Following the terrorist attack in London on Saturday, Andy Robson, the managing director of Testology, a QA contractor used by companies such as Warner Brothers, Team17, and Rebellion, posted a statement to Facebook saying “the only way to stop terrorist attacks is to get rid of every Muslim in this country and send them back to where they came from.”
When challenged on his statement by another member of the games industry, Robson stood by it:
Within hours of posting, Facebook took down Robson's statement as it contravened the company's hate speech rules.
The message was visible to Robson's Facebook friends, which include many figures within the games industry, including Peter Molyneux, Ian Livingstone, and employees of Microsoft, EA, Rare, Media Molecule, Creative Assembly, and Unity.
When contacted, Robson initially said “there was wasn’t anything [he] wanted to comment on” but went on to say it was “my personal opinion, it’s nothing to do with Testology.”
The Facebook post was brought to our attention by people within the industry, however, including former colleagues. The QA company, which employs close to a hundred staff and has many clients within the games industry, was founded by Robson and he is its director.
I asked if he planned to employ Muslims in future or continue employing Muslim staff. “Of course," Robson said. "In the industry and outside of the industry, I’ve got good friends [who are Muslim] so, you know, I’m not trying to generalise anyone.”
I pointed out that his call to "get rid of every Muslim in this country" did generalise, in response to which Robson said: "But, that's my personal opinion. I say it's nothing to do with anything else [...] not to do with the games industry or anything like that."
When asked if he had expressed these views to his company staff, Robson said “No comment.”
The game and tech industries have a long-standing problem with diversity, and Robson’s comments should be seen as a symptom rather than his being the root cause of all evil. One of the unfortunate aspects of social media, however, is the way in which communities set out to demonise and publicly shame individuals who have said or acted in some inappropriate manner.
Kotaku UK was sent Robson's comments on Monday morning, subsequent to which we verified their authenticity and then contacted him for comment. Our intention in publishing is to expose a certain strain of ignorance that persists within our industry, so current and prospective clients and employees of Testology are aware — not to encourage a witch-hunt against an individual.
Update: Since publication, Andy Robson has been in touch with a response to the article. Here it is presented in full:
“I want to apologise for the Facebook post that I put out on Saturday in the aftermath of the horrific London terrorist attack. I was trying to air my views on extremist Muslims and it seems my comments may have been misinterpreted by some people and caused offence. I am so sorry to anyone who was offended by my words – I was trying to voice an opinion on the minority group of Muslims who use their religion as an excuse for terrorism. It was a knee-jerk reaction and I sincerely apologise.
"For the record, Testology is one of the most diverse companies in the industry and I have championed equal opportunities and equality for all since I started out in 1994. Anyone who knows me personally will vouch that I don’t have a racist bone in my body. When we see innocent people slaughtered like we have in Manchester, London and other places around the world during the last few weeks, it is hard not to get angry and lash out. But I realise we all have different views, and I will certainly not be writing any of mine on my personal social media account in the future.”
Update 08/06: Since publication, Rami Ismail has written a response to Robson's second statement, which he has allowed for us to repost, and members of the games industry have condemned Robson's statements.
Update 09/06: Since yesterday's responses to our story, Andy Robson has sent us a second comment. Here it is presented in full:
"I appreciate all of your comments and views. Rest assured my apology was not 'textbook', it was heartfelt - maybe I should have expressed my regret differently. I made a massive mistake and I hold my hands up, but what I was trying to get across is that my Facebook post was written out of sheer ignorance rather than malice. I certainly agree that I need to take on board the comments of Rami and others, and become more educated about such a sensitive topic. All of my working career has been about giving opportunities to people from ALL backgrounds, regardless of gender, race or religion and I am mortified at being portrayed as racist. I will be do everything possible to learn from this. My head is not up my arse, it's hung in shame and I truly am sorry for the offence I have caused."