Winston Marshall of Mumford and Sons 'taking time away from the band' after book controversy

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Mumford and Sons banjoist and lead guitarist Winston Marshall will be "taking time away from the band" after facing social media backlash for showing support for a book by right-wing writer Andy Ngo.

Marshall, a 33-year-old U.K. native, said in a statement Tuesday he would step back from his performing duties "to examine my blindspots."

"Over the past few days I have come to better understand the pain caused by the book I endorsed," Marshall wrote. "I have offended not only a lot of people I don't know, but also those closes to me, including my bandmates and for that I am truly sorry."

USA TODAY has reached out to the band for further comment.

In a since-deleted tweet, Marshall endorsed Ngo's February book "Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy," congratulating the writer and calling him a "brave man."

Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons performs for SiriusXM listeners at The McKittrick Hotel on May 9, 2015 in New York City.
Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons performs for SiriusXM listeners at The McKittrick Hotel on May 9, 2015 in New York City.

Ngo wrote his book after he said he was "attacked by antifa" at a 2019 Portland demonstration that drew clashes among law enforcers, anti-fascist "antifa" protesters and right-wing groups.

Antifa – short for "anti-fascist" – is the name for loosely affiliated, left-leaning, anti-racist groups that monitor and track the activities of local neo-Nazis. The movement has no unified structure or national leadership but has emerged in the form of local bodies nationwide, particularly on the West Coast.

More: What is antifa and what does the movement want?

Marshall noted in his statement that he now realizes "how my endorsements have the potential to be viewed as approvals of hatred, divisive behavior. I apologize, as this was not at all my intention."

The musician, who is married to "Glee" alum Dianna Agron, is a founding member of Mumford and Sons along with Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane.

The band previously faced backlash in 2018 after a photo surfaced of some members posing with controversial Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, who has been criticized for taking transphobic, misogynistic and Islamaphobic stances.

"I don't think that having a photograph with someone means you agree with everything they say," Marshall told CBC in the aftermath. "Because then I wouldn't be able to have a photograph of anyone at risk of trying to offend anyone. I don't see the harm in engaging in conversation."

Contributing: Lorenzo Reyes and Doug Stanglin

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mumford & Sons' Winston Marshall on hiatus after Andy Ngo book uproar