London CNN —
Controversial internet personality Andrew Tate has given his first interview with a major broadcaster since being released from police custody in Romania into house arrest in April.
In a fiery sit-down with the BBC’s Lucy Williamson on Thursday, Tate was challenged on his ideology and the allegations leveled against him, which include organized crime, human trafficking and rape.
He insisted he is “absolutely and utterly sure” he is innocent.
“I know the case better than you, I know it intimately and you don’t, I have seen all the criminal files and the evidence against me and you haven’t, I know the truth of what happened and you don’t,” he told Williamson.
“And I’m telling you absolutely and utterly, I’ve never hurt anybody, that the case that’s been put against me is completely and utterly fabricated and I’m never gonna be found guilty of anything.”
When confronted about claims his views on women fueled misogyny in society, the former kickboxer claimed to be a “force for good in the world” and a “positive influence.”
“I preach hard work, discipline, I’m an athlete, I preach anti-drug, I preach religion, I preach no alcohol, I preach no knife crime, every single problem with modern society I’m against.
“I’m teaching young men to be disciplined, to be diligent, to listen, to train, to work hard, to be exactly like me.”
Tate also spoke disparagingly to his interviewer during the conversation, telling Williamson that she was “saying silly things” and suggesting she “do some research.”
Tate’s words will likely fall on deaf ears for many, with condemnation of the influencer rife from sectors of society ranging from human rights campaigners to school teachers and police figures.
The Chief Executive of Rape Crisis in England and Wales, Jayne Butler, earlier this year said she was “deeply concerned by the dangerous ideology of misogynistic rape culture that Mr. Tate spreads.”
Tate has been making headlines in recent months after he was arrested alongside his brother in Romania in December 2022.
In April, he and his brother Tristan were moved out of jail and placed under house arrest amid an ongoing criminal probe into allegations of organized crime, human trafficking and rape.
Tate denies the allegations against him, insisting “there’s no evidence in my file because I’ve done nothing wrong” and proclaiming “everybody knows I’m innocent” when he and his brother were taken for questioning by Romanian authorities in January.
The American-British former kickboxer has sparked debate this past year, with many adults including school teachers expressing their concern over his viral online commentary and the impact it could have on teenage boys.
Emory Andrew Tate III is a 36-year-old professional fighter-turned media personality from Chicago who has racked up billions of views online for his rants about male dominance, female submission and wealth. He first found fame in 2016 when he was removed from British reality TV show “Big Brother” after video emerged that appeared to show him attacking a woman with a belt.
In the years since, he has become a divisive online content creator with the self-proclaimed “misogynist” suspended from all major social media platforms.
Tate was banned Twitter in 2017 for saying that women should “bear responsibility” for being sexually assaulted. In August 2022, he was banned by Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube for violating their policies, Britain’s PA Media news agency reported. His removal followed a campaign by British advocacy group Hope not Hate, which fights against racism and extremism.
In November, however, his Twitter account was reinstated after Elon Musk took over the company, and Tate currently has a following on the platform of more than 6.7 million.
Before being taken down, his TikTok account racked up around 11.6 billion views – with many adults including school teachers voicing alarm about his misogynistic ideas taking root in the minds of young people across the world.
Tate and his brother were taken into custody, along with two others, in Romania on December 29 as part of an investigation into human trafficking and rape – allegations the pair have denied. Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) alleged that the four suspects formed an organized criminal group that stretched from Romania to Britain and the United States, for the purpose of committing the crime of human trafficking.
Shortly before his arrest, he sparked a Twitter spat with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who told Tate to get a life after he tweeted at her about his numerous cars “and their respective enormous emissions.”
In January, a Romanian court extended its detention of the brothers until February 27, Tate’s lawyers told CNN affiliate Antena 3. Separately, Romanian authorities announced they had seized nearly $4 million worth of assets belonging to Tate. Among the 29 seized assets were motor vehicles, luxury watches and sums of money in several different currencies, the country’s Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ANABI) said.
Tate has been accused of pedaling hateful views online and making his controversial lifestyle appealing to young and vulnerable audiences. Hope not Hate told CNN it has been monitoring Tate for years due to his close links to the far right.
Georgie Laming, campaigns and communication director at the advocacy group, said Tate’s confidence and the lifestyle he promotes are particularly harmful.
“Tate’s misogynist, homophobic and racist content is seen online by millions of young people. His confidence, his money and his lifestyle are all carefully crafted to make his brand of hateful content inspiring and aspirational,” Laming said.
It seems clear that his ideas have taken root in the minds of countless young men who see him as a role model of masculinity.
Social media spaces dedicated to teaching have featured accounts of students as young as middle schoolers parroting his diatribes and harassing female classmates, while incidents of sexual harassment in schools in the UK and Australia have been blamed on Tate’s influence.
Alicia Drummond, an adolescent psychologist, believes that Tate’s form of toxic masculinity can be particularly destructive for boys exploring their individuality.
“Adolescence begins at 10 and the developmental drive of this stage is for identity and independence. They are programmed to experiment and test different aspects of themselves as they seek their adult identity,” Drummond, a therapist and founder of the website “Teen Tips,” told CNN.
While explaining why children may be particularly vulnerable, Drummond said problems can arise when young people come under the influence of destructive influencers such as Tate.
“The more they access his toxic material, the more exposure they will get to similar viewpoints,” she explained, before adding that social media algorithms contribute to the situation because they make it less likely for young people to come across views which might give them a different perspective.
“When fed a daily diet of misogyny at an early age, patterns of thinking and behavior are established that are unlikely to serve them well in the long term,” Drummond added.
Critics say Tate’s commentary and content is harmful in and of itself. However, it does not exist in a vacuum.
As Laming explained, his ideas can be tied to far-right ideology and the worldview of the so-called “manosphere” – a loose collection of forums, blogs, vlogs and organizations concerned with men’s issues and certain interpretations of masculinity oriented around opposition to feminism.
Tate is known to have links with the far-right, including British far-right activist Tommy Robinson. He has been pictured with British far-right YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson and appeared on a podcast hosted by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for his fringe media organization InfoWars.
“Parts of the ‘manosphere’ are highly misogynistic and have, in recent years, grown increasingly extreme and close to the far right, utilizing racist conspiracy theories to explain perceived societal issues,” Laming said.
“Tate is able to bring followers in with his misogynistic content and then introduce them to his far-right friends and his dangerous conspiracy theories.”
It may be difficult for parents to know how to talk to their children about Tate and the dangers of online misogyny, but experts say such conversations are important.
“As parents we are highly influential on teen decision-making and, believe it or not, young people want to hear from us,” Drummond explained. “If we outsource education to the likes of Tate, they will internalize messages that are unlikely to lead to the happy, healthy relationships they deserve, and that we all want for them.”
Drummond offers advice to parents looking to raise such issues. “Let your child know that if they come across content they find upsetting or confusing they can always talk to you. Introduce the topic by saying you have read about Andrew Tate and ask if they have heard of him,” she suggested.
“If yes, ask what they think of his views and listen carefully. If no, tell them why you are concerned about his content. Discuss misogyny and how it can impact relationships and behavior. Help them see the subject from different angles, for example how girls might feel reading his views.”
Concerned parents can also talk to their child’s school to check if they are aware of Tate and address the topic to ensure messaging is aligned. According to Drummond, schools are being proactive in starting conversations that allow adolescent males to explore issues surrounding Tate and his ideology.
“Most of the schools we work with are doing an excellent job of initiating the discussions that will allow boys and young men to explore this topic. They are running workshops exploring masculinity, misogyny, consent, relationships and radicalization,” she said.
She adds that where more work can always be done is by “ensuring that there is a culture in school that does not tolerate the lower-level sexist and misogynistic behavior that can lead to established patterns.”
According to Laming, educators are under enormous pressure after the pandemic and are poorly equipped to tackle far-right extremism in the classroom. “The language and nature of the problem shifts quickly and without proper training and guidance teachers can’t keep up,” she says. Hope not Hate is working to fill that gap by offering workshops and resource to support teachers, pupils and parents to help them recognize and tackle the signs of hate, Laming added.
CNN’s Molly Stazicker and Allegra Goodwin contributed to this report.