By Guy Adams and Glen Keogh
James Goddard has never even bothered to conceal the ugly strand of racism that underpins his warped political agenda. The 29-year-old handyman’s lucrative second career as a far-Right activist kicked off in October 2017, when he posted a sort of personal manifesto on a virulently xenophobic website called Proactive Patriots.
‘I’m just a normal working-class lad from Leicester that is sick to the back teeth of mass Muslim immigration,’ it began, claiming that ‘unless the UK government acts to counter the threat of Islam then the UK will become an Islamic state in the next 50-75 years’.
Goddard then endorsed a sinister range of neo-Nazi policy proposals, including ‘complete bans’ on ‘halal meat’, ‘Muslim immigration’, the building of mosques, and ‘all literature on Mohammed in public buildings’.
He also declared that the families of all terror suspects ought to be deported – presumably without trial – in order to prevent Britain becoming a caliphate.
Quite how these extreme and somewhat paranoid views make him a remotely suitable person for Ukip’s leader Gerard Batten to be pictured with is anyone’s guess.
But, as we now know, that’s exactly what happened last summer, when the duo posed together at a protest on behalf of Goddard’s political hero Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the far-Right rabble-rouser better known as Tommy Robinson, though Batten denies knowing Goddard.
By then, the previously unknown Goddard’s star was firmly on the rise, thanks to a series of cranky videos he’d begun posting on social media on a daily basis. Many depicted his highly provocative behaviour at a range of far-Right protests held in towns and cities across England, Wales and Scotland.
Some saw him attack Islam, calling it ‘a political ideology that advocates your death’ and claiming Muslims were ‘raping our children and killing innocent people’. He described the Prophet Muhammad as ‘a bloodthirsty, murdering, racist paedophile’.
Goddard squaring up to a police officer near the Houses of Parliament during a protest in support of Brexit on January 5
Other videos focused on opponents of Brexit, who he dubbed ‘treacherous scumbags’, ‘pricks’ and ‘leftarded trolls’. Left-leaning lobby groups such as Stand Up To Racism were branded as ‘anglophobic… atheist and leftist scumbags hellbent on enforcing communism on us’.
In June he filmed himself abusing pro-Palestinian marchers in central London and took part in pro-Brexit ‘freedom marches’. In July he attended demonstrations in support of Robinson, who had been jailed for contempt of court after breaking reporting restrictions surrounding the trial of an Asian grooming gang.
In August he spoke out against London’s ‘Islamist’ mayor Sadiq Khan, and a month later organised a protest in Trafalgar Square under the slogan ‘Ban the Burka’.
‘If I can ask you to all come dressed in a burka or niqab, I feel this will send a message to our political class,’ announced Goddard, adding: ‘I must say, trying to drink a pint [in one] isn’t practical or pretty.’
The audience for this brand of bile is relatively tiny – his YouTube films racked up a few thousand views each, on average, while his Twitter feed had a mere 3,200 followers. But the devotion of some of his supporters means that it can also be extremely lucrative. Goddard began encouraging fans of his work to donate to him via a Paypal account, claiming their generosity would ‘help me fight for the cause’ and continue ‘challenging the corrupt Establishment’.
A similar pitch allowed Robinson to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds from supporters on both sides of the Atlantic. He has built up an impressive collection of luxury cars, watches, and designer clothes in the process.
James Goddard (right) protesting in a yellow vest protesters and stopping traffic in central London
Goddard isn’t quite in that league yet, though he’s seemingly been making enough to scale back his day job as a self-employed handyman. Lately, in a clever piece of branding, he’s begun wearing a high-viz vest – an apparent homage to France’s anti-government ‘gilet jaune’ movement.
Brought up in Anstey, a leafy village on the outskirts of Leicester, he has a son with ex-girlfriend Abi Herbert. Though no one was answering the door at the three-storey cottage where he is registered as resident, a black Range Rover Sport was seen coming and going last night. A former friend from the village said Goddard was raised in a comfortable middle-class family and attended the local high school. His mother, Stephanie, was an NHS administrator.
‘Jamie certainly wasn’t political when he was younger, but he got in trouble at school. He hung around with the wrong crowd, and used to be nicknamed “bulb head” because he had such a big head.’
The friend said that after leaving school, Goddard had initially worked as a hairdresser, taking advantage of EU freedom of movement rules to take up a job in Spain. He returned to the UK in his mid-twenties.
At some point, seemingly after ending up in a fight with a local Asian taxi driver, he appears to have become radicalised, and in 2017 began attending demonstrations and made inquiries about joining the far-Right group Britain First.
Since then, his notoriety has largely passed by locals, but it hasn’t escaped the attention of the police. On Christmas Eve, two officers from the anti-terrorism Prevent programme visited Goddard at home, advising him to tone down his provocative rhetoric in case he strayed on to the wrong side of the law.
Goddard didn’t take the advice well, going straight on to Facebook (where he was maintaining no fewer than four accounts) to record a video complaining: ‘The last time I checked we lived in a constitutional monarchy, where freedom of speech, freedom of expression and protesting was supposed to be protected.’
The subsequent fortnight has seen his provocative behaviour escalate considerably, presumably helping generate more donations from supporters. At a demonstration outside Parliament on Monday, he filmed himself shouting at police officers and anti-Brexit protesters: ‘You want a war, we’ll give you a war. It’s fair game.’ He then addressed an Asian man, saying: ‘You ain’t even f**king British’ and called pro-EU demonstrators ‘treacherous scumbags’, adding: ‘I wish ill health on all of them, every single one of them.’
Following an altercation, he squared up to a police officer, saying: ‘Me and you, charity boxing. I will wipe the floor with you.’ After that came his now-notorious attack on anti-Brexit MP Anna Soubry.
The ensuing notoriety may prove lucrative. But whether the good times will continue is anyone’s guess: Facebook last night pulled down his various accounts, for ‘violating our policies on hate speech’.
Unless he finds another outlet for his brand of racist bile, Goddard’s meeting with the Ukip leader may end up being the high point of his career in extremist politics.