Guidelines issued today on when criminal charges should be brought against people posting offensive or abusive comments on social media sites could boost free speech (more…)
The Director of Public Prosecutions has announced a consultation to establish clear guidelines on prosecutions involving social media . In a statement on The Crown Prosecution Service website announcing that footballer Daniel Thomas — investigated for allegedly homophobic tweets about Olympic divers Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield — will not be prosecuted, Keir Starmer QC said:
“To ensure that CPS decision-making in these difficult cases is clear and consistent, I intend to issue guidelines on social media cases for prosecutors. These will assist them in deciding whether criminal charges should be brought in the cases that arise for their consideration. In the first instance, the CPS will draft interim guidelines. There will then be a wide public consultation before final guidelines are published. As part of that process, I intend to hold a series of roundtable meetings with campaigners, media lawyers, academics, social media experts and law enforcement bodies to ensure that the guidelines are as fully informed as possible.”
Starmer and the CPS faced severe criticism for the handling of Paul Chambers’s “Twitter joke trial“. Chambers, who was found guilty of sending a “menacing communication” after he joked about blowing up Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster, had his conviction overturned in July of this year.
It emerged today that a man has been arrested under the Communications Act 2003 for allegedly setting up a Facebook page praising Dale Cregan, the Manchester man accused of killing two police officers.
The teenager accused of making “grossly offensive” comments about the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan has denied charges against him. Azhar Ahmed, of West Yorkshire, appeared before Dewsbury Magistrates’ Court today. Ahmed is charged under the Communications Act 2003 after allegedly posting a message on Facebook earlier this month commenting on the relative coverage of British soldiers killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan and the deaths of Afghan civilians. The teen also faced a racially-aggravated public order charge, but this was withdrawn before the court today. Ahmed will will stand trial at Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court on 3 July.