not believe that the white way is the right way.

From: jeff jj

I would like to add to Drew’s list:

-In America white priest molest small children, company CEOs embezzle millions from old peoples pensions, and child pornography is widely available on the internet.

Characterizing a whole continent or a culture by the actions of a few depraved individuals is never helpful or accurate.

From: Cassiodorus

“Characterizing a whole continent or a culture by the actions of a few depraved individuals is never helpful or accurate.”

Drew’s list was not an enumeration of isolated actions committed by “depraved individuals” but a list of pervasive cultural traits of the areas under discussion. That Indian widows throwing themselves on their hubands’ funeral pyres is not an idiosyncratic action undertaken by a few nuts is attested by the widespread documentation of the practice, and by its suppression under British rule. If no valid statistical inferences can be drawn about cultures and if those awful “generalizations” can never be valid, the “work” you elsewhere urge AR posters to undertake would be impossible.

From: Drew

To: jeff jj

Cassiodorus’s comments made me think of another practice I have heard of that I think may tie in with the Indian widows throwing themselves on their husbands’s funeral pyres. The information flashed across my radar screen so fast that I’m not sure of the culture that is involved but I thought it was Asian which I understand is also used to decribe Indian.

It seems that in some cultures, when the husband dies, all of the property is considered to be his and so all property reverts back to the husband’s family. In a number of cases the husband’s family summarily throws the wife out into the street with nothing. Talk about property rights!