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The Right to Abuse and Offend - Case Law


Radman

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Radman

It's a bit of a dry subject but could have an impact on operational policing. A high court ruling just before christmas involving a Twitter Trolling case has concluded and quashed a conviction under the Communications Act 2003.

The Judge stated in the report:

"The prosecution argument failed entirely to acknowledge the well-established proposition that free speech encompasses the right to 
offend, and indeed to abuse another."

Effectively case law now exists which clarifies a right to offend in law, this may well have wide-ranging implications on justice and policing including the original communications Act.

Scottow -v- CPS judgment - Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

 

 

 

Scottow-v-CPS-judgment-161220 (2).pdf

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Sceptre

Hopefully a turn in the tide against completely trivial two-way arguments being treated as harassment. There's some other useful cases referenced in that judgement too.

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Reasonable Man
On 28/12/2020 at 19:31, Radman said:

It's a bit of a dry subject but could have an impact on operational policing. A high court ruling just before christmas involving a Twitter Trolling case has concluded and quashed a conviction under the Communications Act 2003.

The Judge stated in the report:

"The prosecution argument failed entirely to acknowledge the well-established proposition that free speech encompasses the right to 
offend, and indeed to abuse another."

Effectively case law now exists which clarifies a right to offend in law, this may well have wide-ranging implications on justice and policing including the original communications Act.

Scottow -v- CPS judgment - Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

 

 

 

Scottow-v-CPS-judgment-161220 (2).pdf 638.31 kB · 18 downloads

Can’t see it changes much. As said in the judgement, each case is different and must be treated on its merits. 

Also you can’t say that case law now exists (this case) which clarifies a right to offend in law changes anything when such right to offend is a ‘well established proposition’.  

I hope officers don’t start saying there cannot be any offensive tweets because of the Scottow case, especially as this is specifically about the non-notifiable Comms Act offences - the lowest level of these type of offences. 

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Radman
17 minutes ago, Reasonable Man said:

Can’t see it changes much. As said in the judgement, each case is different and must be treated on its merits. 

With an acknowledgement that the state takes into consideration:

"The prosecution argument failed entirely to acknowledge the well-established proposition that free speech encompasses the right to 
offend, and indeed to abuse another."

Correct me if I'm wrong here but that direction also applies to other potential criminal matters. 

17 minutes ago, Reasonable Man said:

Also you can’t say that case law now exists (this case) which clarifies a right to offend in law changes anything when such right to offend is a ‘well established proposition’.  

It has clarified that right. 

Also that right is something the CPS failed to consider and to be perfectly honest same can be said for alot of officers and EROs, I've seen cases prosecuted where if this direction was applied the prosecution wouldn't have gone ahead at all. For me atleast this is the first instance I have come across where that clarification or judgement has been not only written down but actually directed towards the prosecution. 

17 minutes ago, Reasonable Man said:

I hope officers don’t start saying there cannot be any offensive tweets because of the Scottow case, especially as this is specifically about the non-notifiable Comms Act offences - the lowest level of these type of offences. 

That isn't what the judgement has said, I would argue something grossly offensive or something that constitutes harassment should of course be prosecuted and pursued in the courts but this perhaps now adds more weight to fight off more groundless twitter/social media feuds. 

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Reasonable Man

I don’t intend to get into semantics as, I believe, we are in broad agreement but, yes, that does apply more broadly and always has and I don’t see this as clarification of that, just the use of an established principle referred to by the judge. 

As for other cases you have seen where people have been prosecuted that you don’t agree with - they were prosecuted, so guilty in law, so nothing wrong. If there was an incorrect application of the law then why were they not appealed and found not guilty?

As with most things these pendulums swing too far each way. I have seen cases recorded as crimes that never reached the threshold - not ‘grossly’ offensive, more than one occasion but not making a course of conduct because of different issues, a debate where person disagreed with the others position. But I have seen many more where the criminal threshold is, prima facie, made out but officers say it’s not a crime because ‘it wouldn’t upset me.’ ‘the other person replied and so continued the argument.’ ‘it’s just kids falling out.’ ‘It’s the first time it’s been reported’ (when there’s been months or years of quite horrible abuse) Etc. 

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