Wiley's management firm drops grime artist over antisemitic tweets

By Staff and agencies

The grime artist Wiley has been dropped by his management company and was temporarily banned from posting on Twitter after posting a tirade of antisemitic comments on the site.

The musician’s manager, John Woolf, said A-List Management had “cut all ties” with Wiley after a series of social media posts were made on accounts belonging to him on Friday and Saturday.

The musician posted a screenshot on Instagram on Saturday morning showing he had been banned from posting on Twitter for 30 minutes. A short time later he tweeted to his nearly 500,000 followers that he was “Back in action”.

Twitter has been widely criticised for allowing the posts – in which Wiley described Jewish people as “cowards and snakes” – to remain visible and for not removing Wiley’s account.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has asked police to investigate the content of the posts and called for Wiley’s accounts to be shut down “to prevent further outpouring of anti-Jewish venom”.

Woolf wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning: “Following Wiley’s antisemitic tweets today we at A-ListMGMT have cut all ties with him. There is no place in society for antisemitism.”

He had earlier said he did not support or condone Wiley’s posts but that he would speak to him privately and “help educate him”.

One post on an unverified Twitter account in Wiley’s name, which Woolf confirmed to the PA Media news agency belonged to the star, read: “I would challenge the whole world of Jewish community on my own I am not scared I can handle them.”

In a string of tweets on Friday, he said: “Listen to me Jewish community Israel is not your country I’m sorry … The Star of David that’s our ting … Some people have gotten too comfortable on lands that don’t belong to them.”

He also wrote “Israel is ours”, apparently referring to the black community, later referring to his comments as “Black History Lesson For Today”.

He went on to advance an antisemitic trope, that Jewish people control business interests, in a comparison with the Ku Klux Klan. “There are 2 sets of people who nobody has really wanted to challenge #Jewish & #KKK but being in business for 20 years you start to undestand [sic] why … Red Necks Are the KKK and Jewish people are the Law ... Work that out.”

He added: “If you work for a company owned by 2 Jewish men and you challenge the Jewish community in anyway of course you will get fired.”

Wiley, known as the “godfather of grime” and whose real name is Richard Cowie, received an MBE for services to music in 2018.

A tweet posted in November from the account of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, thanking the grime artist for his support in the general election, was deleted on Saturday morning.

The Labour MP Jess Phillips said: “Why on earth have Twitter left up such blatant antisemitism and hatred? It hits all the dangerous beats, Jews get things you don’t get, they are in control, they think they’re better ... This is dangerous stuff. Surely it should come down.”

The comedian David Baddiel said: “Twitter, in its failure to act, when they act pretty fast in suspensions normally, enhances and intensifies the idea that hate speech against Jews is a lesser, more insignificant form of the category, maybe not hate speech at all.”

The Labour MP Neil Coyle said Wiley’s management appeared able to act quicker than Twitter, “emphasising, once again, that legislation (including the online harms bill) should ensure social media platforms are not used to spread hate”.

In a statement issued on Friday, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Our crime unit has reported this matter to the Metropolitan police service as we consider that Wiley has committed the offence of incitement to racial hatred, which can carry a substantial prison sentence.

“We have additionally asked Twitter and Facebook, which owns Instagram, to close down his accounts which have hundreds of thousands of followers, to prevent further outpouring of anti-Jewish venom.”

They said they would contact the Cabinet Office to ask that Wiley’s MBE be revoked.

The spokesperson said: “Wiley has many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and we have seen today that many of them truly believe the unhinged hatred that he is spreading.

“We are treating this as a very serious matter which must be met with the firmest of responses.”