LONDON (Reuters) - An outspoken American radio presenter barred from entering Britain said on Wednesday he would sue the British government for defamation after his name was published on an official list of “promoters of hate.”
Michael Savage, a so-called “shock jock” radio host who has a right-wing talk show called The Savage Nation, described British Home Secretary (interior minister) Jacqui Smith as a “lunatic” and said he had set his lawyers to work on the case.
Smith published the list — which includes Islamist extremists, American anti-gay preachers and Russian gang members — on Tuesday, accusing those named of “stirring up hatred” and “fostering extremism or hatred.”
“For this lunatic Jacqui Smith ... to link me up with skinheads who are killing people in Russia, to put me in league with mass murderers who kill Jews on buses, is defamation,” Savage said on his show, excerpts of which were aired on BBC radio on Wednesday.
“As a result of this, I am going to sue her.”
Savage, who says he has between 8 and 10 million listeners across the United States, urged them to support him by cancelling any travel plans to Britain and by boycotting British-made goods.
“I don’t know what they make there any more, but whatever they make, I suggest you don’t buy it,” he said.
“If they want to play hardball, we’ll play hardball.”
Savage was fired by cable news channel MSNBC in 2003 after he referred to a caller on his show as a “sodomite” and said: “You should only get AIDS and die, you pig!.”
Smith defended her decision, saying Savage — whose real name is Michael Alan Weiner — was a man of extreme views who expressed them “in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence.”
“Coming to this country is a privilege,” she told Good Morning Television. “If you can’t live by the rules that we live by, the standards and the values that we live by, we should exclude you from this country.”
Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, former leaders of a violent Russian skinhead gang which beat and murdered immigrants, are also named on the list, along with the anti-gay U. S. Christian preacher Reverend Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper.
editing by Tim Castle