Person

Rachel Riley

Born:

January 11, 1986

Nationality:

British

Known For:

Television Personality

Rachel Riley is a British television personality, digital censorship activist, and outspoken opponent of anti-Semitism. In 2019, Riley criticized the Labour Party and its then-leader, Jeremy Corbyn MP, for its mishandling of and apparent callousness toward allegations of anti-Semitism by Labour politicians and activists. Riley later backed the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s campaigns for Twitter to remove controversial far-right commentator Katie Hopkins and former radical-left MP George Galloway.

Though Riley’s political party membership is unknown and she has stated she has no “party loyalties,”[1] Riley expressed opposition to the Labour Party on social media during Corbyn’s controversial party leadership.[2] The Center for Countering Digital Hate, which lists her as the group’s “patron,” has close ties to the Labour Party and Corbyn’s replacement as party leader, Keir Starmer.[3]

Early Life and Career

Rachel Riley was born in Rochford, Essex in the United Kingdom. Her father’s side of the family is of English ancestry. Her mother’s family is of Russian Jewish ancestry[4] and immigrated to Britain after fleeing pogroms in Tsarist Russia. Though ethnically Jewish, Riley was not raised as a practicing Jew and has said she is an atheist.[5]

Riley attended college at the University of Oxford where she majored in mathematics. After graduating, Riley briefly considered a career in finance[6] before accepting a position as tv host in 2009 for Channel 4’s “Countdown,” a math-based quiz show, despite having no television experience or training.[7]

Riley has remained the host of “Countdown” for over ten years while also working on other live television shows, including “The Gadget Show,” “It’s Not Rocket Science,” and “Sky Sports.”[8]

Political Activism

Labour Party anti-Semitism

In January 2019, Rachel Riley made a series of Tweets criticizing the Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitism. She attacked former MP George Galloway (a former Labour member) for an anti-Israel tweet which got him fired from his job at talkRADIO.[9] Riley also accused then-Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn for “giving voice to holocaust denial” by giving speaking platforms to Islamist extremist groups opposed to Israel.[10]

Riley’s dispute with Corbyn carried on throughout the year. In November, Riley shared a picture of herself wearing a shirt reading “Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavor,” a reference to the anti-Israel slogan “Israel is a racist endeavor.”[11] After the defeat of Corbyn and the Labour Party in the December 2019 general election, Riley tweeted that British Jews felt “relief” at not having to “live in fear” under a Corbyn regime.[12]

Riley has spoken openly about receiving online harassment due to her criticism. She was given extra security on “Countdown” after receiving death threats.[13] In one Tweet Riley said:[14]

In the name of Labour I’ve been called a hypocrite, lying propagandist, a tits-teeth-and-arse clothes horse dolly bird, weaponiser of anti-Semitism, fascist, right-wing extremist, Nazi sympathiser, Twitter cancer, thick Tory, brainwashed, an anti-Semite, white supremacist, hate preacher, Zio political trollster, not a real Jew, a child bully, conspiracy theorist, a paedo-protector minion puppet who my dead grandfather would be disgusted by.

In February, Riley and Tracy Ann Olberman, a fellow Jewish television presenter who criticized the Labour Party, prepared to sue up to 70 individuals for libel or harassment.[15] In April 2020, Riley won a libel case against Laura Murray, a former Corbyn staffer, who accused Riley of advocating violence against Corbyn on Twitter.[16]

Center for Countering Digital Hate

In January 2020, Riley joined the Center for Countering Digital Hate in calling for Twitter to ban the accounts of Katie Hopkins and George Galloway. Hopkins, a British television personality, has been accused of racism for her outspoken anti-immigration views,[17] and Galloway, a former radical-left Member of Parliament, has been accused of anti-Semitism for his opposition to Israel.[18] In mid-January, Riley and Center CEO Imran Ahmed met with Twitter executives in London to present evidence that Hopkins and Galloway had violated Twitter’s “hateful conduct” policy.[19][20]

On January 30, Hopkins’s Twitter account was suspended for a week and her past tweets were hidden. On June 19, Hopkins’s account was permanently suspended.[21] Though Galloway’s account was reviewed, his account was not suspended.[22]

References

  1. “Rachel Riley called ‘thick’ for criticizing Jeremy Corbin over anti-Semitism row.” Telegraph. September 12, 2018. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/12/rachel-riley-called-thick-criticising-jeremy-corbyn-anti-semitism/. ^
  2. Kelly, Emma. “’Thank you Britain’: Rachel Riley celebrates Tory general election win after Jeremy Corbin row.” Metro. December 13, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://metro.co.uk/2019/12/13/thank-britain-rachel-riley-celebrates-tory-general-election-win-jeremy-corbyn-row-11879695/. ^
  3. Lucas, Fred. “4 Things to Know About the British Group Targeting The Federalist.” The Daily Signal, June 23, 2020. https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/06/21/4-things-to-know-about-the-british-group-targeting-the-federalist/ ^
  4. “Rachel Riley Twitter: Countdown star gets questioned over “B***y Jews’ comment.” Express. September 5, 2018. June 27, 2020. https://www.express.co.uk/celebrity-news/1013347/Rachel-Riley-Twitter-Countdown-Jews-news-pictures-latest#:~:text=Clearing%20things%20up%2C%20Rachel%20said,Channel%204%20at%202.10pm.. ^
  5. Sylvester, Rachel; Thomson, Alice. “Rachel Riley of Countdown finds her Jewish roots to take on the Corbynistas.” The Times UK. January 26, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rachel-riley-of-countdown-finds-her-jewish-roots-to-take-on-the-corbynistas-7hdmshx7f. ^
  6. “Rachel Riley: ‘Strictly magnified the fault lines in my marriage’.” Telegraph. June 18, 2014. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10909618/Rachel-Riley-Strictly-magnified-the-fault-lines-in-my-marriage.html. ^
  7. Worsdale, Jim. “I really love Countdown… trust me, it is not being axed.” Echo. July 27, 2011. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20131203013400/http://www.echo-news.co.uk/archive/2011/07/27/9160420.I_really_love__Countdown____trust_me__it_is_not_being_axed/. ^
  8. “Rachel Riley.” IMDB. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3205512/. ^
  9. “George Galloway sacked by talkRADIO over allegedly anti-Semitic Tweet.” BBC. June 3, 2019. Accessed June 25, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-48498010. ^
  10. Jarvis, Jacob. “Rachel Riley accuses Jeremy Corbyn of ‘giving voice to holocaust denial’ in anti-Semitism discussion released after Twitter row with George Galloway.” Evening Standard. January 10, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/rachel-riley-accuses-jeremy-corbyn-of-giving-voice-to-holocaust-denial-in-antisemitism-discussion-a4034981.html. ^
  11. Hockaday, James. “Why is Rachel Riley’s Jeremy Corbyn tweet so offensive?” Metro. November 21, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://metro.co.uk/2019/11/21/rachel-rileys-jeremy-corbyn-tweet-offensive-11192896/. ^
  12. Kelly, Emma. “’Thank you Britain’: Rachel Riley celebrates Tory general election win after Jeremy Corbin row.” Metro. December 13, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://metro.co.uk/2019/12/13/thank-britain-rachel-riley-celebrates-tory-general-election-win-jeremy-corbyn-row-11879695/. ^
  13. Grielson, Jamie. “Rachel Riley to get extra security after receiving online threats.” Guardian. January 26, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/jan/26/rachel-riley-countdown-extra-security-online-abuse. ^
  14. Millis, Joe. “Rachel Riley: ‘Antisemitism is a national scandal’.” Jewish News. January 22, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020. ^
  15. Waterson, Jim. “Rachel Riley and Tracy Ann Olberman to take legal action after Twitter abuse.” Guardian. February 21, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/21/rachel-riley-and-tracy-ann-oberman-to-take-legal-action-after-twitter-abuse-antisemitism. ^
  16. “Rachel Riley wins first round libel case against Corbyn staffer Laura Murray.” JC. April 25, 2020. Accessed June 27, 2020. https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/rachel-riley-wins-first-round-of-libel-case-against-corbyn-staffer-laura-murray-1.499207. ^
  17. Hutzler, Alexandra. “Who is Katie Hopkins? Far-Right British Activist Known For Racist Rants Finds Support from Donald Trump.” ^
  18. “George Galloway sacked by talkRADIO over allegedly anti-Semitic Tweet.” BBC. June 3, 2019. Accessed June 25, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-48498010. ^
  19. Adejobi, Alicia. “Countdown’s Rachel Riley in secret talks over Katie Hopkins’ Twitter suspension.” Metro. January 30, 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020. https://metro.co.uk/2020/01/30/countdowns-rachel-riley-secret-talks-katie-hopkins-twitter-suspension-12155524/. ^
  20. Williams, Rhiannon. “Katie Hopkins’ account locked after an anti-hate group met with Twitter.” Inews. January 30, 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020. https://inews.co.uk/news/technology/katie-hopkins-twitter-account-suspended-george-galloway-countering-digital-hate-391889. ^
  21. “Katie Hopkins permanently suspended from Twitter.” BBC. June 19, 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53111295. ^
  22. Frot, Mathilde. “Katie Hopkins locked out of Twitter after Rachel Riley intervention.” Jewish News. January 30, 2020. Accessed June 25, 2020. https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/katie-hopkins-suspended-from-twitter-after-rachel-riley-intervention/. ^
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