BBC presenter Andrew Neil has claimed he received 'death threats', insults and accusations of being a Muslim from English Defence League supporters after his interview with far-right leader Tommy Robinson.
Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley, appeared on the BBC's Sunday Politics where he was quizzed by Neil on his BNP past, his violence convictions, and Nazi salutes at EDL rallies.
The result was a bombardment of abuse directed at Neil on Twitter, with many accusing him of having given Robinson a rough ride, compared to his follow-up interview with Muslim Council of Britain general secretary Farooq Murad.
After EDL interview I've had death threats, been called a Muslim (whatever), an IRA sympathiser and of course a c***. All in a day's work.— Andrew Neil (@afneil) June 16, 2013
Neil called Robinson "a violent man making violent threats" and demanded he explain a speech from a rally in 2011 in London where he said: "Every single Muslim watching this... You had better understand that we have built a network from one end of this country to the other end, and we will not tolerate it, and the Islamic community will feel the full force of the English Defence League if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again."
When challenged on that speech, Robinson insisted that 'the full force' meant democratic process.
"It is not a threat, it is a promise. We will keep tackling these issues. We are a pressure movement to put pressure on the government and the Islamic community."
"You didn't say you'd raise it with your MP, you said they would feel the 'full force of the English Defence League," Neil said incredulously. "And you said 'the Islamic community'."
But Robinson replied: "I don't think the Islamic community has done enough to address these issues. You are twisting the words.
"We said they would feel it "through the democratic process. All I said is that they would feel the force."
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Many on Twitter argued that Neil takes a similarly tough line with all guests, from across the political spectrum. The BBC presenter also tweeted that he had done a similarly harsh interview with Anjem Choudary, an extreme Islamist activist who led banned organisation Islam 4 UK.
Neil claims that CNN decided not to air that interview, but insisted the interview had been equally heated.
People who think @afneil was biased in his interview, clearly don't watch him v much. Consistency regardless of guest is one of his talents— Giles Dilnot (@reporterboy) June 16, 2013
Neil retweeted many of the most vile threats he received, and some of the more ridiculous.
@afneil is obviously not concerned about the Islamisation of Britain, he knows he'll probably die of old age, within the next 3 years.— Jo (@CanaryinMine) June 16, 2013
@afneil you sure you're not Muslim you mug?!— TPR (@TPR1007) June 16, 2013
@afneil you're a mouthpiece for an organisation run by paedophiles. Your hatchet job on Alex Jones was shameful. Grow some balls.— G(od) No relation (@Flaganatas) June 16, 2013