Duchess of Sussex faced ‘disgusting’ threats to life, senior Met officer says

‘Very real’ threats against Meghan led to prosecutions, says outgoing assistant commissioner Neil Basu

The Duchess of Sussex was subject to multiple “disgusting” threats against her life, a senior police officer has revealed, adding they were “very real” and led to prosecutions.

Neil Basu, the outgoing assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, told Channel 4 News the threats were deemed credible, adding that the material would have left her feeling “under threat all of the time”.

The remarks throw new light on Prince Harry’s attempt to get automatic police protection for his family when they are in the UK.

In his final interview before leaving Scotland Yard, Basu, the country’s most senior officer of colour, criticised home secretary Suella Braverman’s “dream” of sending migrants to Rwanda as “inexplicable” and suggested his outspoken views on racism may have cost him promotion to the top job in policing.

Neil Basu in 2019.
Neil Basu in 2019. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

But it was his comments on the threats to Meghan’s life that appear to reveal why Prince Harry told the high court earlier this year that he would not feel safe when visiting his family under existing security arrangements. The Duke of Sussex subsequently won the right to challenge a Home Office decision not to grant him automatic police protection when he is in the UK – despite offering to pay for it himself.

When asked if there had been many credible threats against Meghan’s life, Basu answered: “Absolutely, and if you’d seen the stuff that was written and you were receiving it … the kind of rhetoric that’s online, if you don’t know what I know, you would feel under threat all of the time.”

He added: “We had teams investigating it. People have been prosecuted for those threats.”

The Sussexes have been approached for comment.

Basu became an officer at the Met in 1992, rising through the ranks to be appointed as the assistant commissioner for specialist operations in 2018. He has attracted criticism among Conservative MPs for his outspoken views about race and policing, such as criticising elements of Prevent, the government anti-terrorism programme which has targeted Muslim extremism.

He was tipped as a future Met commissioner, but did not apply to succeed Cressida Dick earlier this year, with government sources saying they were opposed to his candidacy.

Basu later applied to be head of the National Crime Agency, but was turned down for the job by the Home Office without any explanation.

He told Channel 4 News: “I do know that No 10 has previously interfered in me being appointed to positions. And the reason for that, I have not been told.

“I would surmise – and people who know me surmise – that it is because I’ve been outspoken about issues that do not fit with the current political administration. They are wrong. Diversity and inclusion are two of the most important things for policing.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement: “A new director general was appointed to the National Crime Agency earlier this year by the then home secretary [Priti Patel], following a fair and open recruitment campaign.”

The Home Office said in a statement: “The home secretary expects forces to take a zero-tolerance approach to racism within their workplace.

“But she is also very clear about the need to manage our borders effectively and have an asylum system that works for those in genuine need, as are the British people.”

Asked whether he regretted being seen as “woke”, Basu responded: “Are you alert to issues of racial and social justice? Yes I am. And if that is the definition of woke, I’ll wear it as a bumper sticker every day of the week.”

He added: “I was born in 1968. [Enoch Powell’s] ‘rivers of blood’ speech happened on the constituency next to where my parents lived and made their life hell. A mixed-race couple walking through the streets in the 1960s.”

He added: “I speak about race because I know something about race because I’m a 54-year-old mixed race man.”

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Pippa Crerar and Kiran Stacey

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