TV Channel Denies Game Show Contestant With '88' Face Tattoo Has Neo-Nazi Ties

The Sky History channel in the U.K. has been forced to deny a contestant in one of its upcoming shows has links to the far-right after he was accused of having neo-Nazi tattoos on his face.

A promotional video for the show The Chop: Britain's Top Woodworker was tweeted by the channel's official Twitter account along with the caption: "Meet the Woodman, the Bloke-With-All-The-Tattoos or Darren as we like to call him."

The video features presenter Lee Mack speaking to contestant Darren Lumsden, a heavily tattooed carpenter.

As noted by social media users, one of Lumsden's tattoos is the number 88 on his face. The far-right use these figures as code to mean HH or "Heil Hitler" because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

The 88 code is described as "one of the most common white supremacist symbols" by the Anti-Defamation League and is used "throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis."

Lumsden has the numbers 23 and 16 on either side of his head, with 23/16 being another white supremacist code for WP, or white power. He also has the words "homegrown" tattooed above his lip.

The channel was criticized for failing to see the potential significance of the tattoos, as well as promoting the clip featuring Lumsden during Black History Month.

Responding to the claims, Sky History denied that Lumsden's tattoos had anything to do with far-right ideology and said they instead denote "significant events" in his life.

"Amongst the various numerical tattoos on his body, 1988 is the year of his father's death," the channel tweeted.

"The production team carried out extensive background checks on all the woodworkers taking part in the show, that confirmed Darren has no affiliations or links to racist groups, views or comments.

"Sky History is intolerant of racism and all forms of hatred and any use of symbols or numbers is entirely incidental and not meant to cause harm or offense."

Several social media users were still skeptical that it is a coincidence.

"Could you ask him to explain the 23-16 tattoos that he also appears to have on his face, under the stars either side of his forehead?," tweeted the historian Alex Von Tunzelmann. "Because I imagine you will understand why some people are concerned about these in the context of the 88."

She added: "NB: I have not alleged that the gentleman in question is a Nazi, just observed that '88' is a common neo-Nazi tattoo. Sky History have now said that the tattoo is the year of his father's death: a pity that the tattooist didn't advise a different format."

Writer Beth McColl added: "This is obviously absurd & transparent but fairly incredible of Sky History to tell us that a man got more than one white supremacist tattoo entirely by accident and expect everyone to go 'yeah sure fair enough.'"

Sky History has been contacted for additional comment.

Lumsden has previously discussed his face tattoos with a local newspaper.

"I had other tattoos already, but about 10 years ago I saw someone with facial tattoos and started to work with my tattooist on my look," he told The Bristol Post.

"I have my daughter on the back of my head and my son on my cheek. When some people first meet me they are a bit shocked, admittedly, but they soon warm to me after a few minutes."

nazi
A member of the Hungarian neo-Nazi NS Front group with a tattoo of the Waffen SS unit slogan 'Loyalty is my honour' attends the 'Day of Pride' at Heroes square of Budapest on February 14, 2009. The Sky History channel in the U.K. has denied a contestant in one of its upcoming shows with an '88' face tattoo has links to the far-right. ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty