A local Dewsbury columnist who wrote that had the Cumbria mass-murderer been carrying the Qur'an he would have been celebrated by so-called British Muslims will not face prosecution, Dewsbury police announced.
Writing three days after Derrick Bird murdered 12 people in Cumbria, the local paper's columnist, Danny Lockwood, wrote that had Bird been carrying a copy of the Qur'an, he would have been celebrated as a hero by tens of thousands, possibly
more, of so-called 'British' Muslims.
Lockwood made the analogy in his weekly column Ed Lines hitting out at the Home Office's decision to allow Muslim scholar Zakir Naik into the county.
A spokesman for Dewsbury Police confirmed to The Muslim News that 70 people had lodged a formal complaint: We received a number of complaints about the content of the article which appeared in The Press. We then had to liaise with the Crown
Prosecution Service for advice on the matter and enquiries were ongoing at that stage. Following that week we received notice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that the matter would not be perused any further.
A CPS spokesman told The Muslim News: It should be noted that the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 contains wide exemptions for freedom of speech, specifically saying that nothing in the Act shall prohibit or restrict 'discussion,
criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions'. According the legal guidance evidence would have had to be obtained revealing that Lockwood used threatening language to stir up
religious hatred. Threatening is the operative word, not abusive or insulting. So using abusive or insulting behaviour intended to stir up religious hatred does not constitute an offence, nor does using threatening words likely to stir up
Of course if Lockwood had made his comments in public, then all there fine words about freedom of speech would have been forgotten about. The CPS could have then done him under catch all public order offences where mere insult is enough to get a
A petition was circulated which asks for a retraction and full public apology. It also calls for local people, businesses and politicians of all persuasions to boycott the paper. A protest was also organised with 300 demonstrators gathering
outside Dewsbury Police Station on June 6.
Local campaigner, Abdul Hai, told The Muslim News he and many of Dewsbury's Muslims were appalled by the CPS's decision not to bring charges; this newspaper, and particularly this columnist, has been writing things like this for ten years or
more. Sadly we've become used to it but this is the straw that broke the camel's back. People are upset and people are angry.
Lockwood has since apologised, writing a week after making the controversial comparison.
Among the contenders for the Michael Powell award for best new British feature is Brilliantlove , a striking debut by Ashley Horner and this year's hot sex in cinema shock.
It's certainly the most explicit British film since Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs , featuring really sweaty, ecstasy-fuelled sex between leads Liam Browne and Nancy Trotter Landry.
I don't know if it's real sex – which always gets people in a bit of moral lather – but it certainly feels authentic, almost musty.
He's an amateur photographer called Manchester, she's a taxidermist called Noon, they live in a garage and in truth, as characters they're a bit forced and annoying (particularly him). But there's no denying the poetic headiness of the sex scenes
nor the serious intentions of the film's ideas about privacy, art, exploitation and porn.
Retailer HMV has withdrawn anti-English World Cup banners, following complaints to police that they could incite racial hatred.
Record chain HMV has removed items with the letters ABE – which stands for Anyone But England – from window displays in its Scottish stores.
It follows a number of objections from the public to the company, as well as a complaint to the police from the Campaign for an English Parliament (CEP).
A police officer visited an HMV store in Kirkcaldy constituency earlier this week and company bosses quickly agreed to remove the banners from all their stores north of the Border.
Now HMV said it was no longer actively promoting the ABE goods, including T-shirts, through banners and displays, and that it would stop selling them once stocks had been sold. [they will hardly have chance to
restock, England don't look like lasting long]
Stuart Parr, a member of the CEP's national council whinged: The Campaign for an English Parliament will challenge any company that incites racial hatred towards the English, he said. Racism is unacceptable no matter who it is directed
against, including English people.
But Tam Ferry, from the Association of Tartan Army Clubs, said: This is just political correctness gone mad again: I have got one of the T-shirts, and I think it's great that HMV were putting up banners.
Football is all about rivalry and having a bit of banter. Have the police got nothing better to do than take away a bit of fun from people? There's bigger problems in this country that they should be dealing with rather than this.
Trevor Phillips, head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has described the ABE slogan as good-natured banter that was unlikely to cause offence .
Aberdeen North SNP MSP Brian Adam said: I would have thought that it's all light-hearted and not in any way serious. If people take offence, they should remember that we have to put up with a lot of images about Scotland, such as the ones
about mean and miserable Scots. Also, people in Scotland might take exception to having goods promoted with images of the English team on and the English flag. The whole thing will be over soon and people should just get a sense of humour.
A spokeswoman for Fife Constabulary said: We received a complaint on Monday 14 June, regarding the Anyone But England banners. An officer attended the HMV store in Kirkcaldy and spoke to the manager there to make him aware of the complaint and
to give advice. Ultimately, it was HMV's decision to remove the banners.
Nazi is now a recognised slang word rather than an historical insult, Jon Gaunt's lawyers told the high court today in the former TalkSport presenter's legal battle with media regulator Ofcom.
Gaunt is challenging, on freedom of speech grounds, Ofcom's decision to censure the station after he labelled a councillor a Nazi on air, an exchange which resulted in his sacking.
His lawyer, Gavin Millar QC, told the court that Ofcom had acted disproportionately by censuring TalkSport and impugning his client's professional reputation, in contravention of article 10 of the European convention on human rights.
He said that Gaunt had not used the word Nazi in an historical or ideological sense. There is now a recognised slang of the word Nazi [as] one who imposes their views on others.
Gaunt's legal team say that Ofcom's responsibility to enforce the broadcasting code, which commits it to upholding generally acceptable standards of behaviour, must be balanced against the right to free speech as enshrined in the convention.
Millar told the court that fundamental right could only be infringed when there is a pressing social need to do so.
He said that European law recognised that different standards apply to journalists carrying out their professional duties and to politicians who are being quizzed about policies they support or uphold. Journalists have a duty to disseminate
information to the public and the public have a right to hear it, he added.
Jon Gaunt labelled a guest on his TalkSport show a Nazi because it was his intention to offend , the high court was told today. David Anderson QC, who is acting for Ofcom, said Gaunt wanted the right to bully and insult a guest
on a radio. That is what he is saying he had a right to do .
Anderson said Gaunt's use of offensive language , including Nazi , health Nazi and ignorant pig was part of a bullying and hectoring approach which exceeded the expectations of the audience for his programme .
Anderson said: To call someone a Nazi is... slightly different to calling someone a health Nazi but in either case the intention was to offend .
The hearing has now ended and a ruling is expected by the end of next week.
Children in Plymouth could be banned from watching films in which characters are seen smoking, it has emerged.
An 18 certificate would be attached to any film release which features the unhealthy habit, in attempt to prevent it from appearing glamorous.
If the plan goes ahead, it would mean many children's classics showing to only adult audiences in the event of a one-off showing or re-release.
The plans to give an 18 certificate to films that depict smoking have been laid out in the city's Tobacco Control Strategy 2010 to 2020 - a joint scheme between the NHS and the council.
A similar proposal was made last year to Liverpool City Council, but it was thrown out for reasons of practicality shortly afterwards.
Russ Moody, manager of Plymouth NHS Stop Smoking Service, said: This is about shaping the culture that surrounds the use of tobacco. Once people understand why we are doing it, to protect young people and highlight the dangers associated with
smoking, on the whole, most people are compliant.
A spokesman for Plymouth City Council said the idea to enforce 18 certificates came from a forum called Smokefree Plymouth Alliance: More adults smoke in Plymouth than elsewhere in the country and the alliance is keen to look at any ideas that
will give people a longer and healthier life.
In a strange development, those responsible for decision-making in this area displayed some common sense. Hurrah for the council, who said the issue should be left to national classification systems and guideline.
The judicial review hearing of Ofcom's decision to uphold complaints against the radio talk show host Jon Gaunt has begun in the High Court. Liberty, the human rights group, has intervened in the case because of its wider importance to free
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: Too many people say – my speech is free but yours is more expensive. Love him or hate him, Jon Gaunt's case is a vital defence of everyone's political speech under Article 10 of
the Human Rights Act. None of us should take this freedom for granted.
Jon Gaunt said: British people have fought tooth and nail over the centuries since Magna Carta to defend and protect the right to free speech. Our forefathers fought the Nazis in the 20th century to protect such rights. It
would be painfully ironic if use of the word 'Nazi' were to defeat us when the real Nazis couldn't.
Martin Howe, Jon Gaunt's solicitor, said: A free press and media is an essential and fundamental ingredient of meaningful democracy. Broadcasters should be free to test our elected politicians on matters such as expenses,
front-line cuts, terror policies, the prosecution of wars etc. In Jon Gaunt's case he should be free to challenge a controversial childcare policy. Presenters in political debate should not be looking over their shoulder waiting for the Ofcom gag
to be slapped on. Tyranny triumphs when good men are silenced. Our democracy has more to fear from faceless bureaucrats thumbing their thesaurus than from the plain speaking polemic of Jon Gaunt.
Jon Gaunt was sacked from TALKsport on 19 November 2008, two weeks after he called a Redbridge Council representative a Nazi , a Health Nazi and an ignorant pig during an on-air discussion about the Council's ban on placing
vulnerable children with foster parents who smoke.
Jack of Kent writes about an appeal of the man prosecuted for sending a jokey twitter message about bombing Robin Hood Airport.
Paul Chambers has now lodged an appeal at Doncaster Crown Court. He will be appealing his (in my view) wrongful conviction under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 for sending an ill-conceived joke on Twitter.
The appeal will probably be heard in July or August.
If the Crown Court appeal is unsuccessful, then there can then be an appeal to the High Court, and so on until he is finally acquitted, or until he exhausts the entire appeal process.
The appeal will now be primarily undertaken by the awesomely formidable Stephen Ferguson, one of the United Kingdom's best and most sought-after defence and appellate barristers. Paul and his legal team will also have
support pro bono from myself and Andrew Sharpe in respect of the Communications Act 2003.
I think we can be optimistic for Paul's chances on appeal, but that sadly is not a certainty. There is still a lot of work to be done so that this injustice can be remedied.
Jessica Alba gets violently beaten in her new film The Killer Inside Me - but does that really make it one of the most controversial films ever made?
The film has seemingly split the critics between those who think it's a bold and dark piece of adult film making, and those who think it's a gruesome portrayal of misogyny.
British director Michael Winterbottom has defended his work to Sky News, insisting if he was going to adapt one of the most famous graphic pulp novels of the fifties, he would have to stay true to the original vision: Obviously this is a story
that involves some violence towards women and I can understand that is shocking. It should be shocking. If you made a film where there's a guy beating up a woman and it was enjoyable that would be wrong. The original novel was written by Jim
Most critics have picked up on two particular scenes in this remake, one of which features Jessica Alba's character getting battered by the murderous Lou Ford, played to chilling effect by Casey Affleck.
The BBFC passed it uncut as an 18 Certificate, saying the scenes in question do not eroticise or endorse sexual assault or pose a credible harm risk to viewers of 18 and over .
The director, though, hopes open-minded cinema fans will at least give it a chance. Every interview has been about the violence of the film which I understand because violence is shocking, he sighs: But at the same time it's a shame we
don't get to talk about the actors and the dialogue and the story. There are two violent scenes in the whole film and the rest of it is a portrayal of Lou Ford as a sort of interesting, complex and violent character. Unfortunately we never get
onto that part as we end up talking about the violence.
Street preacher Dale Mcalpine was held in a cell for seven hours and charged with a public order offence after telling a gay police community support officer that homosexuals were going against the will of God.
He said he would fight to have the charge - usually used to tackle rioters or football hooligans - dismissed.
Mcalpine was spouting nonsense to shoppers and handing out leaflets when he was allegedly warned he was committing an offence by PCSO Sam Adams - who introduced himself as his force's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender liaison officer.
When he continued preaching, Mcalpine was arrested while debating his views with a passer-by.
I think justice will be served and this will be found to be a ridiculous charge, he said. He told how he was speaking to a woman about behaviour that he believed the Bible regarded as sinful, including blasphemy, adultery, drunkenness and
homosexuality, while being watched by two PCSOs.
After she walked away, he claimed Adams approached to warn him they had received complaints and that if he made any racist or homophobic comments he would be arrested. I told him homosexuality is a sin, and he told me "I am a homosexual,
I find that offensive, and I'm also the liaison officer for the bisexual-lesbian-gay-transsexual community", he said yesterday. I told him it was still a sin.
While he talked to a passer-by the PCSO radioed for assistance and he was arrested by uniformed officers. He was taken to a police station, had his pockets emptied and his mobile phone taken along with his belt and shoes, and was kept in the
cells for seven hours where he sang hymns to keep his spirits up.
He was later charged with using abusive or insulting words or behaviour contrary to the Public Order Act 1986 and released on bail, appearing before magistrates in the town last week.
The self-proclaimed born-again Christian insists he has a right to express his views. It's not just my right I'm fighting for, it's everyone's ,' he said: We're going down the route of a police state. Some people in the homosexual
community may not like me after this. But it would be very intolerant of them to not allow me to have my say.
Yet more examples of the police abusing their incredibly wide powers under the Public Order law. This law grants draconian powers to deal with unruly situations. Somehow it is now being applied to normal peaceful life.
Interesting to see that the hidden video camera footage arrest has now been posted on YouTube and that the Crown Persecution Service have decided to drop the case.
Dale Mcalpine was arrested on 20 April after a conversation with a police community support officer in which Mcalpine said the Bible calls homosexual conduct a sin.
This week crown prosecutors decided to drop the case after reviewing the evidence.
Mcalpine was assisted by The Christian Institute. He says he is relieved that the prosecution has been dropped. He said: It was a ridiculous charge, I should never have been arrested. I'm relieved that they have seen sense. I'm a Christian
man, I forgive the police. But it is important this doesn't happen to someone else. We are now looking at the legal options that we have got, and we will take it from there.
Christian Institute spokesman Simon Calvert said the police must be held to account. He said: Cumbria police can't just walk away from this. They have arrested and charged an innocent man for no other reason than he peacefully expressed his
religious beliefs. And it has happened in other parts of the country too. So there is clearly a problem with the system and it has to be put right.
Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson, police commander for West Cumbria, said: Our officers and staff often have to make difficult decisions while balancing the law and people's rights. This is not easy especially when opinions and
interpretations differ. We would like to reassure the public that we respect, and are committed to upholding, the fundamental right to freedom of expression ...[BUT]... We are just as committed to maintaining the peace and preventing
people feeling alarmed or distressed by the actions of others in public places.
The Crown Prosecution Service has carefully assessed the evidence in the case and has decided to discontinue the prosecution of Mr Mcalpine.
The Christian preacher who told police homosexuality was a sin is planning to sue for wrongful arrest.
Dale Mcalpine was charged with a public order offence after speaking to a community support officer (PCSO) in Workington, Cumbria, in April.
The charge was later dropped by Cumbria Police, which claimed it respected freedom of expression.
Mcalpine said he would launch a civil action against the arresting officer and the chief constable.
He also intends to sue for false imprisonment and unlawful interference with his right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
Mcalpine denies making any mention of homosexuality in his sermon. He said: As a Christian man, I forgive the police for their actions... HOWEVER ...I also want to protect others who may face similar problems in the future. This can't
just be brushed under the carpet, freedom of speech is too precious for that.
The Christian Institute, which acts to defend religious liberty for Christians, is supporting Mcalpine and financing his legal action.
As already reported by The Register, Kent Police are in the process of using the Obscene Publications Act as a means to prosecute an individual, Gavin Smith, of Swanscombe for publishing obscenity in respect of a log of a private online chat he
had with another individual.
This case has now been given the green light to proceed.
Due to reporting restrictions,
theregister.co.uk are unable to give any further details of the alleged content of the conversation at this point in time.
The legal principle at stake here is whether internet chat constitutes publication in the ordinary sense of the word, or can be treated as private conversation. If the former is the conclusion, then anyone with even a passing interest in
more extreme fantasies (not just underage, but also BDSM, rape and other matters currently covered by the extreme porn laws) may need to be very careful in respect of any online conversations they have in future. IRC will no longer be quite the
refuge of the bizarre and the outlandish it once was.
Yesterday's hearing, before magistrates in Gravesend (the date was moved from May 6) resulted in the date of a committal hearing being agreed for 9 July. At that time, a judge may decide that the case has no legal merit. Otherwise, a date will
then be set for trial, and the seriousness of this matter will escalate another notch.
A political activist today failed in her libel action over a journalist's blog which referred to her Baader-Meinhof link.
In a ruling that gives bloggers some protection against libel actions, Mr Justice Eady rejected a claim by Johanna Kaschke, a Conservative, against David Osler, a Labour Party member, over an article that was written in April 2007. Kaschke
claimed that some of the comments linked her with terrorism.
Osler, a journalist and blogger, said that he only posted the material after seeing an article on Kaschke's own website and had never suggested that Kaschke was involved in bank robberies, violence or terrorism.
He accepted that, although she came under suspicion in the 1970s and was imprisoned for a time, she was not guilty of any criminal offence and was paid compensation in Germany for her wrongful arrest.
He said that he had given Kaschke a right of reply, which appeared on the blog in May 2007, and was prepared to join in a statement reaffirming his acceptance of her innocence.
Kaschke issued proceedings in April 2008, just over a year after the blog was originally published. Mr Justice Eady agreed with lawyers for Osler that the claim should be limited to a publication proved to have happened within the 12 months
leading up to the issue of proceedings.
The judge said that he was quite satisfied the posting did not link Kaschke to terrorism in the sense of suggesting in any way that she was directly linked with it or that she approved of the extremist activities. Osler, he added, was merely
choosing to highlight an unusual event in the history of someone who was at the material time active in politics in London.
Striking out the claim, he concluded that if a jury found in favour of Kaschke, the damages would be very modest and out of all proportion to the time and money spent on the cost of a two-week trial.
Robert Dougans, a media lawyer with Bryan Cave, said: This ruling is good news for the online media, as Mr Justice Eady was clear that 'stale' blog posts and articles available online but not actively linked to a site will not be deemed to
have been published without actual evidence that someone has read them.
He said that would provide some protection for bloggers and online media pending any legislation to tackle the problem of the internet and multiple publication giving rise to endless potential libel lawsuits. He said that the multiple
publication rule still existed and that meant that each time a blog posting was downloaded there was a separate cause of action, no matter when the posting was originally put online.
Online retailer Amazon is facing pressure to stop selling copies of a supposedly terrorist books downloaded by a teenage white supremacist whose racist father produced a chemical weapon.
Nicky Davison was sentenced to two years in a young offenders' institution after being convicted of charges relating to downloading copies of the Anarchist Cookbook and The Poor Man's James Bond .
His father, Ian Davison was jailed for 10 years at Newcastle Crown Court after he manufactured enough ricin to kill nine people and kept it in a jar in his kitchen for two years.
The court heard that copies of the Anarchist Cookbook , which Davison Snr also possessed, are still on sale on Amazon.
Judge John Milford QC said any documents stored by Amazon should be destroyed and taken off the website. Police later also called for their removal from the internet.
Speaking outside the court, Detective Superintendent Neil Malkin said: This is a landmark case and will bring the attention of the authorities at a national level to the need to restrict these documents.
The detective said just downloading the Anarchist Cookbook from the internet was an offence. Clearly, Amazon needs to look at what happened today in this case and reflect on the availability of these manuals .
Amazon said it would stop selling the books if it was found to be illegal but said it believed people had the right to choose their own reading material.
A man who placed a poster of David Cameron containing the word wanker in his window has described how police handcuffed him in his home on election day, threatened him with arrest, and forcibly removed what they said was offensive campaign
David Hoffman said a local inspector told him over the phone that any reasonable person would find his poster alarming, harassing or distressful .
The visit from police followed a complaint from a neighbour, who told Hoffman she found the poster offensive. The word wanker was printed beneath a photograph of a smiling Cameron.
Hoffman said four officers knocked on his door on polling day. When asked by them for identification, he said he tried to momentarily close the door. The officers then forced the door open, he said: They burst into my house, pushed me back and
handcuffed me. They said I had committed an offence under section 5 of the Public Order Act, I was being detained, and I might be arrested.
The poster, one of several images of party leaders produced by the veteran anarchist group Class War, was removed.
In a statement, the Metropolitan police denied officers forced their way into Hoffman's home and claimed he was restrained with handcuffs to prevent a breach of the peace after becoming agitated. It said that words of advice were given
to the resident … who removed the material .
Congratulations to Jane Fae, formally John Ozimek, for picking up the Best Writer trophy at the recent Erotic Awards ceremony.
Her nomination reads:
One of the most consistently authoritative, questioning and witty voices in the media covering sex and the law. Jane regularly writes in The Register. She has also written on issues of libertarian and sexual politics in
Index on Censorship, Skin 2, Scarlet and FHM amongst other places.
Here is somewhere very different. Its about the issues that take my fancy and, since I write a lot about sex and sexuality, its about my take on what is in the news today concerning those matters.
A bit political. A bit radical. I’ll be talking about the law and politics. Censorship. Prudery. And since i will be writing about the government’s response to all these things, I suspect there will be a load of hypocrisy
documented here, too.
Topics are likely to include sex and sexualities. The politics of identity. Orientation. Sex work. Disorderly conduct. Writing and Art. Kink. Sado-masochism, swinging and polyamory.
Caesar's Wife (in Bedfordshire)
The latest blog article examines a recent surge in police interest in prosecuting sex workers particularly with tempting returns available under proceeds of crime legislation. Jane writes:
Over the last few years, the police and authorities appear to have been clamping down. Representatives for the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) and the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) are adamant that this
follows on from a generally more intolerant, more puritan line from central government. However, it has been given an added twist in recent years by Proceeds of Crime legislation.
This embodies the outwardly admirable legal principle that crime should not pay – and that the state should be able to lay its paws on any monies that appear to have been earned from crime. Oh. And Police and CPS get to
divvy up around 50% of the proceeds between them.
Given that the amount targeted for Proceeds of Crime confiscation in 2009 was £250 million, that's a lot of Divvying!
Families who lost relatives in the 2005 London bomb attacks are appealing to cinemas not to show a British comedy about four aspiring suicide bombers.
Four Lions was created by satirist Chris Morris, who was also behind the controversial Channel 4 show Brass Eye. The film - on general release from Friday - focuses on four men travelling to London to target the marathon.
Grahame Russell, whose son was among the 52 killed on 7 July 2005, accused its makers of being morally bankrupt.
Graham Foulkes, who also lost his son in the bombings, said he and other relatives were appealing to cinemas not to show the British-funded film. He acknowledged that humour had a part when it came to examining serious issues but said for his
family, and others like them, the tragedy was still too raw.
Chris Morris has described the film as showing the Dad's Army side to terrorism , as four incompetent jihadists plan an attack. A film like this is obviously a very strong counterpoint to the very serious side of it, which none of us
In January when the film was premiered, Arsher Ali, who plays one of the would-be terrorists, told the BBC the film was first and foremost, a comedy: It's a dynamic of a bunch of guys who get together and mess everything up. Terrorism is in
the news almost every day, but there are little stories within those things that are inherently comic and inherently human. A film like this is obviously a very strong counterpoint to the very serious side of it, which none of us condone, but
there are human stories that need to be told, which can be quite touching.
It is great to see that Melon Farmers is a finalist for the Erotic Trade Only (ETO) Awards.
ETO is the major UK adult trade association, with representation from all of UK's adult retailers and distributors, both online and on the high street.
Voting is open now at
www.erotictradeonly.com , but is only open to those registered as belonging to the UK adult trade. The free monthly trade magazine is very good and it is well worthwhile registering for those connected with the trade.
The Melon Farmers are one of the finalists in the Best Online Resource category. The complete line up is:
The British Girls Adult Film Database is an invaluable resource for those looking for information on performers. It also has a thriving forum where girls, and studios, can promote themselves.
Formed seven years ago, Melon Farmers is a daily updated anti-censorship website which, by definition, regularly reports on adult industry issues such as cuts to R18 films and licensing.
The online home of gay and lesbian interest newspaper Pink Paper features relevant news and articles about travel, health, lifestyle information, food, drink, music, films, theatre and much more.
Set up by Alex Parker and Suzanne Hamilton, the people behind the successful AlexSuze.com blog, this site specialises in in-depth, and very candid, reviews of sex toys and adult products.
The Vibe (Sextoys.co.uk/sextoystv/)
The Vibe features a team of 'pleasure presenters' - all of whom were originally customers of the site - demonstrating and explaining the features of a wide range of adult products.
An unpublicised reading of the cancelled Sikh play proved excuses for its continued censorship have been demolished
Behzti , a play about sex abuse and murder in a Sikh temple, was cancelled in 2004 after the Sikh community stormed the theatre.
Last Friday, British theatre took a small step in the direction of free speech. At the Soho Theatre, in the heart of London's west end, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's Behzti was performed in the UK for the first time since it was controversially
cancelled in 2004.
Let us be clear: this was no great stride for freedom, more an anxious shuffle. The performance was a rehearsed reading, not a full production, and received no publicity whatsoever. It was completely absent from the theatre's website, and was
only advertised to those who had been to see Behud, Bhatti's most recent play. Buying a ticket felt a little like purchasing bootleg liquor from under the counter, and the atmosphere in the auditorium was, I imagine, how dissidents must have felt
in the 1640s, when religious puritans closed the theatres and drama was performed illegally. Proper free speech has to be more open than this.
A muslim protester who daubed a war memorial with graffiti glorifying Osama Bin Laden and proclaiming Islam will dominate the world got off lightly after prosecutors ruled his actions were not motivated by religion.
Tohseef Shah sprayed the words Islam will dominate the world – Osama is on his way and Kill Gordon Brown on the plinth of the memorial in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire.
Shah could have faced a tougher sentence if the court had accepted that the graffiti – which included a threat to kill the Prime Minister – were inspired by religious hatred.
But the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to charge him with that offence and he escaped with only a two-year conditional discharge and an order to pay the council £500 compensation after admitting causing criminal damage. It was decided
there was not enough evidence to prove this, and they decided it was politically motivated.
The CPS said Shah's offence could not be charged as a hate crime because the law requires that damage must target a particular religious or racial group: While it was appreciated that what was sprayed on the memorial may have been perceived by
some to be part of a racial or religious incident, no racial or religious group can be shown to have been targeted.
There is now a Facebook group demanding that Shah be jailed then deported to a more suitable country .
Kent Police have charged an individual with nine offences under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (OPA) in a case that could potentially see online chat in the UK subjected to a much stricter regulation regime.
A Kent Police spokeswoman confirmed to The Register it had brought the charges against the individual, and that these charges relate to online chat.
The individual is also charged with two offences of making indecent images of children and four of possessing indecent images of children. They have been bailed pending their next court appearance at Dartford magistrates on 6 May.
The implications of this case, if it proceeds, could be legal dynamite. At present, under the Obscene Publications Act, a publication is obscene if its overall effect is to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely ... to read, see or
hear it. For the purposes of the law, publication appears to involve distribution, circulation, selling or giving an article to a third party.
The idea that a conversation – albeit one embodied in text chat – can be considered to be published would be fairly radical.
Harry Taylor left home made posters at Liverpool John Lennon Airport three times in November and December 2008.
The self-styled philosopher was convicted in less than an hour by a unanimous jury.
Among the posters, one image showed a smiling crucified Christ next to an advert for a brand of no nails glue. In another, a cartoon depicted two Muslims holding a placard demanding equality with the caption: Not for women or gays,
obviously. Islamic suicide bombers at the gates of paradise were told in another: Stop, stop, we've run out of virgins. One image showed a pig excreting sausages with insults to Islam, and others linked Muslims to attacks on airports.
Unemployed Taylor, on medication for depression, said it was preposterous to suggest people could be incited to violence by cartoons.
It emerged that Taylor was previously convicted of similar offences. The previous December he was arrested handing out offensive leaflets in Waterstone's book store in Deansgate, Manchester. Police discovered he had also visited a nearby Tesco
and unplugged the Christmas music because he found it offensive.
Taylor had also visited two city centre churches, St Ann's Church and St Mary's, known as the Hidden Gem. Inside he left leaflets including a picture of a monk making a finger gesture with the caption Father Fucker .
Judge James told him: Not only have you shown no remorse for what you did but even now you continue to maintain that you have done nothing wrong and say that whenever you feel like it you intend to do the same thing again in the future.
He was sentenced to six months in jail suspended for two years, ordered to perform 100 hours' of unpaid work and pay £250 costs. He was also given an Anti-Social Behaviour Order banning him from carrying religiously offensive material in a
Are we sure that Mr Taylor was convicted of an offence under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act?
The reports suggest the offence was that of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress, which would be under Part 1 of the Public Order Act 1986.
4A Intentional harassment, alarm or distress
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he—
(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.
It is not necessary for there to be a racial or religious aspect to the offence, but if it is racially or religiously aggravated, it becomes triable in Crown Court and the maximum sentence is increased from 6 months or a fine to up to 7 years.
The Blair government added the racially aggravated aspect in 1998 and extended that to include the religiously aggravated offence in 2001, but the Public Order Act was introduced by the Thatcher government.
Back in 2004 Liverpool Council Trading Substandards took action against UK companies for selling R18 DVDs via mail order.
Interfact, associated with the Private Shops chain, were handed a substantial fine.
Interfact contended that they were operating from a licensed sex shop and challenged the prosecution right up to the House of Lords where they ultimately lost their case.
Now given that the 1984 Video Recordings Act wasn't actually in force, due to government oversight, then it is hardly surprising that Interfact would like to see some of their money back.
Interfact will now revisit the case in the High Court, Queen's Bench Division on the 6th May 2010. They have made an application for an appeal out of time in the case of Interfact vs Liverpool City Council.
A Saudi businessman who is being sued over a suspected multibillion-dollar fraud is invoking English libel law in what experts say is the latest high-profile example of libel tourism .
Maan al-Sanea is being sued by banks in New York, Dubai, London and the Cayman Islands over claims he is responsible for more than $15bn of bad debt in banks in Bahrain. But reports of allegations in papers around the world, including the Wall
Street Journal and the The National in Abu Dhabi, have resulted in threats of libel action by lawyers in London, the Guardian has learned.
Journalists covering the case, which could have damaging repercussions for Saudi Arabia's business reputation, have received letters from the law firm Harbottle & Lewis warning of a libel suit in the high court unless articles about Sanea are
The BCA have served a Notice of Discontinuance bringing to an end its ill-fated libel claim against Dr Simon Singh arising out of criticisms he made of its promotion of treatments for childhood ailments.
Dr Singh's predicament as the sole defendant in an action brought in respect of a comment piece in the Guardian newspaper, became a rallying point for those concerned about the abuse of UK libel laws in connection with scientific debate.
It still staggers me that the British Chiropractic Association and half the chiropractors in the UK were making unsubstantiated claims. It still baffles me that the BCA then dared to sue me for libel and put me through two
years of hell before I was vindicated. And it still makes me angry that our libel laws not only tolerate but also encourage such ludicrous libel suits. My victory does not mean that our libel laws are okay, because I won despite the libel laws.
We still have the most notoriously anti-free speech libel laws in the free world.
And other news, the Libel Reform Campaign
petition has just hit the 50,000 signature mark!
The people we write about seem to be swearing more and more. Our rivals opt for asterisks, but we tell you what they said. Are we right?
The statistics tell their own story: the word fuck (and its variants) has appeared 705 times in the past year, with a further 269 mentions in the Observer. The figures for other national newspapers are as follows: Independent 279,
Independent on Sunday 74, Times 3, Sunday Times 2, all other papers 0.
The figures for the C-word, still regarded by many people as taboo, are: Guardian 49, Observer 20, Independent 8, Independent on Sunday 5, everyone else 0.
Two questions: how do we justify using, as a Steve Bell cartoon memorably put it in the week the word appeared on the cover of G2, more fucks than you can shake a fucking stick at ? And do many people object?
All 3 major political parties in the UK are committed to libel law reform.
Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Justice Minister, told us on Friday that the Conservative party is committed, if elected, to undertaking a fundamental review of the libel laws with a view to enacting legislation to reform them. This reform could
best be done by means of a separate Libel Bill and this is the preferred approach for us.
The Lib Dems made libel law reform a policy in September 2009 after Professor Richard Dawkins addressed their party conference and Jack Straw committed Labour to reforming English libel law at our mass-lobby of Parliament on 23rd March.
The Labour manifesto, released today, pledges To encourage freedom of speech and access to information, we will bring forward new legislation on libel to protect the right of defendants to speak freely.
Dudley council worried that a performance of a new play that challenges white extremist thinking could jeopardise morale in their town, where the BNP has 10% of the vote.
The council became so worried, in fact, that it cancelled the play. Moonfleece by Philip Ridley, should have appeared at a theatre within its Dormston Sports & Arts Centre last Thursday.
Instead, the director of the centre wrote to the producer of Moonfleece , Will Young, saying: It has been brought to the theatre's attention that the play you are intending to show includes characters and themes of a political and
potentially discriminatory nature. In view of this, the theatre/centre's governors and senior staff have taken the decision that the play and the theatre/centre's association with the play are unsuitable.
Dudley council appears unwilling to elaborate on these objections to the touring play which, though its story is too complex to rehearse here, has appeared without incident in Doncaster, Bradford and Leicester.
Will Young says his company, which is now bringing the play to London, chose venues where its issues of race and homophobia were likely to resonate with audiences. At least in Dudley, where the English Defence League was free to march, he has
been taken seriously.
The council's belief that Moonfleece was too dangerous to be seen is so completely nonsensical that it seems, at first, overdramatic to relate this misguided ban to a wider, increasingly sinister willingness to suppress anything that might cause
trouble. Yet it is hard to believe Dudley's worthies would have gone so readily for censorship had it not been for a climate in which new legislation on hate speech, supported by a host of amateur censors and protesters, constantly reminds
everyone that free expression is tempered by a sacred duty not to offend other people.
That there appear to have been no local complaints in anticipation of Moonfleece , which transgressed no hate speech laws, only makes the Dudley case more abject.
Moonfleece is an intense and thrilling exploration of memory and identity, with themes of contemporary resonance: racism, homophobia, and how those in authority distort both the truth and the past.
This play is Philip Ridley's most direct representation yet of his hopes and fears for disadvantaged, diverse communities across the UK, as two groups of teenagers are forced to judge for themselves the prejudices and
preconceptions of their parents.
This is a vital, relevant and compelling story for the whole country and especially young people from all backgrounds in the UK.
Why did the Dormston Arts and Sports Centre, Dudley, cancel a booking it had made for a performance of Philip Ridley's play Moonfleece in its 350-seat theatre, and why does it matter?
The first question is answered inadequately by one person and alarmingly by another. The headteacher of the school of which the centre is a part, Stephanie Sherwood, said: Some of the issues raised within the play may not have been suitable
for a community school setting. The manager of the centre, Neil Eveson, told the play's producer: The play and the theatre/centre's association with the play are unsuitable , on the grounds that the play includes characters and
themes of a political and potentially discriminatory nature .
Unpicking the evasive local gov-speak, Eveson's statement gets more disturbing the closer you read it. The protagonist of the play is Curtis, a teenage supporter of a far-right party, whose leader (and Curtis's stepfather) effectively banished
the teenager's elder brother from the country on the grounds that having a gay stepson might threaten his political career. Thus, the communities potentially discriminated against by the play might either be the proponents of racism and
homophobia, or their victims.
Last year, the producers of British documentary Starsuckers planted fake stories about celebrities into numerous tabloids: fables that told how Amy Winehouse's hair had caught fire, for example; and that Guy Ritchie had injured himself
Getting these silly, spurious stories into print garnered the film some attention in the press, but there is another side to the Starsuckers documentary that seems to have been roundly ignored by the nation's news journalists.
The week before Starsuckers , by Bafta-nominated Taking Liberties director Chris Atkins, was released it received numerous legal letters with some strong demands.
We knew that working with Chris Atkins on Starsuckers was going to be a legal headache, but we didn't quite expect all out war, says the film's lawyer, Simon Goldberg, of Simons, Muirhead and Burton.
The legal threats were also largely unreported by the media.
The UK Independence Party has shamed itself with a bad attitude towards an erotic film maker. Compare that with the Lib Dems who embraced porn film maker Anna Span as one of their general election candidtes.
Rob Ager was chairman of UKIP's Liverpool branch until party chiefs found out about his films, which include scenes of bondage, incarceration and flagellation.
One of Ager's films, called The Sex Game , features a half-naked man being whipped and abused by a dominatrix . However it is hardly porn, and is even
hosted on the nudity averse
Another, called The Victim , features what Ager describes as a duo of deranged sadists who capture a man at random so that he can be tortured and eventually killed .
Until he was warned off doing so by party officials, some of his films also contained plugs for Ukip in the closing credits.
A spokesman for Ukip said Ager had been suspended while party officials examined the films, which she said contained serious themes . She said: As a result of the evidence that has been supplied to us about Mr Ager, he has today been
suspended as the chair of the Ukip Liverpool branch. There will be a thorough inquiry into the matter.
Ager confirmed he had been asked to step down but defended his films, saying many commercial productions were much more sexually and violently explicit . He said: My material is pretty tame. I put a lot of intelligent material into the
A curiosity shop owner and councillor has had his stone willy seized by police after complaints it was supposedly obscene.
Jason Hadlow, chairman of Yarm Town Council and owner of the
Simply Dutch store in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, was left gobsmacked at the confiscation.
Now he faces an £80 fine to get his 4ft high masonry manhood back - something he has refused to do. Hadlow has instead ordered 150 more of the garden ornaments from Indonesia, 10 of which have already been sold.
It's absolute madness they've taken this willy - it was right there in the shop window next to a statue of Venus and a replica of Michelangelo's David, said the entrepreneur, who lives in Yarm. They involve boobs and willies - and there
was a sign nearby saying Big Dick's Sausages and they didn't take that.
Hadlow was given 24 hours to remove the stone penis. When officers returned and he hadn't complied, it was put into a police van and Hadlow ordered to pay an £80 fine to release it or face court action. He added: The policewoman said it
was 4ft tall. It's not that high, but people do often overestimate when it comes to willy size.
Hadlow has 21 days to pay the fine - but is hoping a Facebook group he set up called Free Willy will persuade the police to drop the charges - at the time the Evening Gazette went to print today he had 269 supporters online.
A spokesman for the North Yorkshire Police dicks said: The owner of Simply Dutch was visited on March 31 following a complaint from a member of the public. He was given the opportunity to remove the offending item within 24 hours. Officers
returned the next day and issued him with a penalty notice for disorder for committing a public order offence after his decision to leave the item on view.
The science writer Simon Singh has won the right to use the defence of fair comment, in a landmark ruling at the Court of Appeal.
The strongly worded judgment by three of Britain's most senior judges brings Dr Singh significantly closer to defeating the action brought against him by a group of chiropractors. The ruling also sets a precedent that could, in practice, make
scientific criticism and debate exempt from claims of defamation by companies or organisations.
Dr Singh was accused of libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over an opinion piece he wrote for The Guardian in April 2008, suggesting that there was a lack of evidence for the claims some chiropractors make on treating certain
childhood conditions, including colic and asthma. The BCA alleged that Dr Singh had, in effect, accused its leaders of knowingly supporting bogus treatments.
In May last year, Mr Justice Eady, in a preliminary High Court ruling in the dispute, held that Dr Singh's comments were factual assertions rather than expressions of opinion, which meant that he could not use the defence of fair comment.
However, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls, and Lord Justice Sedley ruled that Mr Justice Eady had erred in his approach last May and upheld Dr Singh's appeal. Dr Singh described the ruling as brilliant
, but said the action had cost £200,000 and two years of his time just to define the meaning of a few words . He added: At last we've got a good decision. So instead of battling uphill we're fighting with the wind behind us.
The written judgment said that the original decision threatened to silence scientists or science journalists wishing to question claims made by companies or organisations. It said: This litigation has almost certainly had a chilling effect on
public debate which might otherwise have assisted potential patients to make informed choices about the possible use of chiropractic. Asking judges to rule on matters of scientific controversy would be to invite the court to become an
Orwellian ministry of truth , the judgment said.
In a statement issued after the ruling, the BCA expressed disappointment and said it was considering whether to appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. This is not the end of the road ... Our original argument remains that our
reputation has been damaged, it said. The BCA can now either appeal to the Supreme Court, proceed to trial and challenge Dr Singh's defence of fair comment, or withdraw its case. A BCA spokesman said that board members would decide in the