Amber Rudd’s suggestion that companies compile lists of foreign workers has been recorded as a “hate incident” by police - but the university professor who complained about it has been told he should be “thoroughly ashamed of himself”.
The Home Secretary had to fend off accusations of ‘racism’ and ‘xenophobia’, and was even compared to Adolf Hitler, after she used her Tory conference speech in October to suggest ‘name-and-shame’ lists of firms which hired too many people from overseas.
Rudd told the conference in Birmingham that the government would be “examining whether we should tighten the test companies have to take before recruiting from abroad” to ensure that foreign workers were “not taking jobs British people could do”.
In the days following her speech Rudd attempted to diffuse the controversy by saying the review was simply aimed at ensuring companies “are doing enough to train people locally when they could be able to do that”, however, the proposal was later scrapped.
The speech prompted University of Oxford physics professor, Joshua Silver, to report it to police and the matter has now been classified as a “hate incident”.
“I felt politicians have been using hate speech to turn Britons against foreigners, and I thought that it is probably not lawful,” Silver told The Times.
West Midlands Police were then required to investigate the matter and have since written to Silver telling him that the matter had been concluded and “has been recorded in line with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) manual as a non-crime hate incident”.
The definition of a non-crime hate incident, according to the NPCC manual is:
Where any person, including police personnel, reports a hate incident which would not be the primary responsibility of another agency, it must be recorded regardless of whether or not they are the victim, and irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element.
West Midlands Police declined to comment on the case.
Silver appeared on the BBC’s Daily Politics show on Thursday and was savaged by host Andrew Neil and fellow guest, former Tory leader Lord Michael Howard.
When asked why he made the complaint Silver said: “What I have been looking at, to what extent statements made by senior politicians make about foreigners can be interpreted as some sort of mechanism, if you like, to help foster the idea the country is against the EU.”
Neil, commenting on how “broad” his response was, then pressed Silver on what was “hateful” about Rudd’s speech, explaining that it was simply a proposal aimed at ensuring British companies were making efforts to address skills shortages in the UK, rather than simply hiring foreign workers.
Silver: “Well, I, those... well you’ve just picked a few words.
“It is discrimination against... it is picking on foreigners... she did say, she did say, she did say, she was going to keep lists of foreigners.”
He added: “It is discrimination against foreigners because you pick on them and say we want to give jobs to British people and not foreigners.”
It then transpired that Silver had not watched Rudd’s speech, but had read “transcripts of it” and had gauged “all the feedback”.
Lord Howard told Silver he should be “thoroughly ashamed of himself”, pointing out that former Labour leader Ed Miliband had proposed something similar, as had former prime minister Gordon Brown in more direct terms: “He wanted British jobs for British workers.”
Howard said of Silver’s complaint: “What he’s doing is taking what is a well intentioned piece of legislation into disrepute. The meaning behind the legislation is very important. It is meant to deal with hate crimes.”
He added that Howard had been “totally unable to justify himself in the face of your (Neil’s) questions”.
Following news of the police intervention, the Liberal Democrats issued a statement condemning Rudd, saying her speech was the “kind of incident that would once have been associated with a UKIP councillor, now it is happening to a Conservative Home Secretary”.
Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael said: “That (Rudd’s speech) is a sign of how much this Conservative Brexit government has abandoned the centre-ground and embraced the politics of Nigel Farage.
“I do have concerns over whether the police should be investigating a politician’s speech, but Amber Rudd should certainly investigate her own conscience over these grubby and divisive remarks.”
The policy of blanket recording of all hate incidents was set out in 2014 by the College of Policing and was backed by Rudd last year.
In the government’s action plan on hate crime, published last July, Rudd said that increased reporting of incidents would help police to deal with hate crime more effectively.
In a statement at the time she said: “Those who practise hatred send out a message that it’s okay to abuse and attack others because of their nationality, ethnicity or religious background. That it’s okay to disregard our shared values and promote the intolerance that causes enormous harm to communities and individuals.
“Well, I have a very clear message for them. We will not stand for it. Hatred has no place whatsoever in a 21st century Great Britain that works for everyone.”
A Home Office spokesman told the Times that Rudd’s speech “was not a hate crime”.