James Goddard was in a gang of agitators that surrounded Tory MP Anna Soubry on Monday, calling her a ‘Nazi’ and a ‘traitor’. The Daily Mail can reveal that he was photographed with Ukip leader Gerard Batten at a far-Right demo last year.
Since December, Goddard and his rag-tag bunch of followers have harassed and verbally abused MPs, campaigners and TV journalists at Westminster.
His appalling behaviour has prompted more than 140 MPs to demand that Scotland Yard chief Cressida Dick tackles the ‘deteriorating public order and security situation’ outside the House of Commons.
Gerard Batten Leader of UKIP (left) with James Goddard on a Tommy Robinson march June 2018
The Mail has established that Goddard is one of a growing number of extremists who have become close to Ukip.
He was pictured last June smiling alongside Mr Batten at a rally calling for the release from prison of Tommy Robinson, the founder of the English Defence League.
The photograph underlines concerns about Ukip’s lurch toward the far-Right since Mr Batten became leader last February. The MEP – whose salary of £67,000 is part-funded by the British taxpayer – denies knowing Goddard.
Mr Batten has called Islam a ‘death cult’ and aligned the party with a disparate selection of xenophobic rabble-rousers and those who pedal conspiracy theories.
His appointment of Robinson as Ukip’s special political adviser led to the resignations of former leaders Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Half of its representatives in the European Parliament followed suit.
Goddard (left) pictured with his political hero Tommy Robinson, the founder of the English Defence League
In his resignation letter, West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge branded the party a ‘vehicle of hate towards Muslims and the gay community’.
Mr Batten has pushed an aggressively hostile line against Islam with the help of Robinson’s far-Right mob and a string of extremist street organisations. He was last week forced to deny claims that Robinson is being lined up to replace him.
Goddard, 29, played a leading role at the rally last June and made a speech in which he said the UK was being governed by ‘hostile paedophiles’. It is unclear whether Mr Batten heard the speech, which was broadcast over loudspeakers.
Last night high-profile former Ukip members said this was the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and said the party’s meetings were now attended by ‘skinheads who used to go to British National Party meetings’. In other developments yesterday:
MP Anna Soubry was ambushed and called a Nazi by activist James Goddard
n House of Commons Speaker John Bercow described the abuse and harassment of MPs outside Parliament as ‘a type of fascism’ and called for a change of policing policy;
n The BBC and Sky News kept their leading journalists away from their usual broadcasting position outside Parliament yesterday after days of racist and misogynistic abuse;
n Staunch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg leapt to Miss Soubry’s defence;
n The officer in charge of policing Westminster admitted he did not know if calling someone a Nazi is an offence.
Mr Etheridge, who quit Ukip in October over its anti-Islam stance, told the Mail: ‘Unfortunately, Gerard has associated the party with this kind of thing.
‘It is the very tip of the iceberg and there will be more to come. I would urge everybody who believes in Brexit not to behave in this way. It is a great shame. They are allowing people to label [Brexit supporters] as thugs and it has got to stop.’
Jonathan Arnott, an MEP who quit Ukip in January last year, said Mr Batten hatched a plan to attract the far-Right to the party shortly after the Brexit vote.
‘When you have somebody like the repeat convict Tommy Robinson it should be a red flag,’ he said. ‘Any sensible Right-winger would see that somebody who has been convicted of immigration offences, of violence, of a drugs offence is a red flag. One serving Ukip MEP has described meetings now as being attended by skinheads, the type of people who used to go to BNP meetings. I’ve heard this from numerous sources. It is everywhere.’
Alan Sked, who founded Ukip in 1993 with Mr Batten’s help, said: ‘He has a different strategy of bringing in all the riff-raff from the far-right. If Tommy Robinson took it over he would be a more charismatic and dangerous leader.’
Brexiteers Follow Anna Soubry MP into Parliament.
One source said that party members have discussed mass ‘civil disobedience’, similar to the yellow-vest movement that rocked France if Brexit is disrupted.
The far-Right Westminster mob’s links to Ukip emerged as the Metropolitan Police announced plans to step up their operation around Parliament in the run-up to next week’s Brexit vote.
Deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said the force would be ‘enhancing the policing presence’ after Miss Soubry was branded a Nazi during TV interviews and then jostled as she walked to the Palace of Westminster. Mr Taylor said officers had been told ‘that if they witness criminal behaviour then there is an expectation that an arrest will be made’.
Scotland Yard is assessing whether any crime was committed by protesters who hurled abuse at Miss Soubry and campaigners Owen Jones and Femi Oluwole.
A Ukip spokesman said: ‘Mr Batten is photographed with thousands of people every year. This does not make him responsible for the actions of any of those individuals. He does not know who he [Goddard] is. There is no relationship there.’
Ugly racism of crank who wants to be new Tommy Robinson
By Guy Adams and Glen Keogh
James Goddard has never even bothered to conceal the ugly strand of racism that underpins his warped political agenda. The 29-year-old handyman’s lucrative second career as a far-Right activist kicked off in October 2017, when he posted a sort of personal manifesto on a virulently xenophobic website called Proactive Patriots.
‘I’m just a normal working-class lad from Leicester that is sick to the back teeth of mass Muslim immigration,’ it began, claiming that ‘unless the UK government acts to counter the threat of Islam then the UK will become an Islamic state in the next 50-75 years’.
Goddard then endorsed a sinister range of neo-Nazi policy proposals, including ‘complete bans’ on ‘halal meat’, ‘Muslim immigration’, the building of mosques, and ‘all literature on Mohammed in public buildings’.
He also declared that the families of all terror suspects ought to be deported – presumably without trial – in order to prevent Britain becoming a caliphate.
Quite how these extreme and somewhat paranoid views make him a remotely suitable person for Ukip’s leader Gerard Batten to be pictured with is anyone’s guess.
But, as we now know, that’s exactly what happened last summer, when the duo posed together at a protest on behalf of Goddard’s political hero Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the far-Right rabble-rouser better known as Tommy Robinson, though Batten denies knowing Goddard.
By then, the previously unknown Goddard’s star was firmly on the rise, thanks to a series of cranky videos he’d begun posting on social media on a daily basis. Many depicted his highly provocative behaviour at a range of far-Right protests held in towns and cities across England, Wales and Scotland.
Some saw him attack Islam, calling it ‘a political ideology that advocates your death’ and claiming Muslims were ‘raping our children and killing innocent people’. He described the Prophet Muhammad as ‘a bloodthirsty, murdering, racist paedophile’.
Goddard squaring up to a police officer near the Houses of Parliament during a protest in support of Brexit on January 5
Other videos focused on opponents of Brexit, who he dubbed ‘treacherous scumbags’, ‘pricks’ and ‘leftarded trolls’. Left-leaning lobby groups such as Stand Up To Racism were branded as ‘anglophobic… atheist and leftist scumbags hellbent on enforcing communism on us’.
In June he filmed himself abusing pro-Palestinian marchers in central London and took part in pro-Brexit ‘freedom marches’. In July he attended demonstrations in support of Robinson, who had been jailed for contempt of court after breaking reporting restrictions surrounding the trial of an Asian grooming gang.
In August he spoke out against London’s ‘Islamist’ mayor Sadiq Khan, and a month later organised a protest in Trafalgar Square under the slogan ‘Ban the Burka’.
‘If I can ask you to all come dressed in a burka or niqab, I feel this will send a message to our political class,’ announced Goddard, adding: ‘I must say, trying to drink a pint [in one] isn’t practical or pretty.’
The audience for this brand of bile is relatively tiny – his YouTube films racked up a few thousand views each, on average, while his Twitter feed had a mere 3,200 followers. But the devotion of some of his supporters means that it can also be extremely lucrative. Goddard began encouraging fans of his work to donate to him via a Paypal account, claiming their generosity would ‘help me fight for the cause’ and continue ‘challenging the corrupt Establishment’.
A similar pitch allowed Robinson to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds from supporters on both sides of the Atlantic. He has built up an impressive collection of luxury cars, watches, and designer clothes in the process.
James Goddard (right) protesting in a yellow vest protesters and stopping traffic in central London
Goddard isn’t quite in that league yet, though he’s seemingly been making enough to scale back his day job as a self-employed handyman. Lately, in a clever piece of branding, he’s begun wearing a high-viz vest – an apparent homage to France’s anti-government ‘gilet jaune’ movement.
Brought up in Anstey, a leafy village on the outskirts of Leicester, he has a son with ex-girlfriend Abi Herbert. Though no one was answering the door at the three-storey cottage where he is registered as resident, a black Range Rover Sport was seen coming and going last night. A former friend from the village said Goddard was raised in a comfortable middle-class family and attended the local high school. His mother, Stephanie, was an NHS administrator.
‘Jamie certainly wasn’t political when he was younger, but he got in trouble at school. He hung around with the wrong crowd, and used to be nicknamed “bulb head” because he had such a big head.’
The friend said that after leaving school, Goddard had initially worked as a hairdresser, taking advantage of EU freedom of movement rules to take up a job in Spain. He returned to the UK in his mid-twenties.
At some point, seemingly after ending up in a fight with a local Asian taxi driver, he appears to have become radicalised, and in 2017 began attending demonstrations and made inquiries about joining the far-Right group Britain First.
Since then, his notoriety has largely passed by locals, but it hasn’t escaped the attention of the police. On Christmas Eve, two officers from the anti-terrorism Prevent programme visited Goddard at home, advising him to tone down his provocative rhetoric in case he strayed on to the wrong side of the law.
Goddard didn’t take the advice well, going straight on to Facebook (where he was maintaining no fewer than four accounts) to record a video complaining: ‘The last time I checked we lived in a constitutional monarchy, where freedom of speech, freedom of expression and protesting was supposed to be protected.’
The subsequent fortnight has seen his provocative behaviour escalate considerably, presumably helping generate more donations from supporters. At a demonstration outside Parliament on Monday, he filmed himself shouting at police officers and anti-Brexit protesters: ‘You want a war, we’ll give you a war. It’s fair game.’ He then addressed an Asian man, saying: ‘You ain’t even f**king British’ and called pro-EU demonstrators ‘treacherous scumbags’, adding: ‘I wish ill health on all of them, every single one of them.’
Following an altercation, he squared up to a police officer, saying: ‘Me and you, charity boxing. I will wipe the floor with you.’ After that came his now-notorious attack on anti-Brexit MP Anna Soubry.
The ensuing notoriety may prove lucrative. But whether the good times will continue is anyone’s guess: Facebook last night pulled down his various accounts, for ‘violating our policies on hate speech’.
Unless he finds another outlet for his brand of racist bile, Goddard’s meeting with the Ukip leader may end up being the high point of his career in extremist politics.
Ukip’s ‘mad old granddad’ behind lurch to far-right
By Guy Adams and Glen Keogh
For years, he was thought of by his Ukip colleagues as a ‘mad old grandad’ single-minded in his dislike of two things – the EU and Islam.
Former ‘harmless’ MEP Gerard Batten, 64, has now been accused of dramatically steering Ukip to the far-Right since taking over as leader.
His sudden ascent to the top job last year prompted a wave of resignations – including that of the party’s former leader, Nigel Farage – due to his flirtation with extremists.
Mr Batten’s recent decision to appoint former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson as an adviser led campaigners to warn that the far-Right has been given a stage in mainstream British politics.
Former senior Ukip figures yesterday accused Mr Batten of deliberately staging a ‘revolution’ to shift the party’s focus from Brexit to a stance criticising Islam and multiculturalism.
An ex-MEP, who recently quit the party, said: ‘Many of Gerard’s beliefs would have been very well settled in the BNP.’
UKIP leader Gerard Batten and his wife, Franceslina, 60, originally from the Philippines, pictured in 2011
Mr Batten has previously courted controversy by describing Islam as a ‘death cult’ and calling for British Muslims to sign a charter of understanding in which they denounce violence.
His dramatic effect on the Ukip since taking over as leader in February 2018 came after years spent languishing on its fringes when colleagues said he became ‘obsessed’ with Islam.
Mr Batten first developed an interest in politics as a child, watching current affairs programmes about the Cold War at home in London’s Isle of Dogs.
As the son of a shipping clerk, he has described his childhood as typically working class. He landed his first job as a bookbinder at the age of 18 before becoming a BT salesman. While working for the telecoms giant Mr Batten met his wife Frances Lina, now 60, who had moved to the UK as an immigrant from the Philippines.
The couple, who married in 1988 while she was studying business, have two sons and live in a £630,000 terraced house in East London.
Mr Batten’s role as a trade union official at BT helped fuel a growing political interest. He later fondly recalled ‘violent arguments between me and the lefties’. In 1991 he joined the Anti-Federalist League, formed to campaign against the Maastricht Treaty.
Alongside Mr Farage and party founder Alan Sked, Batten helped to transform the body into Ukip two years later. Mr Sked, now professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, said: ‘When I set up Ukip he was a perfectly decent, moderate family man.’
But the academic, who left the party in 1997, said he was shocked years later to receive campaign literature from him. ‘It was Gerard Batten saying we should stop immigration and foreigners taking our jobs,’ said Mr Sked. ‘I felt like saying, “Your wife has been working [here] since she came to Britain”.’ Mr Sked raised alarm bells about Ukip’s current focus on Islam, adding: ‘He will take the party into a cul-de-sac and kill it.’
After Mr Batten became an MEP in 2004 party officials began to become alarmed about his views on Islam and he was almost deselected in 2014. Jonathan Arnott, a leading Ukip MEP who quit the party in January last year, said: ‘He sees everything as black and white – that either Muslims are good or they are bad. And he has decided they are bad.’
Mr Batten’s most controversial move has been his vocal support for Robinson. Mr Batten has claimed he could help transform Ukip into a ‘mass movement’.
Party officials have credited his decision to attract new supporters with boosting membership numbers from 18,000 last year to just under 27,000 now.