CW: This article contains reference to anti-Semitic and Islamophobic content and language.
An Oxford research associate and former Exeter fellow – who was scheduled to speak at a far-right conference last week – wrote, ‘liked’, and retweeted anti-Semitic and Islamophobic content, Cherwell can reveal.
A University spokesperson stressed he was no longer part of University staff, leaving in 2017.
On Twitter, Leonard also argued that immigration “should be fought with every means possible,” writing that “tens of millions of Muslims support ISIS,” and claiming that immigrants are responsible for 82% of crime in Sweden.
Leonard also wrote: “With so few Jews, it is extraordinary that the [Swedish] print media is largely owned and edited by Jewish families.”
George Soros, who frequently features in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, was also targeted. According to Leonard, the “arch plutocrat” desires “the break-up of the national consciousness” via immigration.
After being contacted by Cherwell two days before the separate Traditional Britain Group (TBG) conference – which was held last Saturday week – Dr Stephen Pax Leonard distanced himself from the event, stating that he had cancelled his speech “some time ago” after realising that TBG was a far-right group.
TBG gained notoriety in 2013 when it called for those of “non-European stock” to be “requested to return to their natural homelands.”
When Cherwell contacted TBG founder Gregory Lauder-Frost, however, the far-right organiser said that Dr Leonard pulled out “precisely 48 hours beforehand.” On the TBG website, the group complained that the cancellation of his “long-standing” booking at such short notice had prevented them from finding an adequate replacement.
The ethnographer would have been speaking alongside representatives of the German AfD and Austrian FPÖ, who have been criticised in recent years for Islamophobia.
Two of Leonard’s books have been published by Arktos Publishing, which is led by UK CEO Gregory Lauder-Frost. According to its editor-in-chief Jason Jorjani, the publishing house is “the leading press of the alt right.” It is also linked to Identity Evropa, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center says “peddles the delusion of white genocide.”
In his most recent book, The Ideology of Failure – which was to be the topic of his talk – Leonard rails against Islam, ‘cultural Marxism,’ and migrants, who, he argues, “are committing rape and murder on a daily basis.”
His previous book, Travels in Cultural Nihilism, in which he argued that diversity was equivalent to “cultural abandonment and ethnic dilution,” was described as by white supremacists online as ‘eloquent’ and ‘impassioned’.
Leonard personally recommended the book via Twitter to Pamela Geller, the far-right anti-Islam campaigner and friend of Tommy Robinson.
A University spokesperson told Cherwell: “Dr Leonard was employed as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford on a project in linguistic anthropology until 2017 when his fellowship ended.
“On leaving the University, he was accorded the title of Research Associate, which is often extended to external researchers collaborating with Oxford academics on specific projects. Dr Leonard has no current collaborations with Oxford and this unpaid title is due to expire in April 2019.
“Dr Leonard is not a member of Oxford University staff, no longer writes or comments as an Oxford academic, and the University therefore has no comment on his current activities and publications.”
Dr Leonard is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Durham University, who described his views as “wholly inconsistent” with their own.
Dr Leonard has been contacted for further comment on his online activity.
An earlier version of this article stated that Dr Leonard was employed by Durham University. We’d like to clarify that he is actually a Senior Research Fellow, and is not employed by St. Chad’s or by the University. The Senior Research Fellow position is an entirely honorary position and expires at the end of this academic year.