In defence of section 127 (sort of)

We read Adam’s post about the word ‘insulting’ being removed from Public Order act 1986 s 5 with interest. In it he discussed the Communications Act 2003 s 127 and how despite the amendment to section 5, section 127 means that the courts/police remain the people responsible for deciding whether a Tweet or Facebook status was grossly offensive and therefore criminal.

He posed (in bold) three key questions, the answer to each, he suggested, was ‘no’. We disagree.

First, do we really want police and judges deciding which jokes, throwaway comments and idiotic off-the-cuff remarks are ‘grossly offensive’?

The answer to this, in our opinion, has got to be ‘yes’. Firstly, the Police/CPS make the charging decision as to whether an individual should be brought before the courts to answer for his or her actions. (It may be petty, but in this scenario, it is not the police ‘deciding’ what is grossly offensive, but merely bringing their case as to what they believe to be ‘grossly offensive’). Why should grossly offensive remarks be any different?

Secondly, judges (or juries) decide what is grossly offensive in this context, just as they do when they rule on a submission of no case to answer (whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed against the defendant) or in directing a jury to acquit where they feel the circumstances dictate.

Thirdly, there are checks and balances in place to remedy any mischief. Were a defendant to be brought before the court for making a grossly offensive remark on Twitter, there are several stages at which that decision is examined; the CPS charging stage (whether it passes the threshold, considering the DPP’s new guidance), pre-trial hearings, trial and appeal. Whilst it is not desirable that an individual is ‘dragged through the courts’ as was the case with Paul Chambers, there are procedures in place. The Paul Chambers case is (hopefully) a one-off, the beginning of the interaction between the law and social media, and is unlikely to happen again.

There is a football analogy here; when clubs (take Chelsea as an amusing example) are considering sacking their managers, they (the press and the blokes down the pub) all too often ask the question ‘is it time for him to go?’. I suggest the correct question is in fact, ‘if we sack him, can we get someone better to replace him?’, otherwise, there seems little point. This situation is the same; the police/CPS deciding to bring cases against individuals who they believe have contravened the law, and judges deciding whether in fact they have done so, is a good system. It works well and has in place checks and balances. If there is a better alternative, We would like Adam to share it with us!

We happen to think that trial by jury is the best method of determining whether something is grossly offensive; although this has obvious cost implications, it provides a more legitimate decision as to what is grossly offensive (to the public) and it limits the degree to which commentators can criticise the developing case law and ‘line in the sand’ as to what is and is not grossly offensive.

Secondly, is there a single conviction under this law which has made society a safer, better place without unduly impinging on free speech?

Most if not all cases under section 127 are going to be concerned not with public safety (is some teenager calling a celebrity a cunt an issue of public safety?)

There will be cases where a section 127 offence is properly charged in areas that have nothing to do with free speech. A good example would be someone making threats to their former partner in a phone call that falls short of a threat to kill but should still attract the sanction of the criminal law. Or where there is such a threat, but the caller is very drunk or far away so the threat is not a serious or immediate one.

Also, one of the purposes of section 127 (see section 127(2)) was to protect the public from ‘junk mailings’. Whilst this does of course infringe on free speech, it is hard to argue that it is not a legitimate interference.

Thirdly, does s.127 add anything to the already existing criminal protections against harassment and stalking?

We think the answer to this question is yes, but in limited circumstances. Firstly, as Adam has noted previously, section 127 was enacted prior to Twitter and Facebook existing, and was in fact a re-enactment of a provision designed to criminalise grossly offensive telephone messages.

Firstly, whilst there will inevitably be some overlap in how offences are charged (robberies charged as theft and section 47, or causing the death of a child charged as manslaughter for example) section 127 will still apply to nuisance phonecalls. In R v Wood 2012 EWCA Crim 156, the defendant pleaded to public nuisance after bombarding the charity Childline with phonecalls, graphically describing how he was abusing his (fictional) daughter. This would have come under the ambit of section 127, however presumably the decision was taken to charge the common law offence of public nuisance as there is no limit on the maximum sentence. Mr Wood received 3 years. Although this is an extreme case, it is an example of the type of behaviour which whilst grossly offensive, would not be covered by harassment or stalking, as there was no fear of violence.

Where an individual might make hurtful comments via social media, perhaps about a deceased friend of loved one, that do not threaten violence or put the victim in fear of violence, it is necessary for the law to be able to deal with such an event.

It seems to us therefore that section 127 is a necessary tool for the police and CPS to have. We would not disagree with Adam that section 127 can be (and has been) misused by criminalising jokes and comments which, while unpleasant should not be criminalised. The issue where the police and CPS (and to a lesser extent the courts) draw that invisible line.

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28 thoughts on “In defence of section 127 (sort of)

  1. Adam Wagner

    Thanks for linking to my post and for the response, which I disagree with as you might imagine. A quick response:

    1. On the first question, you have avoided the broader question of whether we want the *criminal justice system* policing social media speech. My view is that we don’t. The police charge, courts (jury or judge) decide. The police and the CPS have huge power in this respect – going through the criminal process, even (perhaps especially) if you are acquitted (cf. Paul Chambers) is a nightmare for those involved, particularly people who have sent a stupid tweet and are about to have their life ruined for doing so.

    Fundamentally, what causes “gross offence” on social media is a question of social sensitivity and squeamishness, not one which needs to get anywhere near a court. That is why we have the court of public opinion, marketplace of ideas… etc, pick your clumsy free speech phrase.

    Checks and balances, fine, what about all of the people who are being investigated, arrested, potentially charged, reported about in the press… all for a stupid joke / sick sense of humour? It is absurd. See e.g. this idiot:

    http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news//tm_headline=cps-drops-case-against-liverpool-man-who-wished-scousers-dead-in-a-vile-foul-mouthed-online-hillsborough-rant%26method=full%26objectid=32608591%26siteid=100252-name_page.html

    2. No just safer, better – you ignored that bit of the question! Even so, I do think that with any social issue which is serious enough to be dealt with under the criminal law (with potential prison sentences and life-ruining convictions), we can legitimately ask whether these potential sanctions are making society better and safer. If not, get rid.

    The malicious phone call example is a bit cheeky – clearly, I am concerned with the expansion of this provision to social media, not the original aim which was to prevent people making menacing phone calls. Which is why I suggest the provision should be reformed, not repealed.

    3. You might be right – but as you say, the Childline case was brought under a different provision. So the answer to question 3 can’t really be yes on your evidence. Even if it was, I will rephrase slightly: ” does s.127 add anything to the already existing criminal protections against harassment and stalking ON SOCIAL MEDIA?” The answer is no.

    Reply
    1. Lyndon Harris Post author

      Hi Adam. Thanks.

      1. I think we do want the criminal justice system to police social media speech-who else will? If it is an offence to write an article, display a banner or otherwise advocate something that is grossly offensive, then why shouldn’t it be an offence to tweet something grossly offensive? If that is the case then the proper forum is surely the criminal justice system.

      I agree with you wholeheartedly re being dragged through the courts and I have no doubt that it is an ordeal, particularly if one is acquitted. This is why it is so vital that people participate in this debate and respond to the DPPs guidance. However, I fall back to the position that where the police use their discretion and pass a case onto the CPS, and they in turn (properly) exercise their discretion in deciding whether or not to charge, the system works as it should.

      Re the court of public opinion, is that not people making complaints to the police and a jury deciding whether or not the Tweet etc. is in fact grossly offensive?

      Re your Liverpool example, I think it correct he is not charged. Perhaps after a full debate and some case law from the CoA, the police would not even consider contacting the CPS. For the individual, it serves as a warning to be careful what he (and everyone) is saying on social media sites.

      2. I accept what you say about the phone call case!

      As for whether it makes society safer, better etc. I think, just like the public order offences, there are problems, but eventually the legislation will operate as it ought to-protecting from messages, comments etc which overstep the mark – the difficult question is where is the line drawn.

      3. If there is no issue with the existing offences on the statute book (which were enacted before Twitter was invented, with the exception of the new LASPO stalking offences) then what is the issue with section 127? I agree with the idea of pruning the statute book of dead weight, however, unless you can guarantee that all offences charged under s127 would be charged and stand an equal chance of conviction under another provision, I fail to see the issue with s127 – with one major caveat: providing that it is used in the manner in which it should be-not impinging on one’s rights to offend and be offended.

      Reply
      1. Matt Flaherty

        “Re your Liverpool example, I think it correct he is not charged. Perhaps after a full debate and some case law from the CoA, the police would not even consider contacting the CPS. For the individual, it serves as a warning to be careful what he (and everyone) is saying on social media sites.”

        Doubtful. The police are not going to want to be seen as not doing something. They will gauge the scale and vociferousness of the complaints they receive. This is very easy to coordinate if you have an agenda, as did Casual United with the poppy burner guy. The police are not equipped to make this sort of value judgement and are themselves biased. In the cases involving insulting the memories of dead soldiers and officers it’s not hard to predict what the police response would be. I see now that you left out a “not” in your last reply to me below. That’s better. In your last sentence above you perfectly encapsulate the chilling effect.

        “Re the court of public opinion, is that not people making complaints to the police and a jury deciding whether or not the Tweet etc. is in fact grossly offensive?”

        Okay, then it should be an either way offence. Presently it is a summary offence which does not involve juries.

        ” If there is no issue with the existing offences on the statute book (which were enacted before Twitter was invented, with the exception of the new LASPO stalking offences) then what is the issue with section 127?”

        The issue is that it was passed into law without any debate as a result of a European framework directive. The potential for trouble was there, but it did not become a problem until Chambers when the CPS decided to get into judicial activism. Far from a one-off, it is entirely because of that case that we have had dozens more in the last couple years, many involving communications around the riots of August 2011 where people claimed to have been joking. The CPS opened the can of worms and now they’re complaining that they’d have too many cases to prosecute unless something changes. It’s as if the invention of the internet and twitter has suddenly turned millions of otherwise decent people into potential criminals.

      2. Lyndon Harris Post author

        I don’t think it is helpful or indeed accurate to say that the police as a whole are biased, unable to exercise discretion and decide whether to pursue an allegation based on the volume of the complaints as opposed to it’s content.

        Glad we agree re juries. It gives more legitimacy to the decision as to whether something is grossly offensive.

        If you accept that people cannot be completely free to say whatever they like (Public Order Act offences) then presumably you accept that such a restriction must also apply to the Internet. If so, then we are merely disagreeing where the ‘criminal’ line is drawn.

        I think you’re comment that the Internet/twitter has turned millions if decent people into criminals is interesting; people posting racist and homophobic comments on the Internet presumably wouldn’t stand on a soap box outside their local pub and recite such comments. It is people who make themselves criminals. Where society does that to them, something has gone wrong. An example of which can in my view be seen in the Matthew Woods case.

        But again, once the law has ‘settled down’ in this area, what is to say that it won’t operate proportionately and fairly?

      3. Matt Flaherty

        “I don’t think it is helpful or indeed accurate to say that the police as a whole are biased, unable to exercise discretion and decide whether to pursue an allegation based on the volume of the complaints as opposed to it’s content.”

        It is not only accurate, it is crucial particularly now that we have elected commissioners who are sensitive to political trends. The level and volume of complaints is going to inform the police about the issues that the community feels need to be tackled. If 10,000 people from all over complain about an offensive communication it is going to be regarded as something that needs to be dealt with. The sender of the message will be taken in for questioning at the very least. This has given way to mob justice, which is undeniably at odds with the Convention.

        “Glad we agree re juries. It gives more legitimacy to the decision as to whether something is grossly offensive.”

        Most juries would laugh out of court the notable cases that lower court judges have tied themselves in knots over.

        “If you accept that people cannot be completely free to say whatever they like (Public Order Act offences) then presumably you accept that such a restriction must also apply to the Internet. If so, then we are merely disagreeing where the ‘criminal’ line is drawn.”

        The internet is more like a book or a pamphlet. It does not have the same public order immediacy as someone behaving badly in a crowd. The police are good at judging public order problems as they happen. They are not good at casting a critical eye of something that was written to be publicly available. However, where it is clear that something has been written in order to incite fear, violence or hatred and is capable of doing so, the police can and should act. The Comms Act doesn’t provide any tools here that are not redundant.

        “But again, once the law has ‘settled down’ in this area, what is to say that it won’t operate proportionately and fairly?”

        As a society we do not need protection against what may be deemed offensive even to the point of what is beyond the pale. We benefit from protection against unsolicited communications of a proscribed nature that were initiated by someone else. That was the thrust of the Post Office (Amended) Act. A piece of content that we discover or that makes the rounds because it resonates is not unsolicited. One way or another we went looking for it, whether by searching or with the people we follow and our desire to be connected. Another major difference to the telephony use case is that social media offence is shared and dissected. It leads to useful discussion, with good speech (and some bad speech) following bad. We should let the marketplace of ideas decide what is acceptable, not the law. In some cultures it would be considered grossly offensive to insult a prophet or the ruler our founder of the natrion. In this country there is a strong impulse to punish those who would make light of certain hot button issues such as paedophilia and rape. This mainly arises from a perceived need to respect strong public sentiment, but this is folly.

        Certainly we do need to draw a line under grossly offensive as a threshold, and the bar needs to be very high. But we also need to make distinctions between various modes of communication and not that the psychology and the effects are very different.

      4. Dan Bunting

        “As a society we do not need protection against what may be deemed offensive even to the point of what is beyond the pale”. I pretty much agree with that. I do think though that we need to have a debate (as a society) as to when we should criminalise ‘grossly offensive’ speech. Should we ever? If so, when and under what circumstances? Does it matter whether the speech is ‘political’, or directed against someone who has put themselves in the public eye? Should there be a separate rule for email and private correspondence as opposed to public or semi-public ones? The internet is a game changer in so many ways and we need the law to work out what we want to do about it all.

        In any event, I think that it should be a jury that decides.

        I think that s127(2) should be retained, but that’s a separate issue.

      5. Lyndon Harris Post author

        I think I would agree with this save for the question whether grossly offensive speech should be criminalised at all. Whatever the phrase used by the legislation (whether s127 remains or is replaced with a new Social Media Act etc) I think there has to be a provision which criminalises language which whilst not threatening or violent, is generally accepted to be so offensive (pick your own description) that it is criminal.

      6. Matt Flaherty

        “Whatever the phrase used by the legislation (whether s127 remains or is replaced with a new Social Media Act etc) I think there has to be a provision which criminalises language which whilst not threatening or violent, is generally accepted to be so offensive (pick your own description) that it is criminal.”

        Is that still true if it’s written in a book? If it’s a work of fiction or some type of performance art? If it’s designed to provoke but also to make an important point? Yes, context is everything as has so oft been repeated. However, this does not imply that context is anything you want it to be. I believe that in the context where offensive language should be punishable within the criminal law, that language would be more appropriately dealt with using other provisions. The medium in which the speech act is done (electronically, verbally, pen and ink) should not be a factor. What should be a factor instead is the mode in which it is done.

      7. Lyndon Harris Post author

        So whether someone sends a Tweet, writes a novel, says it in the pub, publishes an article or says it on television, the offence should be the same offence?

        Is it not the case that for example some comments on Twitter could not be charged under s5 Public Order Act? If so the current provisions are not appropriate as some conducts falls outwith their scope.

        Im not against a new offence – far from it – but expect the problems with s 127 to raise their ugly heads…

      8. Matt Flaherty

        If certain tweets could not be charged under the POA or some other provision because of insufficient evidence of intent or some other factor, then that probably tells us that they should not be charged at all. Most speech should not be charged at all. It is only when it is deemed necessary in a democratic society and in pursuit of a legitimate aim that the State may interfere. It also has to be in accordance with law, which itself implies that the law is formulated with sufficient precision that the offence is foreseeable. That’s been a big problem here.

      9. Dan Bunting

        That is an important point – the lack of certainty. I can’t see any way around it to be honest though!

        I think the problem with leaving it in the hands of the CPS policy is that neither the DPP nor any of the Crown prosecutors are elected, or have any democratic input into their appointment. That may be a good thing given their role, but it should not be their responsibility in those circumstances.

      10. Matt Flaherty

        The CPS will tell you (and they argued this in Chambers) that the balancing act required by Article 10.2 should be left to them in the public interest stage of their Full Code Test. However, they have demonstrated time and again that they are incapable of taking their Article 6 obligations seriously until someone calls them on it. To this end, the public consultation is a very good thing. However, there is no apparent awareness in the CPS that the present conundrum is their own making. They felt they needed to get a guy (Paul Chambers) to send a message, but they couldn’t get him on the appropriate charge. Therefore, some bright spark of a prosecutor scoured the books and found s127 of the Communications Act, which they initially believed was a strict liability offence and only conceded this point half way through the appeal at Crown Court. This was essentially taking the two stages (evidential and public interest) out of order.

        Had they referred to DPP v Collins early on, they never would have charged Paul. As it happened, he pleaded guilty because he was advised he had no choice. When it became clear that the advice was bad, Paul was able to vacate the plea. Unfortunately although the District Judge agreed that Collins required mens rea, he was persuaded of guilt. 26 months later the conviction was finally overturned. Keir Starmer now says that in retrospect Chambers was an easy case(!) and that Chambers v DPP is a narrow factual decision which sets no precedent. Stunning. We cannot leave this up to the CPS to decide. We need to change the law.

      11. Dan Bunting

        I certainly don’t trust the CPS to conduct the balancing exercise. Chambers was certainly an easy case- it should never have been prosecuted – obviously so.

      12. Lyndon Harris Post author

        If you agree that behaviour on Twitter/Facebook or even the Internet generally is not outside of the law (which it appears you do), then you accept that offences such as harassment or stalking apply (which you appear to do). It seems then that the only quarrel you have is with section 127 (whether it is necessary or not) and the level at which behaviour becomes, or ought to become, ‘criminal’. If the DPP’s guidance sets the correct balance, and the CPS charge when appropriate and take no action when appropriate, does the problem with section 127 disappear?

      13. Matt Flaherty

        If the CPS guidance managed to strike the right balance, then the situation would be much more favourable; however, I’ve read the interim guidance and he doesn’t have it quite right. At any rate, guidance is not legally binding and serves only to remove ambiguity from the decision making process. It is more for the benefit of the prosecutors and law enforcement than for the general public. Even where guidance is very clear, it has been demonstrated that front line police have often misapplied the law when they wanted to persuade someone to stop doing something. I’m thinking of cases where photographers have been harassed and threatened under the Terrorism Act for example.

      14. Lyndon Harris Post author

        The guidance would be for the CPS and not the police. Is it right that the police investigate an allegation where it seems credible and that there has been an offence committed? Yes. In which case, once the definitive guidance is drafted, the CPS should be in a much better position in applying the charging test.

        I accept your examples of the photographers. I also accept that some police are incapable of exercising discretion and common sense. But some are.

        I should make clear I am not wholeheartedly in support of s 127, the CPS guidance and generally curtailing free speech, but I do think that some behaviour online should be criminal and that the law has got to be given (a bit) of time to work it out.

        As Dan said, the Internet is a game changer and it is foolish to think that the law be altered with no teething problems, no hiccups and no mistakes. It is regrettable and for those who end up in the Mags’ pleading because they have made a joke in bad taste, that is not much of a consolation.

  2. Matt Flaherty

    As I said in twitter comments, if s127 is limited to directed communication it can stay. Current CPS draft guidance wants it wider than that and looks upon making a tweet, for example, as sending a message to all of your followers. This thinking ignores that this is a publisher/subscriber relationship. I do not tweet to one thousand people. I create a tweet and one thousand people have chosen to be notified of it. This is nothing like an unwanted telephone call. There are several easy remedies against this sort of bad behaviour on social media that are not so readily available in general telephony. The most obvious remedy is to stop subscribing. Taking this further, one may choose to block an account and report it for abuse. Serious cases can be dealt with in the criminal law using more appropriate provisions.

    Reply
  3. Matt Flaherty

    “Where an individual might make hurtful comments via social media, perhaps about a deceased friend of loved one, that do not threaten violence or put the victim in fear of violence, it is necessary for the law to be able to deal with such an event.”

    No it is absolutely not necessary in a democratic society for the law to be able to deal with that, nor is it desirable unless this is a directed communication, which is abusive. Think of all the instances in which people make jokes about the recent deaths of celebrities or opine that the world would really be a much better place if David Cameron, George Osborne and Michael Gove were all tossed into a shark tank. Someone would certainly find these remarks hurtful. How about we revisit a passage of Chambers v DPP (para 28):

    “The 2003 Act did not create some newly minted interference with the first of
    President Roosevelt’s essential freedoms – freedom of speech and expression.
    Satirical, or iconoclastic, or rude comment, the expression of unpopular or
    unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humour, even if
    distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it should and no doubt will
    continue at their customary level, quite undiminished by this legislation. Given the
    submissions by Mr Cooper, we should perhaps add that for those who have the
    inclination to use “Twitter” for the purpose, Shakespeare can be quoted
    unbowdlerised, and with Edgar, at the end of King Lear, they are free to speak not
    what they ought to say, but what they feel.”

    Reply
    1. Lyndon Harris Post author

      Perhaps my poor choice of words has led to this comment-section 127 ought not to be used to criminalise the hurtful, insulting or unpleasant remarks made by individuals on twitter, but, merely the grossly offensive comments. With the Chambers decision, guidance by the DPP and developing case law, section 127 ought to protect the public without improperly impinging on free speech.

      As to tweets being targeted and subscribers, whilst it is a relevant point, I see that it only goes to sentence and not conviction. A tweet is accessible by anyone. If you send a grossly offensive tweet about (not to) David Cameron, wishing some harm to his family but presenting no immediate threat, anyone searching for ‘David Cameron twitter’ etc. could stumble across it. Therefore the law must provide cater for that circumstance , surely?

      I think the real issue here is where the bar is set as to what is grossly offensive.

      As to using other criminal offences to police such behaviour, the criticism of the Comms Act being drafted prior to twitter even existing would apply to the Public Order Act also. The wonderful thing about the common law is that it is organic and can adapt. And it will.

      Reply
      1. Matt Flaherty

        ” If you send a grossly offensive tweet about (not to) David Cameron, wishing some harm to his family but presenting no immediate threat, anyone searching for ‘David Cameron twitter’ etc. could stumble across it.”

        And I invite you to try that with DC or any one of a number of unpleasant people. See how many perps you would be looking to make criminals. No. Absolutely, no. I could not disagree more. If a comedian can make jokes that might be deemed grossly offensive on stage, you should be allowed to do that in a general way on a platform that you control and that others can easily avoid. If I were to video Jerry Sadowicz making grossly offensive jokes and put that video onto YouTube, is Sadowicz guilty of an offence? Am I? In s127 it is the sending that matters, not the recipients. This only makes sense if the sender had certain recipients in mind. It’s not my fault if someone takes a private joke I make in an email and forwards that to a newsgroup. Look at the case that Adam refers you to. A Liverpool man made a video that was deemed grossly offensive but only released it to a small number of people on Facebook. Someone took it and made it public on YouTube. The originator contacted the police HIMSELF and yet was treated as a suspect. He may have been the sender (privately) in the first instance. He was not in the second instance. Nor was Matthew Woods when someone else posted his sick April Jones joke to a Facebook community page dedicated to her. Sometimes I feel like we’ve all lost our minds.

      2. Lyndon Harris Post author

        Are you suggesting that of you send a grossly offensive tweet not directed at an individual, irrespective of its content, that should not be an offence?

        I accept Your point about jokes and that is why I said the real issue is where the bar is set in relation to what constitutes a grossly offensive message.

        In the context of a comedian however it is of course relevant that the audience have Chosen to attend a comedy gig knowing the likely material of the performer.

        The case that Adam cited is clearly one in which the prosecution should be brought. The CPS have issued a statement saying there will be no prosecution and so in this instance the system of checks and balances works, does it not?

      3. Matt Flaherty

        “Are you suggesting that of you send a grossly offensive tweet not directed at an individual, irrespective of its content, that should not be an offence?”

        Forget about tweeting. What about web pages? Those are made available over PECNs too. Doesn’t matter whether they are for members only. If they and their contents are sent by way of a PECN they are caught. Don’t forget that this statute also covers indecent and obscene material. A tweet to your public timeline is a soliloquy. Two football fans were arrested last year for tweeting something unpleasant about a referee who had previously suffered cancer. He made a controversial call these guys independently said words to the effect “I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again.” This got back to him and he complained. The police took it seriously. The perps admitted it. They were just watching the match and said what popped into their heads. Don’t you see how dangerous this is?

        “In the context of a comedian however it is of course relevant that the audience have Chosen to attend a comedy gig knowing the likely material of the performer.”

        And people choose to use Twitter, which is full of public discourse of all types. People choosing to search twitter are no different from people choosing to search Google. They may find my blog somehow and feel that something I’ve written is grossly offensive. I don’t want to have to explain to the police that they are being unreasonable.

        “The case that Adam cited is clearly one in which the prosecution should be brought. The CPS have issued a statement saying there will be no prosecution and so in this instance the system of checks and balances works, does it not?”

        Now you’re surely having me on. I suppose you think the police were right to arrest the guy who burned a poppy on Remembrance Day and put a photo on Facebook? In the Liverpool case if you’re going to charge anyone, charge whoever took the video and put it on YouTube. The system of checks and balances does not work well enough when people are so easily persuaded to admit to charges, thus encourages more and more similar charges being brought. As I said before, the process has often been the punishment. Being held in a cell overnight is not much fun, despite the CPS deciding not to charge.

  4. Dan Bunting

    Isn’t there a relevant distinction in relation to the balancing act for Art 10 with someone like David Cameron, who has put himself in the public eye, and an ‘ordinary’ member of the public?

    I think that there is a proper distinction between a tweet sent to someone specifically and a tweet where the ‘victim’ wouldn’t know about it unless they google themselves or find out about it from a 3rd party?

    Reply
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