Historian David Starkey has been stripped of his role as visiting professor at Canterbury Christ Church University after claiming ‘slavery was not genocide’ because ‘so many damn blacks live in Africa and Britain’.
Pressure was growing for him to have his fellowship at the University of Cambridge removed but instead it has accepted his resignation. The 75-year-old academic has also stood down from the Mary Rose Trust and could be stripped of his honorary degree by Lancaster University following his comments, made during an online interview with Brexit campaigner Darren Grimes for YouTube channel Reasoned UK.
Canterbury Christ Church University terminated Starkey’s role adding that his comments are ‘completely unacceptable. In a statement today Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam College said: The Master has accepted Dr David Starkey’s resignation of his honorary fellowship with immediate effect.
‘Fitzwilliam prides itself in leading the way in Cambridge in opening access to higher education for under-represented groups. Our student and academic bodies are diverse and welcoming to all. We do not tolerate racism.
‘Honorary fellows have the same responsibility as all members of our college to uphold our values.’
Vice-chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University Professor Rama has apologised to staff and students at the university in Kent who have been offended and upset by the ‘appalling’ comments.
He said: ‘Widely reported comments by historian David Starkey during a recent online interview are, in our view, completely unacceptable and do not reflect the values of our university and community. We have therefore terminated, with immediate effect, Dr Starkey’s visiting professorship.
‘I would like to say sorry to colleagues and students who will have been offended and upset by such comments of this appalling nature, and in particular in these challenging and difficult times for us all.’
During the interview, Starkey said: ‘Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there? An awful lot of them survived and again there’s no point in arguing against globalisation or Western civilisation. They are all products of it, we are all products of it.
‘The honest teaching of the British Empire is to say, quite simply, it is the first key stage of our globalisation. It is probably the most important moment in human history and it is still with us.’
The interview sparked a backlash, including from former chancellor Sajid Javid, who said Starkey’s ‘racist’ comments were a ‘reminder of the appalling views that still exist’.
British-Nigerian historian David Olusoga tweeted: ‘This is truly disgusting. And by the same ridiculous, twisted logic the Holocaust would not be counted as a genocide.’
Publisher Harper Collins tweeted: ‘The views expressed by David Starkey in his recent interview are abhorrent and we unreservedly condemn them. Our last book with the author was in 2010, and we will not be publishing further books with him. We are reviewing his existing backlist in light of his comments and views.’
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said: ‘To suggest a genocide did not take place because some of those who were persecuted survived is dangerous, damaging and completely reprehensible.
‘His words are abhorrent and as a historian with a considerable platform and following, David Starkey’s irresponsible and racist views should be widely condemned.’
Grimes was criticised for nodding along and letting his guest continue without challenging him on his remarks. He later released a statement saying he ‘wasn’t engaged enough’ in the conversation.
He added: ‘It goes without saying that Reasoned UK does not support or condone Dr David Starkey’s words.
‘I am very new to being the interviewer rather than the interviewee and I should have robustly questioned Dr Starkey about his comments.
‘However, whether it’s on the BBC, ITV, Sky News or on YouTube, no interviewer is responsible for the views expressed by their guests.’