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Ex-Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood backs feuding rap gangs

Tim Westwood has today been accused of making ‘blood money’ after a picture of the ex-Radio 1 DJ standing with two murdered drill rappers emerged and he is again drawn into a deadly gang feud.

The 60-year-old son of a bishop has become caught up in violent gang music, with several drill videos he promotes ending in bloodshed.

The DJ was pictured with Sidique Kamara, 23, also known as Incognito, and Rhyhiem Barton, 17, when their group Moscow17 appeared on his YouTube TV channel.

Mr Kamara was stabbed to death in Camberwell, south-east London, on Wednesday, just weeks after releasing a tribute song to Mr Barton, who died on the same street after a shooting in May.

Jen Lock, from the Lives Not Knives Ealing group, has repeatedly complained to Westwood, who insists he is just ‘supporting rap groups not gangs’.

Mrs Lock said: ‘He knows exactly what effect it’s having. He’s making blood mo­ney off the hits it’s generating on YouTube. He has blood on his hands’. 

Tim Westwood, pictured with members of the Moscow17 Drill rap group including Sidique Kamara, circled left, and Rhyhiem Barton, circled right, who have both been murdered 

The anti-knife crime campaigner complained to Westwood directly in April.  

She told The Sun: ‘I asked his team how he can justify getting gangs on to promote, glorify and encourage them.

‘They said it’s an ex­pression of art. It makes my blood boil that he tries to play innocent’.

At the time of both Camberwell murders, Mr Westwood was hundreds of miles away from the scene of the murder, in which he played no part.

But the latest death of a rapper he promoted has again thrown into question his role in feting drill videos that provoke violence.  

Drill music – a form of rap with violent lyrics – is associated with gangs, and many drill videos feature masked rappers threatening violence and bragging about drugs, knives and guns.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has linked its videos to an increase in knife and gun crime.

Once one of the country’s best- known DJs, Mr Westwood has been criticised for featuring rap videos ‘inciting violence’ on his YouTube channel.

In June, a judge at Kingston Crown Court in west London singled him out for criticism as five members of the 1011 gang were jailed for a total of more than ten years for plotting a machete attack on the rival 12 World gang.

Judge Ann Mulligan, who also banned the rap group from making their music, said: ‘The defendants made an appearance on the TimWestwoodTV channel, introduced as the 1011 gang.

‘It is fortunate that video is no longer publicly available. These are high-profile videos taunting and ridiculing the 12 World gang and referring to actual fights.

‘They reference murders, stabbings, drug deals, as well as appalling attitude to women. The videos incite violence.’

A month earlier, Mr Westwood was mentioned at the Old Bailey by Judge Nicholas Cooke QC, who said drill music was putting innocent people in ‘harm’s way’ as two gang members were convicted of murdering an innocent music producer following a feud played out in rap videos featured by the DJ.

Both men were murdered only yards from each other on Warham Street, Camberwell

Both men were murdered only yards from each other on Warham Street, Camberwell

Dean Pascal-Modeste, 21, was stabbed 14 times by Devone Pusey, 20, and Kai Stewart, 18, as he was on his way to a recording session on February 24 last year.

He was hunted down in south-east London by members of the B Side gang from Lewisham because he was friends with their rivals the Splash gang, who were locked in a ‘poisonous’ YouTube rap feud, exchanging barbs in their online videos on TimWestwoodTV. A Met Police database that tracks more than 600 suspected gangsters across 1,100 YouTube clips, names 32 videos on his channel that potentially incite violence.

The DJ, who hosted the BBC Radio 1 Rap Show for 20 years until 2013, earns money from advertising on the channel.

It has amassed 388million views by broadcasting clips including hundreds of rap videos from mainstream stars and suspected gang members.

Many that show suspected gang members in balaclavas making threats against rivals are still on YouTube.

This year, the family of a murdered teenager accused Mr Westwood of glamorising knife crime after he recorded a video with a gang celebrating the killing. Abdullahi Tarabi, 19, was stabbed after being chased through a west London estate in daylight on April 11 last year.

Two 17-year-olds defendants were cleared following an Old Bailey trial last October. Around the same time, Mr Westwood posted a music video he had recorded with a rap gang when they boasted that the victim ‘got splashed and I don’t feel sorry for his mum’.

The victim’s mother, Fawziya Ahmed, said: ‘This is hurtful. I can’t believe someone would say that.’

It is no longer on TimWestwoodTV, but the song, Pray For The Pagans, is still on YouTube.

The victim’s sister, Muna Tarabi, added: ‘How have these boys been allowed to go on with Tim Westwood, who is promoting them on his TV channel? It’s wrong. It is glamorising knife crime. They are actively celebrating it in this video and there is nothing we can do.’

Mr Westwood was hurt in a shooting in 1999 after a dispute with a south London gang that was trying to extort money from him.

A spokesman for the DJ, whose late father William was the Anglican Bishop of Peterborough, said he was unavailable to comment.

But Mr Westwood’s spokesman has previously said: ‘TimWestwoodTV gives up-and-coming artists a platform to be heard by a wider audience. The YouTube channel provides a non-profit outlet for young artists to express their talent and help provide them with an opportunity to get into the music industry.’

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