Sheriff O'Carroll had told the court he did not believe Meechan had made the video only to annoy his girlfriend and ruled it was anti-Semitic. Fining Meechan, he said:
You deliberately chose the Holocaust as the theme of the video.
I also found it proved that the video contained anti-Semitic, and racist material, in that it explicitly and exclusively referred to Jews, the Holocaust and the role of the Nazis in the death of six million Jews in a grossly offensive manner. You
knew or must have known that.
The social work report on you is important. It is very favourable to you and, leaving aside the circumstances of this offence, shows you to have led a generally pro-social life thus far.
It also shows that you have learned a certain amount from your experiences and that you are of low risk of reoffending.
In these circumstances, I rule out a custodial sentence and therefore any alternative to a custodial sentence. You have a certain amount of income and other resources according to the reports. I now fine you the sum of 2£800.
Offsite Comment: Count Dankula and the death of free speech
On freedom of speech, Britain has become the laughing stock of the Western world. People actually laugh at us. I
recently gave a talk in Brazil on political correctness and I told the audience about the arrest and conviction of a Scottish man for publishing a video of his girlfriend's pug doing a Nazi salute for a joke and they laughed. Loudly. Some of them
refused to believed it was true.
Google has released their latest transparency report, for Youtube takedowns. It contains information about the number of
government requests for terrorist or extremist content to be removed. For a number of years, the government has promoted the idea that terrorist content is in rampant circulation, and that the amount of material is so abundant that the UK police
alone are taking down up to 100,000 pieces of content a year.
These referrals, to Google, Facebook and others, come from a unit hosted at the Metropolitan Police, called CTIRU, or the Counter-Terrorism Internet Referrals Unit
. This unit has very minimal transparency about its work. Apart from claiming to have removed over 300,000 pieces of terrorist-related content over a number of years, it refuses to say how large its workforce or budget are, and has never defined
what a piece of content is.
Google and Twitter publish separate takedown request figures for the UK that must be largely from CTIRU. The numbers are much smaller than the tens of thousands that might be expected at each platform given the CTIRU figures of around 100,000
removals a year. For instance, Google reported 683 UK government takedown requests for 2,491 items through
Google and Twitter's figures imply that CTIRU file perhaps 2,000-4,000 removal requests a year, for maybe 12,000 items at most, implying a statistical inflation by CTIRU of around 1,000%.
A number of CTIRU requests
have been published on the takedown transparency database Lumen. These sometimes have more than one URL for takedown. However this alone does not explain the disparity.
Perhaps a 'piece of terrorist content' is counted as that 'piece' viewed by each person known to follow a terrorist account, or perhaps everything on a web page is counted as a piece of terrorist content, meaning each web page might contain a
Nonetheless, we cannot discount the possibility that the methodologies for reporting at the companies are in some way flawed. Without further information from CTIRU, we simply don't know whose figures are more reliable.
There are concerns that go beyond the statistics. CTIRU's work is never reviewed by a judge, and there are no appeals to ask CTIRU to stop trying to remove a website or content. It compiles a secret list of websites to be blocked on the public
estate, such as schools, departmental offices or hospitals, supplied to unstated companies via the Home Office. More or less nothing is known: except for the headline figure.
Certainly, CTIRU do not provide the same level of transparency as Google and other companies claim to be providing.
People have tried extracting further information from CTIRU, such as the content of the blacklist, but without success. Ministers have refused to supply financial information to Parliament, citing national security. ORG is the latest group to ask
for information, for a list of statistics
and a list of documents
; turned down on grounds of national security and crime prevention. In the case of statistics, CTIRU are currently claiming they hold no statistics other than their overall takedown figure; which if true, seems astoundingly lax from even a basic
The methodology for calculating CTIRU's single statistic needs to be published, because what we do know about CTIRU is meaningless without it. Potentially, Parliament and the public are be being misled; or otherwise, misreporting by Internet
platforms needs to be corrected.
A woman from Liverpool has been found guilty of sending a supposedly grossly offensive message after posting rap
lyrics on Instagram.
The post referenced lyrics from Snap Dogg's I'm Trippin' to pay tribute to a 13-year-old boy who had died in a road crash in 2017. It is not clear exactly which words were deemed to 'hate crimes' but the words 'bitch' and 'nigga' seem to be
the only relevant candidates.
Merseyside Police were anonymously sent a screenshot of the woman's Instagram update (on a public profile), which was received by hate crime unit PC Dominique Walker. PC Walker told the court the term the woman had used was grossly offensive to
her as a black woman and to the general community.
The Liverpool Echo reported that the woman's defence had argued the usage of the word had changed over time and it had been used by superstar rapper Jay-Z in front of thousands of people at the Glastonbury Festival.
The woman was given an eight-week community order, placed on an eight-week curfew and fined £585.
Prosecutors said her sentence was increased from a fine to a community order as it was a 'hate crime'.
Offsite Comment: Now it's a crime to quote rap lyrics? Censorship in Britain is out of control.
Brendan O'Neill notes that these are the lyrics she quoted:
Off a whole gram of molly, and my bitch think I'm trippin.
Now I'm clutchin' on my forty, all I can think about is drillin''.
I hate fuck shit, slap a bitch nigga, kill a snitch nigga, rob a rich nigga.'
We now live under a bizarre tyranny of self-esteem, where hurt feelings can lead to court cases, and where the easily offended can marshal the state to crush those who dared to offend them. An unholy marriage between our wimpish offence-taking
culture and a state desperate to be seen as caring and purposeful has nurtured an insidious new censorship that targets everything from comedy and rap to criticism of Islam or strongly stated political views.
Police are to drop their controversial policy of automatically believing anyone who reports a crime.
A top-level report obtained by The Mail on Sunday says official guidance should be changed to tell detectives they must listen to victims and take them seriously -- but not automatically assume they are telling the truth.
The dramatic move follows a series of unjust inquiries based on false allegations that left dozens of innocent people's lives and reputations destroyed, including high-profile figures.
The U-turn has been drawn up by the College of Policing, which sets national standards, and after being considered by chief constables last week it will be sent to Home Office Ministers to become official policy.
Last night, former Police Minister David Mellor, who served under Leon Brittan, told the MoS: It's been obvious for years that the policy of automatic belief invites time-wasters and it's an invitation to cranks to come forward with ludicrous
allegations. He said:
Plainly if someone complains of a crime, that has got to be looked at, but the idea police should assume they're telling the truth invites dreadful injustice.
However, the change will be fiercely opposed by some feminist campaigners who seem to think that its ok to lock up innocent men, saying it will deter genuine rape victims from coming forward, for fear they will be disbelieved or ignored.
It takes 10s of 1000s of pounds for the justice system to consider the nuances of censorship and the right to be forgotten yet we hand over the task to Google who's only duty is to maximise profits for shareholders
A businessman fighting for the right to be forgotten has won a UK High Court action against Google.
The unnamed businessman who won his case was convicted 10 years ago of conspiring to intercept communications. He spent six months in jail. He as ked Google to delete online details of his conviction from Google Search but his request was turned
The judge, Mr Justice Mark Warby, ruled in his favour on Friday.
But he rejected a separate but similar claim made by another businessman who had committed a more serious crime. The other businessman, who lost his case, was convicted more than 10 years ago of conspiring to account falsely. He spent four years
Google said it would accept the rulings.
We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are in the public interest, it said in a statement:
We are pleased that the Court recognised our efforts in this area, and we will respect the judgements they have made in this case.'
Explaining the decisions made on Friday, the judge said one of the men had continued to mislead the public while the other had shown remorse.
But how is Google the right organisation to arbitrate on matters of justice where it is required to examine the level of remorse shown by those requesting censorship?
The BBC has defended a decision to air Enoch Powell's 1968 Rivers of Blood speech on Radio 4.
The Archive on 4 programme, presented by BBC media editor Amol Rajan, will on Saturday broadcast the right-wing MP's anti-immigration speech - voiced by an actor - in full, for the first time.
The decision to do so was criticised as an incitement to racial hatred. The peer Andrew Adonis has called for the broadcast to be banned, and has written to the TV censor Ofcom. He wrote: What is happening to our public service broadcaster?
He said the speech was the worst incitement to racial violence by a public figure in modern Britain. He added: Obviously this matter will be raised in parliament should the broadcast go ahead.
Presumably critics are worried that the concerns voiced by Enoch Powell still exist today, and so may chime with listeners. Surely if this is the case, then it would be better if views were aired so that the authorities could address the concerns.
For instance if politicians had been better aware of such opinions, they would not have called the incredibly divisive Brexit referendum.
The BBC said there would be rigorous journalistic analysis and the show was not endorsing controversial views.
Delivered to local Conservative Party members in Birmingham, days before the second reading of the 1968 Race Relations Bill, then MP Powell referenced observations made by his Wolverhampton constituents including in 15 or 20 years' time the black
man will have the whip hand over the white man. He ended with a quote from Virgil's Aeneid, when civil war in Italy is predicted with the River Tiber foaming with much blood.
The anti-immigration speech ended his career in Edward Heath's shadow cabinet.
Archive on 4 will broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturday at 8pm.
We received complaints from people who feel it is irresponsible to broadcast Enoch Powell's 1968 Rivers of Blood speech.
BBC Radio 4's well established programme Archive on 4 reflects in detail on historical events. Many people know of this controversial speech but few have heard it beyond soundbites and, in order to assess the speech fully and its impact on the
immigration debate, it will be analysed by a wide range of contributors including many anti-racism campaigners.
This is a rigorous journalistic analysis of a historical political speech. It is not an endorsement of the controversial views and we believe people should wait to hear the programme before they judge it.
Justice is not seen to being done in the UK. A string of cases have emerged where men have been prosecuted for
rape whilst evidence suggesting their innocence has been kept hidden away by the authorities. The presumption is that the authorities are willing to let innocent people be convicted so as to inflate the rape conviction rates to keep feminist
But once exposed, this failure in justice is surely very corrosive in trying to keep society ticking over in increasingly tetchy times.
So even the police have decided something needs to be done about this disastrous approach to justice. Met police commissioner Cressida Dick has announced that the police will abandon the policy of automatically believing 'victims '. [but
using the word 'victims' rather suggests the she still automatically believes complainants].
Dick said officers must investigate rather than blindly believe an allegation, and should keep an open mind when a 'victim' has come forward. It is very important to victims to feel that they are going to be believed , she told the Times.
[But what about when they are out and out lying]. She added:
Our default position is we are, of course, likely to believe you but we are investigators and we have to investigate.
Dick spoke about several other topics including a whinge about the violent undercurrent in some music, especially grime.
Meanwhile Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecution overseeing this disgraceful period of injustice, will not get her contract renewed by the government.
The UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights publishes report
into free speech in universities, highlighting serious concerns over barriers to free speech. The Committee has also published its own guidance for universities and students organising events to empower them to protect and promote this vital human
Factors limiting free speech in universities
The Committee say that there are a number of factors which actively limit free speech in universities, including:
Intolerant attitudes, often incorrectly using the banner of "no-platforming" and "safe-space" policies
Incidents of unacceptable intimidating behaviour by protestors intent on preventing free speech and debate
Student Unions being overly cautious for fear of breaking the rules
Unnecessary bureaucracy imposed on those organising events
Fear and confusion over what the Prevent Duty entails
Unduly complicated and cautious guidance from the Charity Commission.
However, as solutions to the above concerns, MPs and Peers are recommending to students, universities and the authorities:
That an independent review of the Prevent policy is necessary to assess what impact it is having on students and free speech, after evidence the Committee took demonstrated an adverse effect on events with student faith
That the Charity Commission, which regulates student unions as registered charities, review its approach and guidance, and that its actions are proportionate and are adequately explained to student unions and don't
unnecessarily limit free speech
That the Office for Students should ensure university policies proactively secure lawful free speech and are not overly burdensome
That student societies should not stop other student societies from holding their meetings. They have the right to protest but must not seek to stop events entirely
That while there must be opportunities for genuinely sensitive discussions, and that the whole of the university cannot be a "safe space." Universities must be places where open debate can take place so that
students can develop their own opinions on unpopular, controversial or provocative ideas
Groups or individuals holding unpopular opinions which are within the law should not be shut down nor be subject to undue additional scrutiny by student unions or universities.
Members of the Committee believe that codes of practice on freedom of speech should facilitate debate, not unduly restrict it.
Freedom of speech is vital in universities
Chair of the Committee, Harriet Harman MP, said:
Freedom of speech within the law should mean just that -- and it is vital in universities.
Evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights showed that there is a problem of inhibition of free speech in universities.
While media reporting has focussed on students inhibiting free speech -- and in our report we urge universities to take action to prevent that -- free speech is also inhibited by university bureaucracy and restrictive
guidance from the Charity Commission.
We want students themselves to know their rights to free speech and that's why we've issued a guide for students today.