UPDATES: Facebook Gaming has terminated its partner status contracts with both Jeff Leach and NitroLukeDX (May 13th) following the below incidents. We also updated this article with additional accusations (May 14th), plus comment from Luke, and Jeff Leach issued an apology (also on May 14th).
In in interview with Tipster on May 20th, Jeff Leach said: “[Activision and I] had severed ties a number of weeks prior to this situation. My work as Ghost had been completed for Modern Warfare Warzone and Call of Duty Mobile, I had completed the work I was booked to do and wasn’t on any kind of extended contract with Activision.”
This implies he was not dropped by Activision, as their working relationship had already ended. However Esports News UK understands Activision’s statement still stands, which implies the company will not be working with those whose remarks it condemns. He also said he’s not a sexist or a misogynist, and that 30% of his viewers and 50% of his mod team are female.
Original article (May 10th 2021):
Jeff Leach, British streamer, stand-up comedian and the voice of Ghost in recent Call of Duty games (pictured left), has announced he is taking legal action against fellow British content creator NitroLukeDX (pictured right).
NitroLukeDX, aka Luke Pickering, published a video on May 7th containing several foul-mouthed clips of Jeff Leach (which Jeff says were taken out-of-context) followed by a discussion panel between women gamers denouncing his behaviour.
The first clip is from Jeff’s 2017 appearance on a show known as Tauntfest, where he spoke in a derogatory manner about streamer ZombiUnicorn, aka Nati Casanova, who declined to attend because of him being on the show. This clip saw Jeff banned on Twitch at the time, and he said in a recent stream he’s learnt from this, has focused on improving himself. After the Twitch ban, he started streaming on Facebook.
The other clips are of Jeff on stream calling out (with strong and threatening language) what he claims was a troll sent by Luke, who apparently hounded him for months.
The video prompted Call of Duty publisher Activision to cut ties with the Ghost voice actor, telling Charlie Intel: “Sexism has no place in our industry, our games or in society. Activision is no longer working with Jeff Leach. We strongly condemn these remarks. We are committed to delivering a fun and safe experience for all players.”
Jeff Leach responded in this video, saying NitroLukeDX’s video is an attempt at character assassination, and that his clips have been taken out of context and made into an issue around gender. He also shared a death threat he received over email, and ZombiUnicorn has also received death threats.
“I can’t wait to have this beautiful and majestic legal response go out from my lawyers to him,” Jeff said. “The more he’s edited and manipulated the footage, what happens there is he’s presenting an out-of-context assassination of someone’s character. That’s what he’s done. It’s embarrasing for him and all his little trolls. So I’m excited to speak to my lawyers and my Facebook partnerships manager and see what can be done about this.
“For females coming into my chat saying I’m disrespecting female gamers, on a day where I’m playing with three of the biggest female content creators on the platform is absolutely a NitroLukeDX fan and is here purely to try and troll.”
Luke said in a statement sent to Esports News UK: “Keep in mind, people who routinely threaten lawsuits are often adult versions of playground bullies. Frivolous litigation denotes intention on infliction of emotional distress.”
ZombiUnicorn, who identified as a woman in 2017 but came out as transgender nonbinary almost a year ago, also addressed the situation. They declined to appear on the Tauntfest show with Jeff back in 2017 due to history between the pair. ZombiUnicorn said it’s because he was ‘vile and misogynistic’ towards her; Jeff says it’s because he refused ZombiUnicorn’s ‘sexual advances at Pax East in Boston two years prior and that ZombiUnicorn didn’t like that’, a claim that ZombiUnicorn said is fabricated and was disproven in 2017.
“ZombiUnicorn’s toxic audience spammed the chat show and shit-talked me,” Jeff said. “I had a heckle come-back and it was in incredibly poor taste and a rude and shitty thing of me to say.”
Jeff also cited an out-of-context example of ZombiUnicorn using the ‘f’ word and another Twitter user listed some examples of them using other nasty language without context. ZombiUnicorn says they have addressed this multiple times, admitted they made mistakes and have changed.
ZombiUnicorn commented: “I’ve been a little hesitant to address this situation because this kind of stuff really affects my mental health. I’m not a perfect person, in the past I’ve reacted poorly to witnessing or experiencing prejudice and hate.
“It’s frustrating to see companies posting about supporting women’s history month, or pride month, or black lives matter, then allowing creators and content like this on their platforms still. It’s not acceptable. People like Jeff Leach won’t change.
“Any time they’re held accountable for it, they try to deflect and come up with malicious lies to twist the story. Years ago, he was really horrible and I didn’t want to join that show with him and subject myself to being around him. He continued to make misogynistic comments about me and he was banned on Twitch and working with a lot of production companies.
“It’s not on us to have thicker skin, it’s on companies to take these reports seriously. We need to remove people like this. There’s no room for passes for white cisgendered men anymore for being prejudice, hateful and malicious. And there’s a difference between that and trash-talking in a game. Enough is enough – stop giving people like him a platform.”
ZombiUnicorn also called on Facebook and Twitter to review cases like this.
ZombiUnicorn has spoken out on serious issues in the past, and last year shared one of many accounts of harassment in the esports and video games industry.
In 2018, ZombiUnicorn was host of the widely criticised Bully Hunters campaign, which was shut down after tweets of ZombiUnicorn emerged showing use of vulgar language, slurs and insults. They have since addressed this and said they have changed.
Jeff has previously had a career in TV, hosting programs such as T in the Park Festival for BBC and also appeared in a show called Confessions of a Sex Addict, where he admitted he had slept with more than 300 women and enlisted the help of a psychotherapist to confront his addiction.
More claims (May 14th 2021):
There have been other accusations made towards Jeff over the past few years, many of which have been sent to Esports News UK this week. We have reviewed them all – some are unsubstantiated without proof, while others showed Jeff acting rudely or aggressively on streams.
One showed Jeff making an inappropriate comments about a belly dancer on a Twitch show, another claimed Jeff had doxxed some individuals who apparently threatened to swat him, but Jeff says he has never publicly doxxed anyone and instead reported the swatters to the police. Another clip showed Jeff speaking ill of streamer Katie Rhouu after she killed him in a game.
He also threatened Mike David of Red Bar Radio in response to the host antagonising him, saying: “‘He would never say anything to my face or come and meet me, cos he know he’d get his head caved in.”
Explaining this, Jeff told Esports News UK: “Red Bar Radio and the host have been harassing me online for years. I’ve never even met the guy.”
ZombiUnicorn also said he made misogynistic comments and misgendered them, and we have seen many harmful and sexist comments sent to her from various people on social media.
What happened between Jeff Leach and NitroLukeDX in the past?
It’s important to note there is history between the two content creators, including prior legal threats.
Jeff said Luke originally reached out to him to play and make some content together. At the time, things seemed to go well between the two. Jeff said he felt ‘there was a similarity between how I was ten years ago and how Luke is now’.
The pair also exchanged banter on Twitter:
Things would go downhill from there. Jeff said that Luke’s content shifted towards a more drama-focused and bait-like style, and at the same time, people would come into their chats on stream and try to play them off against one another.
“We got into a heated back and forth in December, it was childish, involved a lot of drama so I moved on from it,” Jeff said. “I told him, if he came after me, I would call him out on his charities. And that’s what I did.”
In December 2020, Jeff Leach posted a video on YouTube accusing NitroLukeDX of withholding money from charity.
Luke, who is also the founder of what he claims is the ‘first UK retail esports unit’ Overworld League, an esports gaming arena based in Camberley, run some initiatives raising money for what he said were charities called ‘E-able’ and ‘Gaming for Autism’. He said that all money donated via Facebook star donations on his stream would go to ‘charity’.
Jeff, in his video, claimed that ‘E-able’ and ‘Gaming for Autism’ are not registered charities, that an education entity Luke is partnered with (Asdan Education) “has received zero funds or donations from either Luke or his various businesses” and that Luke’s OverWorld Entertainment and OverWorld Ltd LLCs businesses ‘have not declared any of the Star donations on their annual tax returns in the last three years’.
Esports News UK has since learnt that Overworld, E-able and Gaming for Autism are not charities, but are billed as education initiatives and apparently Luke incorrectly used the wording ‘charity’ on a few occasions by mistake.
“The hundreds of thousands of donations made by viewers to NitroLukeDX that he claimed were ‘ALL going directly to E-Able charity’ are still unaccounted for,” Jeff said. “If Luke provides indisputable legal evidence that every single penny from the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of star donations he receives each year on Facebook Gaming are going directly to the charitable efforts he professes they are, then I will remove this video and offer a full apology to him.”
This prompted Luke to apparently hire a lawyer to send Jeff a legal letter threatening him to remove his video and post an apology, which they had allegedly scripted for him.
Jeff’s legal team hit back with a letter of their own to Luke’s lawyers, essentially stating they have no legal leg to stand on, and that Jeff also has ‘personal emails from his ex employees, parents of children with learning difficulties and special needs who have been publicly attacked by him on his channel’.
Jeff added: “So because he couldn’t have that YouTube video removed, he’s made this post accusing me of misogyny and sexism. I’ll now be talking to my lawyers about this targeted attack at destroying my public profile. It’s gonna be magical.
“Don’t be a fuckboy, and if you are a fuckboy, don’t be arrogant. You have to be intelligent. If you don’t do your due diligence, check on the legality of the things you’re going to do and the evidence already pitched against you, you may come a cropper of karma. And karma is coming.”
Jeff said Luke’s community has ‘plagued his community for months’, that he doesn’t condone his community going after anyone (“if they do that and are caught, they are banned”). He also made Facebook and Activision aware of his past incident with ZombiUnicorn and said they were accepting that he had grown and moved on since then. Luke also stated he has not sent anyone to Jeff’s streams.
Esports News UK has reached out to NitroLukeDX for comment on Jeff Leach’s plans to take legal action, and will update this article if we hear back.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.