Michael Savage (San Francisco Chronicle)
WASHINGTON – Radio talker Michael Savage told WND he was "stunned" by the quick decision by incoming United Kingdom Home Secretary Alan Johnson to scrap his predecessor's list of people banned from Britain – a list that included Savage along with Islamic hate preachers and terrorists.
Savage had sued outgoing Home Secretary Jacqui Smith for libel for listing him, along with 15 others, as "least wanted" visitors in the country. Meanwhile, Smith's successor, Alan Johnson, called the move a terrible blunder and told the London Daily Mail he would scrap the policy of maintaining such enemies lists.
"I am stunned by this sudden sign of sanity in the U.K. government," Savage told WND. "But I won't believe it until they send a letter to me confirming it."
Savage said he also demands an apology from Smith.
Johnson said Smith had no right to put Savage, the third highest rated radio talker in America, on the same list as a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, a skinhead gang leader and a Hezbollah militant.
Last week, Jacqui Smith admitted she was not up to being home secretary, saying she should have been given some training for the job before being named.
"When I became home secretary I'd never run a major organization," she told Total Politics magazine. "I hope I did a good job but if I did it was more by luck than by any kind of development of skills. I think we should have been better trained. I think there should have been more induction."
Last month, Smith resigned her position in the wake of scandal over personal use of taxpayer funds and her controversial ban of Savage.
Savage took the offensive against her by appearing on a BBC radio program and filing his lawsuit.
Smith contended upon announcing the ban of Savage May 5 that the talk host was "someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country."
Savage also has sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking that she call on the British government to withdraw the ban.
The complaint against Smith notes the home secretary's office said in a press release that the "controversial daily radio host" is "considered to be engaging in unacceptable behavior by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence."
The allegations are "entirely false," the complaint asserts.
"At no time has our client provoked or sought to provoke others to commit crimes or serious criminal acts."
Savage hosts the nation's third most popular radio talk show in the U.S., with an estimated 8 million listeners a week on about 400 stations, according to his syndicator, the Talk Radio Network.
Savage told WND after the ban was announced last month that his message for Smith and the people of the U.K. was, "Shame on you. Shame that you've fallen to such a low level."
"It's interesting to me that here I am a talk show host, who does not advocate violence, who advocates patriotic traditional values – borders, language, culture – who is now on a list banned in England," Savage said. "What does that say about the government of England? It says more about them than it says about me."
The U.K. list also includes Hamas leader Yunis Al-Astal, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black, neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe and radical American pastor Fred Phelps, known for his virulent anti-gay protests at funerals. Phelps' daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper also is on the list.
On his website, Savage appealed to his listeners to contribute his legal fund, which he has used for various efforts, including a lawsuit last year against the Council on American-Islamic Relations for waging a boycott using excerpts of his copyrighted remarks. In the case of Savage's U.K. ban, however, CAIR has sided with Savage, arguing "freedom of speech is a two-way street."