“Your children will feel the pain we will obliterate them Muslim children are now our target And there disgusting women will be targeted mothers and sisters Is burn alive”. [sic]
This horrific tweet was sent by Leak at 10:22am on 30 October, approximately one hour before he threw petrol bombs at the migrant processing centre in Dover. HOPE not hate’s archive of Andrew Leaks now deleted Twitter account reveals a man who extensively consumed far-right material and was obsessed with a desire for violence against Muslims and migrants.
Leak was an ardent follower of many anti-migrant “citizen journalists”, members of the public who film channel crossings and harass migrants at their accommodation for their social media channels. He replied to Alan Leggett (AKA Active Patriot) at least 73 times and mentioned him a total of 100 times. Other citizen journalists he engaged with online were Jeremy Davis (AKA Little Boats) and Amanda Smith (AKA Yorkshire Rose), whom he replied to 29 and 18 times respectively.
The interactions were not entirely one sided, as Smith retweeted Leak twice. This includes a 23 June retweet of a post by Leak urging the then-PM Boris Johnson to “release the grooming report that you are hiding”.
The current hostile climate against migrants and the harsh focus on channel crossings and migrant accommodation by the government, the media and the far right is a theme that runs through Leak’s posts, alongside suggestions of harsh punishments for those that make it across. “Stop the boats now” and “We will stop these boats”, Leak writes. “[H]ire a football stadium let them go at each other with boxing gloves” and “10 years in prison” are some of his suggested solutions.
He also took aim at those that support them. On 24 May, he targeted the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, tweeting: “the lifeboat service must have their charity Status denied they are people smugglers they are people smugglers and nothing more”. [sic]
In a post on 14 July, Leak replies to a tweet containing a video of then party leader candidate Kemi Badenoch in which she condemning Critical Race Theory (CRT). Opposition to CRT is currently a frequent topic of discussion in the far right which frames it as racist against white people. Leak replies, “You have got my vote”.
Leak’s beliefs on migration drew on conspiracy theories. For example, in one post on 9 September he tweeted at the anti-migration group Migrant Watch UK to inform them that “All these boats are made in the same place by the UN pier 52”.
Grooming was another preoccupation for Leak. His second to last tweet, sent on the morning of the attack, read: “Where are the fathers the men of this country wake up our children are being raped everyday be a man”. [sic]
Anti-Muslim activist Stephen Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson), who has made on-street grooming by Muslim men a key focus of his campaigns, was frequently supported by Leak. On 14 July, Leak wrote: “Tommy Robinson is trending because he was right about the Grooming/Rape/Pedophile gangs in Telford.”
There are multiple cases in which Leak shows support for Lennon. The day before the attack, 29 October, he replied to a tweet that featured an image of Lennon. He wrote: “I know this man does not abuse women and children that [sic] all I need to know He has done what the men and women of this country should have done a long time ago”.
Leak also used Twitter to share far-right campaigns. In May this year, Leak retweeted posts relating to a campaign against housing asylum seekers on an RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse, a campaign promoted by Patriotic Alternative, the UK’s most active fascist group.
Among the accounts he retweeted the most were Pat McGinnis’ and John Lawrence’s anti-migrant group the National Housing Party U.K., which also retweeted Leak on the issue of migrant crossings.
HOPE not hate have long been warning that far-right rhetoric about asylum seekers and migrants will lead to violence and sadly this appears to be further proof of this. Andrew Leak may have acted alone but he had a long history of consuming far-right content and interacting with other extremists.
Importantly, his attack came at a time when demonisation and scapegoating of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees by the far right, government and elements within the media, is contributing to a toxic and dangerous climate. This rhetoric shapes hostile public opinion and encourages the far right at a time when violent extremism is at a high.
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