Blasphemy is now a sackable offence

An Asda worker has lost his job for sharing an ‘anti-Islamic’ Billy Connolly video.


Topics Free Speech UK

If you’re not a fan of religion – or political correctness – then it looks like a job at Asda isn’t for you. Examiner Live reports that Brian Leach, a 54-year-old disabled till worker, has been sacked from his job in a Dewsbury Asda because he shared a Billy Connolly video about religion on his personal Facebook page. This is a case so mad and authoritarian it really makes you double take.

He says he was grassed up by a colleague, from head office, who found the joke offensive. ‘I was then pulled into a meeting a couple of weeks later’, Leach told Examiner Live. ‘I was summarily dismissed without notice following a disciplinary meeting for breaching the company’s social-media policy.’ In the offending clip, says the Mirror, Connolly takes aim at Christianity, Islam and calls suicide bombers ‘f****** idiots’. Here’s a bit of the skit:

According to a dismissal letter shown to the press, Leach removed the post, admitted guilt and removed his colleagues from his Facebook circle. But this wasn’t enough. His bosses ruled he had committed gross misconduct by sharing something with the ‘potential to bring the company into disrepute’. This was not before his bosses extracted a quasi-Stalinist apology, quoted in the Mirror, nodding specifically to Connolly’s jokes about Islam:

‘I have spoken to affected colleagues apologising for my post, taking their feedback onboard. I have realised people’s faiths are very important to them, and the nature of the post regarding the sensitive nature of it relating to the holy place of Islam… If I had faith I can imagine being very upset myself… I will think very carefully before posting online or saying anything that could be interpreted as hurtful to others and my place of work.’

When sharing a blasphemous video – on your own private Facebook feed, no less – becomes a sackable offence in supermarket chains, you know something has gone very, very wrong.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Richard Cooper

28th June 2019 at 5:40 pm

The Billy Connolly video also insulted Chritianity, but Asda were only concerned about Islam. I am an atheist and will try to avoid Asda from now on because they will not tolerate my beliefs.

Ian Fantom

28th June 2019 at 5:06 pm

Never apologise on demand.

mister wallace

2nd July 2019 at 5:18 am


James Clow

27th June 2019 at 6:49 pm

Asda is a privately owned company with customers from a wide range of backgrounds that will shop there. If employees offend customers, customers may go elsewhere and the private company loses revenue. The same situation would apply if someone used comedy with strong language to attack Vegans, Vegetarians, Gender, Age etc..and it has happened no so long ago where someone got sacked from a supermarket for slagging off Veg\Vegans. Would you employ someone who is going to offend your customers and potentially lose you income? That is surely what this boils down to in this instance. Should companies be forced to employ people who slag off/ridicule potential or actual customers, using “comedy” or otherwise? In this case I think the religious content is a distraction from Employee Freedom of Speech vs Employer right to protect profit. Also, I love the “quasi-Stalinist apology” comment, that was a beautifully eloquent shift of association away from authoritarian capitalism onto the left whilst sitting next to a Spiked article criticising those misusing the term fascist.

John Marks

27th June 2019 at 6:35 pm

I trust this guy will sue Asda for EXEMPLARY damages.
If I were on the jury, I’d find Asda guilty of unfair/unreasonable dismissal and grant the damages.

Jane 70

26th June 2019 at 5:36 pm

Whatever happened to the great British sense of humour, and our free thinking bloody mindedness?

Political correctness and the craven appeasement of the Woke Police, is inducing a widespread moronic conformity to the diktats of a shouty grievance cabal.

What hope for us atheists and members of the awkward squad, who refuse to bow down to this ghastly mindless, censorious, self abasing self righteousness?

I watched the Connolly clip and laughed! Whatever became of genuinely funny conedians?

Amelia Cantor

26th June 2019 at 10:38 am

It is not blasphemy, it is Islamophobia, which “is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. This definition was drawn up by Wes Streeting, a Labour MP, member of the LGBTQIA+ community and not known as religious in any way. He, Ana Soubry and other parliamentarians have “a series of examples [of Islamophobia], modelled on the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”

Hate is a highly infectious and multiply ramifying phenomenon. Islamophobia is directly linked to antisemitism is directly linked to transphobia is directly linked to sexism, etc, etc, etc. If you want a good example of how all these forms of hate go together, see Nigel Farage, who is a sexist Islamophobe who promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories about George Soros.

Hana Jinks

26th June 2019 at 10:51 am

Hate is a …what?

Richard Saunders

26th June 2019 at 12:42 pm

Please define Muslimness or perceived Muslimness. This is way too open to interpretation!

Ed Turnbull

26th June 2019 at 12:47 pm

I’m aware that in writing this comment I’m appealing to your rational side for which I’ve seen little evidence in your posts thus far, but here goes.

You are aware, are you not, that ‘islamophobia’ is a neologism? It’s an entirely concocted mental illness – a phobia being an irrational fear of something – designed with the express purpose of silencing any negative criticism of islam or the actions its adherents. This kind of pathologising unwlecome opinions as mental illnesses is what the Soviet Union used to do to its dissidents. It’s an utterly dishonest (and evil) way of dealing with views with which you’re unwlling, or unable, to engage.

Whenever anyone posits the equation ‘islamophobia’ = racism I ask them to explain which part(s) of the human genome determines whether or not one is muslim. Race, after all, being an expression of genetitc factors. I invariably get either the chirping of crickets, or the piercing SJW screech of “REEEEE!!”, followed by a flouncing away worthy of a three year old throwing a tantrum. I never get a rational response.

So, to sum up, ‘islamophobia’ is a BS concocted mental illness. ‘Islamophobia’ cannot equal ‘racism’, unless we’ve passed through the looking glass and words mean exactly what Humpty wants them to mean. Which appears to be the default operating mode for SJWs.

Ok, the ball’s in your court: engage, rationally, with what I’ve written above and prove me wrong. Or are you just going to label me ‘nazi’ / ‘fascist’ / ‘racist’ (if you *really* want to demonise me can I be Great Cthulhu?), which, I think, will say far more about you than me.

John Marks

27th June 2019 at 6:49 pm

Well said.
But I doubt you’ll get an intelligent reply from Ms Cantor.

John Marks

28th June 2019 at 11:08 am

Roger Burnley, CEO f Asda, watched a western with his wife.
Some of the actors wore Injun headdresses.
This is misappropriation of Amerindian culture.
Burnley should be fired.

Dennis Ambler

29th June 2019 at 5:49 pm

“Nigel Farage, who is a sexist Islamophobe who promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories about George Soros”

There is no need for conspiracy theories about George Soros, his funding of “progressive” causes is legendary and his ethnicity is irrelevant. His interference in the colour revolutions in Eastern Europe is well documented, just search for Open Society and Colour revolutions.

His interference in the UK political scene by funding groups that want to stop Brexit is even reported in the Guardian,

He has business interests in Hungary and there is mutual dislike between him and Orban, so he sought EU help for his battles with Orban, private meeting with Juncker no less. He needs his contacts in the UK to keep his easy access to Europe. Lord Malloch-Brown, former UN under-secretary, used to work for Soros, all checkable, no conspiracy theory involved.

So, no, criticising George Soros is not promoting conspiracy theories, nor is it anti-Semitic. Farage is off the hook. Sexist islamophobe? A strange concept…

james innes

26th June 2019 at 9:24 am

what a bunch of muppets ASDA are it was comedy although I happen to agree with billy on this but he went for all religions ‘blasphemy’ is not a crime stifling freedom of speech is a crime we are week on child molesters , murderers , crooked politicians, terrorists what a screwed up world we live in when we let snowflakes dictate to us

First Nation First

26th June 2019 at 2:52 pm

Asda need not expect my business in the future

Nigel Westlake

26th June 2019 at 3:46 am

I hate islam, but have no hatred for its followers.
Calling out an idea, islam, for being wrong and silly is a human right. Anyone who stands in the way of that right should be sent to prison for a long time until he or she learns that my rights are more important than their fuckwittery.

Hana Jinks

26th June 2019 at 10:01 am

Fuckwittery is probably as close as anyone can get to describing it. Excellent choice.

Here’s how fuckwitted it is…l think that they can lock you up for those kinds of thoughts now.

Ed Turnbull

26th June 2019 at 12:52 pm

Actually Nigel, I *do* have hatred for some of its followers: those who act on islam’s precepts of murder, sexual slavery, dhimmitude for unbelievers, ad nauseum. Nothing wrong in hating that which, when measured against western standards of civilised behaviour, is in itself hateful.

Hana Jinks

25th June 2019 at 10:52 pm

Seeing as supermarkets don’t actually have any “repute”, it’s almost as horrifying to witness them attempt to use this as a pretext to parade their PC bonafides as it is absurd and pathetic.

James Knight

25th June 2019 at 7:08 pm

A chilling example of what happens when you institutionalise wokeness. It brings out bigotry in the jobsworths who have that little bit of power over somebody else.

Danny Rees

25th June 2019 at 8:40 pm

Punishing someone for posting a video making fun of religion is not woke.

Ed Turnbull

26th June 2019 at 12:55 pm

Danny, not in broad terms, no. But punishing people for criticism of a *certain* religion is a central plank of being ‘woke’. If anyone *really* believes there’d have been the same outcome had this chap posted a video mocking Christianity, please get in touch – I’ve a bridge you may be interested in buying…

Danny Rees

25th June 2019 at 5:40 pm

Muslims are too oversensitive about their religion and islam is too protected.


paul rawsterne

27th June 2019 at 4:41 pm

The Woke types are quick to take offence on other people’s behalf (oh and there maybe just a teeny tiny minuscule element of truth to the rumour of Muslim over sensitivity, just a tiny bit, move along nothing to see here).
You’re welcome.

Winston Stanley

25th June 2019 at 5:38 pm

There is some truth in what Billy said. Religion is largely “over” in northern Europe at least. * The problem that we have is the attempt to impose pseudo-religious social control and behaviour in a secular guise. Backdoor blasphemy laws are only one way that is done, there is the whole “you cannot say/ do that”. The three establishment parties are all committed to a culture of authoritarian censorship and control.

It remains to be seen whether the Brexit Party will take up the issue of free speech. Other policies might include the disestablishment of the state religion and the abolition of the HOL/ monarchy. Now would be the time to scrap the lingering institutions of an authoritarian and credulous past. It could only boost freedom and the confidence of the demos in the present. There is only one boss in a democracy and that is the demos itself, not the state, not companies, not political parties or anyone else.

* For the first time, more than half the population say they have no religion, and the generation gap on religious affiliation is widening, according to the British Social Attitudes survey.
Only 3% of adults under 24 describe themselves as Anglican – fewer than the 5% who identify as Catholic. Almost three out of four 18- to 24-year-olds say they have no religion, a rise of nine percentage points since 2015.
Among the next age group, 25-34, only 5% identify as Anglicans and 9% say they are Catholic. The presence in the UK of young European workers may be a factor in the relatively high proportion of young Catholics.
Among all adults in Britain, only 15% consider themselves to be Anglican, compared with almost one in three at the turn of the century, according to BSA data. Nine percent overall identify as Catholics, 17% as “other Christian” and 6% say they belong to non-Christian religions.
More generally, 53% of all adults describe themselves as having no religious affiliation, up from 48% in 2015. The latest figure is the highest since the BSA survey began tracking religious affiliation in 1983, when 31% said they had no religion.

Winston Stanley

25th June 2019 at 9:19 pm

It is time that the British State stopped trying to force its religion onto kids.

> Responding to the figures, Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘With just 2 percent of young adults now saying they belong to the Church of England, it is simply untenable that the Church continues to run a quarter of all our state schools, that Christian worship is enforced in all the other state schools, and that the Church continues to have other privileges of establishment, including 26 bishops sitting as of right in the House of Lords.

‘These figures must surely act as an urgent wake-up call for the need to have a renewed conversation about the place of religion or belief in British public life, so that a new settlement can be forged that is more equitable for all and is better able to serve future generations.’

Danny Rees

25th June 2019 at 5:33 pm

Was this just about Islam because Christianity was mocked by Connolly too.

Was it Muslim co workers who reported him?

It’s likely if Islam had never been mentioned this would have made headline news.

Ed Turnbull

26th June 2019 at 1:00 pm

Danny, I suspect this was just about the RoP. After all, I don’t see many Christians threatening to behead those who mock / criticse *their* belief system. And consider where this occurred: Dewsbury. It’s ethnic / religious makeup is somewhat diferent from, say, Chipping Norton. And IIRC Dewsbury was the hometown of at least one of the 7/7 jihadis.

Erik Rush

25th June 2019 at 5:29 pm

At this juncture, I’m surprised you’re even allowed to carry this story in a UK publication.

Danny Rees

25th June 2019 at 5:34 pm

Of course we are.

There is a huge appetite for stories about how those scary Muslamics and their religion is “taking over” this fair isle.

William Murphy

25th June 2019 at 4:59 pm

Fortunately Comrade Leach did not post this Billy Connolly skit on the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack. Billy’s comments on Osama Bin Ladin at 6:30 would really give the Asda Thought Police an attack of the vapours.

Danny Rees

25th June 2019 at 5:36 pm

If people get fired for making fun of terrorists then it looks like we as a country support terrorists.

Phil Ford

25th June 2019 at 4:40 pm

It’s simple. Comrade Leach was summoned to a ‘struggle session’. Time for some ‘self-criticism’ – what the revolutionary comrades in the Khmer Rouge used to whimsically refer to as ‘study with Angkar’. It’s the same thing, albeit without the summary execution, but you get the gist. It’s certainly economic termination. There’s quite a lot of it about. All those useless, doctrinaire HR commissars really do have to justify their existence… so busy, busy, busy!

Hana Jinks

25th June 2019 at 11:11 pm

I kind of get how they might do this on behalf of one of the Kim’s…but Asda? Why do they see the “self-criticism” as such an integral part of it?

Dale Webster

25th June 2019 at 4:28 pm

The last thing he should have done is apologise, thus admitting guilt where there is none. How about Spiked promote a crowdfund for him to appeal? The only way we can stop this from continuing is if employers like Asda start losing in court.

SQN LDR Alan Birt

25th June 2019 at 3:50 pm

My understanding is that the offence of Blasphemy was repealed from the Statute Law of the United Kingdom some years ago. How then can he have committed ‘blasphemy’ when it no longer legally exists ?

Ed Turnbull

26th June 2019 at 1:14 pm

Sqr Ldr Alan, the blasphemy laaws in E&W only ever applied to the established church – you could critique Catholicism, Judaism or whatever as much as you like with no fear of prosecution. However, changing demographics, and a reflexive cringing against any criticism of a group that could be interpreted as ‘racism’, has led to the rise of a new blasphemy law, albeit de facto rather than de jure. And this ‘law’ favours just one belief system (clue: it’s not Seventh Day Adventism).

John Marks

28th June 2019 at 11:01 am

ECJ overrules Magna Carta and Trial by Jury as long as we’re in the EU.

Our Common Law (1215) means we, as free people, make our own laws and agree to abide by them.

A jury (twelve of the community) judge the law as well as the facts in each case.

It is inconceivable that a British jury would have convicted Mr Leach.

By contrast, the Commissioners make EU law, which is handed down by appointed judges for the sheeple to obey.

Steve Roberts

25th June 2019 at 3:43 pm

This case raises yet again the issue of what is to be done. It is all well and good to continually point out these occurrences, and yes they are increasing and there is obviously the situation that the nonsense of the culture wars is not only been imposed in codes of conduct etc in many forms but it is now having direct effects on ordinary peoples lives and employment , not just for the Weinsteins of the world now.
We should now be accustomed and expect these authoritarian attacks on our lives, after all it has become mainstream, but we need to be asking what is “our” side doing against these attacks,what is the “left” and trade unions for any longer if not to fight for members rights and freedoms, this is a workplace where fellow employees and the T.U.’s have an opportunity to put this nonsense down and get this guy reinstated, or else.
Without knowing the exact responses i would guess that the T.U.’S are complicit in this and agree with the entire ethos and ideas from the company regarding diversity, respect etc so we have to ask and be clear that as with the LP the TU’s cannot any longer accept the mantle of been for the working class and our political independence. Disgraceful, we all have many questions to ask ourselves of our attitude to these “institutions” of labour once and for all.
It is becoming abundantly clear that there is a serious need for new organisations to represent ordinary folk, a new movement politically focused and unequivocally in our interests.
Of course the dour naysayers will cry “..yes we have heard it all before for many years, but where is it…” The answer of course is it is not in the ether, it needs making, people make it by their actions, there is no blueprint. The biggest obstacle is that some of these naysayers, while “understanding” or been “critically aware” cannot and will not break from the old to build the new, until that break happens the “new” faces these obstacles not only from the old but from those that know the situation but still pander in many forms and differing degrees to the old institutions and those within them. The treatment recently of Paul Embery been yet another example, let go of the old and build the new but not in the hokey cokey way of one foot in one foot out, get out and build anew.

Jerry Owen

25th June 2019 at 2:58 pm

If he had faith he ‘would have been very upset himself’.. but he doesn’t !
So he shouldn’t be upset about any post mocking religion.

Bronk’s Funeral

25th June 2019 at 2:46 pm

Huh. I’m a proper massive dyed-in-the-wool Satanist, should I be concerned? My very existence is blasphemy, innit.

Acknowledging Satan as the great destroyer of the universe and having Him confer upon me all his rights is a fraught business and no mistake!

Danny Rees

25th June 2019 at 5:35 pm

It’s usually Christians who are bothered about Satanists.

Some of them think Muslims are “Satanists”

Andrew Leonard

25th June 2019 at 2:39 pm

Is the UK returning to the Middle Ages, except with Islam replacing Christianity?

Blasphemy rules and laws, enforced conformity, authoritarianism, working class people disenfranchised politically and regarded as second class citizens, rape, murder, surveillance, witch hunts, Eco-theology, and windmills.

What forces exist that could conceivably reverse any of these trends?

gershwin gentile

25th June 2019 at 2:04 pm

Wow, should have posted Pryors bit on Muslims in Prison. He was black and therefore unable to do racism.

Danny Rees

25th June 2019 at 5:34 pm

Nobody said this was racist though.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register now.