Mumford & Sons‘ Winston Marshall has announced he is leaving the group, describing his departure as a “difficult decision first brought about by an unintentional Twitter storm”.
The banjoist faced backlash earlier this year after tweeting praise for a book by US journalist Andy Ngo, titled Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan To Destroy Democracy.
In a since-deleted tweet, Marshall said the book was “important” and hailed Ngo as a “brave man”.
Announcing his departure, Marshall said his time in the group had been “exhilarating”.
“From odysseys through the Scottish Islands to headlining Glastonbury, from The Betsy Trotwood to Madison Square Garden. We’ve done it all,” he said in a post published on Medium.
“What a blessing it was to be so close to such talent as those three lads. I will look back at it all with immense pride and love. However, after much reflection and consideration, I have decided it is time to move on.
“This is a difficult decision first brought about by an unintentional Twitter storm.”
Marshall’s full departure comes after the group previously confirmed he was “taking a break”.
Clarifying his controversial actions, he said: “The book documents the recent activities of the extreme Left in the US. The tweet was misconstrued by many as an endorsement of the equally abhorrent Far-Right. Nothing could be further from the truth. I condemn unequivocally all political extremism, be it of the Right or Left.”
He went on: “At the time of the incident emotions were high and despite the furore, the band invited me to continue with them. Considering the pressure, that took courage.
“I’ve spent much time since reflecting, reading and listening. I know now that, as long as I am a member of the band, speaking my mind on the evils of political extremism could bring them trouble. My loyalty and love for them cannot permit that.
“However to remain in the band and self-censor will gnaw my conscience, erode my integrity. By leaving I hope to speak freely without them suffering the consequences.”
Ngo’s credibility has been continuously questioned, with the Columbia Journalism Review describing him as a “discredited provocateur” in 2019.
Elsewhere, Buzzfeed News has described Ngo as “willing to make himself the story and to stream himself doing it. He proceeds from a worldview and seeks to confirm it, without asking to what degree his coverage becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy”.
Marshall said he was now looking forward to “new creative projects as well as speaking and writing on a variety of issues”.
He will continue to work on a project called Hong Kong Link Up, a non-profit organisation which “aims to link up British residents with Hong Kongers arriving in the UK”.
He concluded: “The band has been the ride of a lifetime. I leave with love in my heart and I wish them nothing but the best. To the band, colleagues, partners, crew, everyone who ever came to a show and everyone that supported the band, I thank you.”
Commenting on Marshall’s departure in an Instagram post, Mumford & Sons said they wished him “all the best”.
Back in 2018, Mumford & Sons also responded after they faced criticism over a photo that saw several members posing with controversial academic Jordan Peterson.