Best for Britain, an influential activist group, has apologised for tweeting a viral picture of a man with links to an antisemitic group attending an anti-racism rally and speaking to a young black woman. Best for Britain initially issued an offensive response to the criticism before reversing itself and apologising.
The picture featured Jim Curran with a sign reading “Racism is a virus, we are the vaccine”, but Mr Curran is a regular attendee at a group called Keep Talking, a group of far-right and far-left conspiracy theorists who come together to promote antisemitism.
When the girl in the photograph was made aware of Mr Curran’s identity, she reportedly responded: “He is an activist and a beautiful man. Spoke some real deep truths. His words brought me to tears. He said the genocide the news [sic] went through, was nothing on slavery and what black people endured and are still enduring.” She added: “I…judge him on our convo and from his vibe and his work. The jews [sic] are not innocent, #israelosnotinnocent they deal with mad racism!”
The picture received millions of views online.
At first, Best for Britain responded to the criticism saying: “Some people have identified that the old gentleman in the photo is a holocaust denier. We believe that this fact makes it even more important to share this image. It is worth applauding the fact that these two people from different generations have found common ground, and had a friendly conversation in the middle of a day of violent protests.”
ITV then featured Mr Curran and the woman on television.
Best For Britain finally released a statement apologising: “An apology from us — we got it wrong. Two days ago we published on social media a photograph of a woman and a man talking at a Black Lives Matter rally. When it was pointed out to us that the man had links to organisations accused of antisemitism, we should have removed the post immediately, apologised for our error and reasserted our view that all forms of racism are abhorrent. We did not. Instead, a member of our social media team published a poorly-worded, offensive and unjustifiable response about why they had posted the photograph. Once senior management were made aware of the situation yesterday, the image and associated comments were immediately removed and the staff involved are going through formal disciplinary processes. We are also undertaking a review of all editors of our social media channels. Best for Britain totally and wholly opposes racism in all its forms, including antisemitism, and we deeply regret creating the impression that we were legitimising racist views by publishing this photograph and the follow-up comment. We also apologise unreservedly to everyone we offended. We are taking steps to avoid this happening again, including mandatory training. Thank you to those of you who have contacted us about this issue and who campaign so fiercely and bravely against antisemitism. We are extremely sorry.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomed the apology, saying: “Thank you for taking responsibility, apologising and taking action both to discipline those staff who were behind this and to educate your entire team. We will be happy to offer our free training to your staff.”