A events organiser aiming to corner Scotland’s burgeoning comic, sci-fi and fantasy scene can today be exposed as a supporter of English far-right groups.
Manchester-based Andy Kleek is the sole director of Monopoly Events (NW) Ltd, which organises events including For the Love of Sci Fi and annual comic cons in Manchester and Liverpool. This November, the company is hosting a two day event, Comic Con Scotland, in Edinburgh’s EICC venue, with first release weekend tickets currently on sale for £32. Early guest announcements include the actor James Cosmo and a star of the original Ghostbusters.
In August, a three day unofficial Harry Potter themed event is set to take place in the ground of posh Loretto Academy in Musselburgh, featuring guest appearances from minor actors in the film series. Weekend tickets, priced £36, have already sold out. 3,000 people are attending a Facebook event, and the event has already received excitable coverage in the local press.
Few are likely to be aware that the man behind these events is a supporter of leading far-right figures Tommy Robinson and Paul Joseph Watson. In August 2017, the anti-racist campaign group Hope Not Hate exposed Kleek as having attended a rally organised by Robinson last June to stir up division in the wake of the Manchester attacks. The event saw hundreds of far-right thugs descend on Manchester city centre, clashing with police and forcing a Sikh group running their regular stall providing food to homeless people to flee in the face of racist abuse.
Kleek took to his Facebook page to write that the far-right rampage organised by Robinson was a “proper day out need to do that every Sunday”.
A few days later he was at it again, sharing a video by notorious alt-right Youtuber Paul Joseph Watson, commenting that Sadiq Khan – the centrist Labour Mayor of London who happens to be Muslim – is a “fucking prick” and a “racist cunt”.
With the posts less than one year old and no apology or statement forthcoming following the exposure of Kleek’s comments by Hope Not Hate, questions will be asked about whether it is appropriate for a man with open far-right leanings to be hosting a large family event, and of the Scottish venues hosting the two conventions, Loretto Academy and the City of Edinburgh Council-owned EICC. The posts have, however, been deleted.
Comic cons have emerged as a cash cow for events organisers over the last few years with huge public interest in sci-fi, fantasy and comic books, fuelled by recent on-screen hits. Unlicensed Harry Potter themed merchandise and events have also – as anyone who has visited Edinburgh’s Old Town over the last year can testify – become a magnet for those looking to cash in.
Kleek’s events organising interests are, however, diverse. In 2017, he organised a “For the Love of England” festival on St George’s Day, featuring “English food, English beer”, “multiple weapons displays” and a “Winston Churchil” (sic) impersonator.
A business associate of Kleek’s is believed to have organised a book launch by Tommy Robinson, the former EDL leader, in Manchester last year.
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AThousandFlowers
Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal