Michael Savage Sues Over UK Ban; Brits (Jacqui Smith) Say Bring It On
It’s the clash of the titans, pitting talk-radio god against fierce national gatekeeper.
- Bullshit. On the double. Jacqui Smith a ‘titan?’ Is this Jennifer Harper for real or an A-sole for the world? Â The only thing titanic about Smith is her stupidity.
Michael Savage made good on his threat to sue British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith for libel, with the official notification letter arriving at her office Monday.
Mr. Savage, heard by 10 million listeners a week, wants an apology, a retraction and cash from Ms. Smith – director of Britain’s lead government agency controlling immigration, passports, counterterrorism and police.
Her response Monday: Bring it on. She declared herself ready for a fight to defend her official “unacceptable behaviour policy” that can bar any foreigners from Britain should they foment terrorism, hatred or criminal activity in written, broadcast or online forms, or through public speaking.
On May 5, Ms. Smith placed Mr. Savage on a list of 16 undesirables “banned from the UK for stirring-up hatred and promoting their extreme views,” according to the office. The list included Islamic terrorists, neo-Nazis and Russian gang members.
In a description published at its Web site, the agency cited the radio host using both his real and on-air names, saying he was “considered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred, which might lead to inter-community violence.”
“Did I actually say this in England? No, my show is not broadcast over there. It’s Jacqui Smith who’s actually provoking hatred and inter-community violence by taking out-of-context statements and broadcasting them fresh, as if I intended to say it over and over again in England,” Mr. Savage told The Washington Times.
“This is an orchestrated campaign by this socialist, fascist government of hers, trying to turn me into something I am not,” he added. “I spent my entire life building my reputation, and I will not have this government drag my name through the mud. I want my name cleared.”
The letter – sent on Mr. Savage’s behalf by the London-based business law firm Olswang LLP – countered that the Home Office’s descriptions of the radio host are “false and defamatory.” The letter demanded a retraction, a personal apology from Ms. Smith and a written guarantee that she will not repeat the accusations.
Mr. Savage also wants 100,000 British pounds – about $162,000 – in damages, and the cost of his legal fees reimbursed.
“The Web site says that I ‘have’ provoked violence. It’s an absolute lie. My words have never provoked violence. I don’t suggest violence, and I never have. The libel lawsuit is going ahead,” Mr. Savage said, noting that he had not even planned to visit Britain and now had to employ security guards to protect himself.
The Home Office is not backing down from an already aggressive stance. Since 2005, it has already excluded more than 100 “individuals,” among them “animal rights extremists, right-to-life extremists, homophobe extremists, far-right extremists, as well as advocates of hatred and violence in support of their religious beliefs,” according to the office’s records.
“Any legal proceedings would be robustly defended; we stand by our decision to exclude this individual. Coming to the UK is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life,” the office said.
The events have made great theater in the British news media, prompting potshots at the U.S. and talk that Britain was becoming a “nanny state” in reader messages to the Daily Mail and the British Broadcasting Corp., among other news organizations.
Some say that a great deal could be at stake.
“Michael Savage’s situation has to do with free speech in the Western world, in the entire free world. We live in a global marketplace now, and when our greatest ally – Britain – looks to somehow silence an American radio personality, intentionally or otherwise, it could have tremendous impact,” said Michael Harrison, founder and editor of Talkers Magazine, which tracks the U.S. talk-radio industry.
“The British call Michael Savage a ‘shock jock.’ Now the Home Office accuses and condemns him of hate mongering. The First Amendment is not always tidy. It can be messy, even. When they equate a provocative political commentator with murderers and criminals – well, this is a dangerous mistake,” Mr. Harrison said.
“The alliances between our countries are built, in part, on the First Amendment. This may prove a very slippery slope we’re on,” he added.
Mr. Savage’s show is produced and distributed by Talk Radio Network, which recently announced a deal to produce and distribute a new radio show by The Washington Times.
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