EDL member arrested after threats


by Newswire    
10:40 am - April 23rd 2012

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An English Defence League member was arrested on Saturday night for racially inflammatory material posted on to Facebook.

In posts highlighted by EDL News, he allegedly threatened Muslims with an Oslo-style bomb attack.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “A 29 year old man was arrested on Saturday night on suspicion of assault and possessing racially inflammatory material. He is currently in custody and is helping police with their enquiries.”

EDL News say:

There is plenty of evidence out there that [Norwegian terrorist] Breivik was partly inspired by the English Defence League, in fact before he went on his murderous campaign, he emailed his manifesto to a large number of EDL members who he had been in contact with.

Leadership claim time and time again that their far right organisation does not breed extremism. South Shield’s Division member, Kenny Holden, seems to prove the opposite when he states his intention to set a pipe bomb off in Ocean Road, a predominantly Asian area in the City.

Last week five men were arrested by anti-terrorism police for inciting racial hatred online – all linked to North West Infidels, a splinter group with links to the English Defence League.

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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

Since when is “possessing racially inflammatory material” illegal? Are we going to arrest anyone with a copy of Mein Kampf?

In any case, he’s been arrested on suspicion of *assault*, which makes the possible implications for freedom of speech a hypothetical sideline until he’s charged with a relevant offence.

2. margin4error

Yeah – I like that the free speech aspect is somewhat negated by the actual violence in this instance.

Not sure that possessing Hitler’s best seller would be quite the sort of thing the police are referring to though. More likely leaflets the promote violent abuse of muslims.

@1 Well, as his friend did try and warn him, people are being arrested and jailed for less for what they’ve written on Facebook and twitter.

That of course has nowt to do with whether or not it is right to do so. But it is where we are today. Even writing an inflammatory inciting blog appears to be safer than posting stuff to your Facebook wall at the minute.

4. Chaise Guevara

@ 2 M4E

Well, I’m reacting to the policeman’s phrasing, which would cover almost anything. But if he’s referring to a real law, not making it up, it’s profoundly creepy. I worry enough over laws banning the distribution of offensive political opinions. But possession? That’s basically thoughtcrime.

@3 Cylux

Agreed.

By the way, how is it that you two replied to my comment before it appeared on the site? Are you accessing LC through the smartphone portal? (And, if so, how the hell did you get comments to work?) Or is this just some weird technical thing where different people see the site update at different times?

5. margin4error

chaise

I agree – anything short of actively going out to encourage violence should be legal. Thought and opinion, however stupid, should be legal and free.

And we don’t know what material is being referred to – so it is a bit creepy. But as I understand the law, there is no banned material as such in the UK (no list of books not allowed) – just a law that allows action to be taken where certain materials are part of an effort to generate hatred and violence. So more likely lots of leaflets than a book from the 1930s.

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 5 M4E

Oh, I agree that in practice the leaflets would get you arrested and the book wouldn’t.

What about libel/slander, and possibly disinformation? I.E. where the problem isn’t that someone is expressing an unwelcome opinion, it’s that someone is lying in a way that could harm others.

Its been illegal since the US told this subservient country that any islamic material which promoted anythign but tolerance was illegal, just be happy the authorities have not bound gagged and tortured them and their families for beign extremists unlike thousands of non combatant iraqi/afghan/pakistani civilians. so before going on abotu free speech think about those muslims in british jails for protesting against the illegal wars we have entered into!

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 7 Danny

“so before going on abotu free speech think about those muslims in british jails for protesting against the illegal wars we have entered into!”

Uh, if you don’t care about free speech, presumably you’re all for protesters being locked up. Your argument seems to come down to “free speech failed in one area, so let’s drag everyone down to that level”.

9. margin4error

Chaise

In those situations it is surely a civil matter between the writer and the defamed? Though don’t forget, the truth can also be defamatory and so can land you in court.

10. Chaise Guevara

@ 9 M4E

“In those situations it is surely a civil matter between the writer and the defamed? ”

Doesn’t matter: if you can be charged for stating something, then you don’t have freedom of speech to say it.

“Though don’t forget, the truth can also be defamatory and so can land you in court.”

Miscarriage of justice, surely?

11. Planeshift

People do need to be aware that what you say online is covered by the same laws as if you said it in any other public place. We can debate the merits of those laws (and lets be blunt – if this was a muslim in britain saying the equivelant very few people – chaise excepted – would have a problem with said muslim being arrested) but they do exist and cover social media.

Similarly, police are investigating twitter users for naming the victim of rape following Ched Evans conviction – the law being that you cannot publish the name of the victim.

This sort of thing will happen more and more.

12. Chaise Guevara

@ 11 Planeshift

To be fair, I’m not sure about this one. The lines quoted up top *could* be interpreted as a threat, but personally I’m calling it as rhetorical. Annoyingly the OP says he was accused of making a bomb threat and then doesn’t quote it, so I’ve no way of knowing how fair the accusation is.

Given the very low threshold of probability that an offence was planned by Paul Chambers when he threatened to “…blow up Robin Hood Airport” I wonder whether any significant material apart from what we’ve seen exists?

The police seem to have a problem with free speech on the interwebs and want to control it as much as possible. They have over-reacted a number of times recently, after all.

Just like the old ruse of hassling people for taking pictures in public, this has sinister implications. I suspect they have overstepped the mark again.

14. margin4error

Chaise

Not a miscarriage at all – That a man is gay can be both true but also defamatory if published. It can serve to lower his standing in the eyse of his peers (defamatory), while serving no public value to expose that it happened (without justification).

Of course that might depend on who his peers are.

So yes, while this is a restriction on free publication, it is probably one we can all live with and not automatically a miscarriage of justice.

There have been such cases rightly taken through the courts.

15. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 M4E

Oh, ok. I was thinking more of the Robert Maxwell kind of thing. Sure, I can see where something like that might be legitimately bannable due to respect for privacy and so on.

16. Chaise Guevara

@ 13 Cherub

I was thinking of that too. Or indeed that posting a joke about having a riot while drunk, deleting it the next morning and apologising is apparently an equal offense to actually trying to incite a riot and turning up to join in.

You’ll have heard this before, but I think part of the problem is that laws like this just aren’t built to deal with a medium where amateurs can make casual communications that are a matter of record and available to the entire internet-using world. If he’d made comments like this down the pub it’s extremely unlikely he would have been arrested – perhaps he’d have just been kicked out. Twitter and social networking massively blur the line between personal chat and public announcement.

And it’s becoming obvious that there is a certain type of person who’ll pass comments on to the police out of spite, which in debatorial terms is about as reasonable as punching someone in the jaw.

Without trying to come across as a grammar snob, I think that the meaning of the post is clouded by the poor quality of the writing. The offending line is helpfully written in capitals. The first part “Give me a gun” I would interpret as rhetorical as well as dickish whereas the second part “Town near you” could be the incitement bit.

Could he be trying to say “Get a gun to stop Muslims taking over a town near you” or does he mean “Get me a gun to stop Muslims taking over my town”? I’d interpret the first as inflammatory and the second as rhetorical.

Given that he apparently threatened to set off a pipe bomb and the context of his social network posts he certainly should be arrested since there seems to be a chance he’d do it. I doubt that East Midlands airport man made lots of angry posts to give an impression he was serious.

It’s tough for the police. They are effectively policing an entirely new area where the rules are slightly different and they don’t quite know how to act. Someone somewhere needs to draw up the new boundaries. Lets hope they don’t get it badly wrong.

18. Chaise Guevara

@ Chris

I’d put a full stop after “c*nts”. I think he rhetorically asks for a gun to stop them, then says (they’ve) taken over a town near you.

Or possibly forgot that “inbred c*nts” was the end of his previous remark and used it as the start of his next comment. He’s obviously deeply stupid and illiterate.

19. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

The police seem to have a problem with free speech on the interwebs and want to control it as much as possible. They have over-reacted a number of times recently, after all.

It’s all very nice saying “the police this, the state that” – the plebs are the ones who demanded people be locked up for saying ‘bad things on the internet’ after the riots and now here we are.

Of course they won’t take any kind of responsibility, it’ll all be the Guardian’s fault because Stalin.

20. Planeshift

“but personally I’m calling it as rhetorical”

I’m inclined to agree, although had Anders Breivik made similar threats his friends would have felt similarly. As noted, the law came down on Paul Chambers when the rhetorical intent would have been understood by everyone – so clearly the law isn’t making the distinction.There are many Muslims rotting in jail cells for making similar rhetorical comments, and one thing I really dislike is the inconsistent application of the law. If EDL supporters get away with it and Paul Chambers doesn’t – that to me is double standards.

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 20 Planeshift

“I’m inclined to agree, although had Anders Breivik made similar threats his friends would have felt similarly.”

There’s been more than one case of someone making a jokey-sounding threat that wasn’t taken seriously, then acting on it. I recently read a story about someone texting his mate to say he was going to kill his ex, to which the mate replied something like “If you do, I’ll buy you breakfast!” Obviously he thought it was a joke, which it wasn’t. Of course the media spun this as Murdered For A Free Breakfast. I seriously hope the mate didn’t get charged with anything.

HOWEVER, how many times has someone made a joke like that and not carried it out? Likewise, how often has someone had a bad dream about a plane flight, cancelled their tickets at the last minute, yet the plane didn’t crash?

“As noted, the law came down on Paul Chambers when the rhetorical intent would have been understood by everyone – so clearly the law isn’t making the distinction.”

Yeah, there’s no arguing otherwise in that case.

“There are many Muslims rotting in jail cells for making similar rhetorical comments, and one thing I really dislike is the inconsistent application of the law. If EDL supporters get away with it and Paul Chambers doesn’t – that to me is double standards.”

Agreed, but do you concur that the solution here is to stop arresting anyone for making silly jokes, rather than locking up some EDL guys to balance out the injustice?

I propose that all those charged with racially aggravated offences are given a DNA test, and the racial orgins of their bloodlines are exposed for public view. Imagine what little credibility Norman “Cricket Test” Tebbit has when you learn he is a second generation Belgian immigrant.

23. Margin4error

Chaise

things now get termed as respect for privacy in a way they didn’t before – and I’d like to think anything Maxwell-esque would have a public-interest justification. Most truths can be justified by public interest.

24. Planeshift

” but do you concur that the solution here is to stop arresting anyone for making silly jokes”

Of course.

I don’t have a problem with police/security services monitoring EDL/far right types, as there have been more than enough of them who have gone on to comit crimes and plot terrorist attacks. But I think where casual online statements can be combined with further evidence of intent – visiting bomb making websites, ordering chemicals/fertilizer online, discussing actual targets with co-plotters etc, then arrest and charge is justified and those statements made on twitter etc could be used as evidence.

That applies to all groups. It means police don’t arrest Kenny Holden as yet, but equally that muslim lad who stated on facebook he wanted to kill british troops should also go free. I’m not sure how many of the ‘PC gone made/we don’t have free speech anymore’ brigade would want the latter.

“it. I recently read a story about someone texting his mate to say he was going to kill his ex, to which the mate replied something like “If you do, I’ll buy you breakfast!” Obviously he thought it was a joke”

That case was from my neck of the woods. The person that did it had been saying he was going to do it for a while, and eventually his mates got bored and started saying things like ‘your trouble is you never carry anything out’. They didn’t get charged with anything, but I suspect they’ll live with the guilt for a long time.

putting anti muslim commetns isn’t racism it’s religous hatred, but for the record anyone can join the EDl and say what tehy like on facebook, it’s not the EDL’s fault

Chris @17:

You say: “It’s tough for the police. They are effectively policing an entirely new area where the rules are slightly different and they don’t quite know how to act. Someone somewhere needs to draw up the new boundaries. Lets hope they don’t get it badly wrong.”

I sympathise with the sentiment, but I don’t think it’s that tough for the police. Their job in possible hate crime cases such as this is, as the Northumbria officer above, said, to “arrest on suspicion” people they think may have committed such an offence. The charging decision lies with the CPS (this is set out expressly in sec 19 of the CPS Director’s Guidance on Charging http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/directors_guidance/dpp_guidance_4.html#a19 which sets out what the police charge and what the CPS charges.

In this case I’d suggest they had little alternative.

The CPS’s job is then to go through a “full code test” to decide whether to prosecute, and the key element in this (after the evidence stage) is the public interest test.

It seems to me (and I think to others on this blog) that the CPS has got the balance wrong on this in recent cases (not just re: hate crime, but also re: the Communications Act under which the Muamba-mouther-offer was convicted). The good news is that they do seem to be conscious of this, as evidenced by a fairly measured speech the other week by the CPS’s chief prosecutor for sports-related crime. He suggested that while the CPS should certainly prosecute when necessary, there might be a more “educational” response in some circumstances:

“We are now seeing the phenomena of fans abusing players on Twitter and other social media. Harassment through social media is covered by existing legislation, such as the Misuse of Communications Act, and we have already seen successful prosecutions in this area. Where the abuse is racist, we can bring that to the attention of the court as an aggravating feature.

Again, this is an area where I would suggest education, both of what not to do and of how easy it is to detect and prosecute these offences, might prevent the criminalisation of otherwise decent people, but I should stress I would never condone the misuse of social media to commit what would be a hate crime if said face- to- face.”

Clearly, he’s only speaking for his own (sports) area in that speech, but I suspect it’s part of a wider debate with his senior colleagues about how to deal with social media “crimes”.

In summary, I’m not so sure that the actual law (though I do think the Comms Act is pretty stupid), or policing, is the right place, for those concerned about recent development, to seek to apply pressure. The CPS hs never prosecuted everything they could tecnically have prosecuted, because it’s had the public interest test to guide it on whether it’s sensible to do so.

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 24 Planeshift

I don’t think the mere fact that someone is an EDL member is reason enough to monitor them. That seems a lot like tarring with the same brush – especially as EDL-related crimes are usually signposted in advance (i.e. occur at previously arranged riots-oh-sorry-I-mean-protests, which the police are going to be at anyway). It’s not a terrorist group.

29. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 Cylux

I still don’t think this adds up to a scary group that justifies the use of Big Brother tactics. Please note that the main event in the story you linked to doesn’t mention any criminal behaviour.

30. Planeshift

“I don’t think the mere fact that someone is an EDL member is reason enough to monitor them”

I think there have been enough acts of violence, plots to blow things up and kill them, from the what we might call ‘white supremicist/anti-islam’ ideology to justify lose surveillance. Whilst EDL and the BNP as organisations are not terrorist organisations, there have been enough of their members and supporters who have gone beyond their electoral/street protest strategy and acted as lone gunmen/small cell terrorists, or ended up committing lower level acts of crime motivated by their ideology. Its largely due to their own incompetence that most of them have not successfully carried out large scale bombings or massacres, but enough of them have reached the ‘stockpiling and building bombs’ stage for it to be a genuine threat that justifies wider surveillance of the movement if you like.

Think of animal rights extremism – over 99% of the people invovled in that movement are peaceful and condemn the violence, but there have been enough animal rights extremists involved in serious crime like arson to justify the movement being put under serviellance.

31. Chaise Guevara

@ 30 Planeshift

What kind of surveillance are we talking about here?

32. Planeshift

Bugger – WP just ate a lengthy comment answering your question in more detail than I can be bothered to re-type.

In short I’m in favour of the security services having:

(a) An understanding of the movement, so they are able to identify militant groups, individuals and networks within the movement and understand what activity is occuring.

(b) That people who draw attention themselves by posting threatening comments online, or who participate in the more militant activities outlined above should be investigated to determine the level of seriousness. This investigation could include looking at bank statements to identify unusual purchases, use of ISP data to see if they’ve been looking at bomb making sites etc. Note this is far less of a violation than arresting somebody and keeping them in custody. Only if evidence of criminal activity/plots to undertake criminal activity is unconvered should arrests follow. I’d imagine the security services are able to quite quickly establish who the bullshitters are, and who are the actual threats.

33. Chaise Guevara

@ 32 Planeshift

Fine with me, but I want there to be a requirement for a warrant to initiate (2), as we currently have but soon might not.

I’m not sure what the point the OP is making. Is it that it’s good that this idiot was arrested for stuff he wrote on Facebook? Fair enough I suppose, it was pretty explicit, and you’re never going to win ”free speech” arguments with people over that. The guy is obviously a complete dick – and who knows, may have an extremely low IQ. Some of the worst of that kind have. You have to be pretty stupid to not know now that the police arrest people for such things.

BUT ….. the anti-EDL, ”anti-fascist” crap is almost as bad IMO. It’s tedious and tiresome – and a poor excuse for real anti-racism I think.

You only have to look at this EDL type march in Brighton on Sunday, by some people calling themselves March For England.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8MaEjxUR_Q

WHY is there such a big police operation and ”anti-fascist” opposition? They look pretty harmless and are really just members of one sub-section of the white working class. It’s as much a cultural divide than a political one I think. Those people could be football fans from the Brighton area. A certain kind of person who is pretty loathed I think by the Unite Against Fascism – Socialist Worker type people who came out to oppose them. Who look like knob-heads (I think) in this other youtube, where you see some of them in their black hoodies and covered faces trying to block the road and getting into shoving matches with the police.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcJlrhcQQuM&feature=related

This is the unacceptable face of the left I find. They can’t even allow a ”bunch of blokes from the pub” to have a march giving it a bit of ”Ingerlund Ingerlund Ingerlund” on St George’s day without denouncing them as fascists.

Their real crime here is that they are a bunch of white blokes who can’t stand that UAF studenty kind of leftism – and will openly challenge them and tell them what they think.
That’s enough to have you branded as a ”fascist” for those anti-fascist types.

I still don’t think this adds up to a scary group that justifies the use of Big Brother tactics. Please note that the main event in the story you linked to doesn’t mention any criminal behaviour.

To be honest I was mainly disputing that the criminal activities of EDL membership was usually signposted in advance.
As far as this case is concerned I don’t think the police can really be accused of ‘big brother’ type surveillance, because as DOTW reminds us @19, when it comes to watching twitter and facebook, the police get their job done for them by the internet equivalent of net-curtain twitchers. From what I can gather the rozzers spring into action when a large enough number of outraged peeps demand that someone be banged up for saying nasty things, and figure out what the charge will be later. Given the vagueness of legislation in the area, they’ll easily find something to stick.
It’s all a bit ‘by the people, for the people’, to be honest.

36. Chaise Guevara

@ 35 Cylux

Oh, I’m not accusing the police for being all Orwellian just for checking Twitter feeds that they have been referred to, aka examining the evidence. I was thinking more in terms of the sort of surviellance that the government want to make legal without a warrant (logging calls and emails, going through internet lookups etc).

I don’t know if this is a stupid question, but does anyone know what NFS or NFSE mean in this context?

From my research, NFS means ‘no fucking surrender’ and NFSE means ‘no fucking surrender ever’.

39. rob the crip

I cannot be bothered with the EDL or the BNP, but the right to speak one’s mind the freedom has been with us for many many years, but now of course we have a changed society. This idiot who says give him a gun has a brain the size of an ant but dam if it’s wrong for him to be arrested for being an idiot.

But the fact is I have not see to many EDL blow up trains or Buses, so you know something people marching with signs and placards saying death to all infidels with a police guard, and never being arrested seems we have two laws one them them one for the rest


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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    English Defence League member arrested after threats of 'Oslo-style' attacks on Muslims http://t.co/GYsiiYBU on Facebook

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    English Defence League member arrested after threats of 'Oslo-style' attacks on Muslims http://t.co/GYsiiYBU on Facebook

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    English Defence League member arrested after threats of 'Oslo-style' attacks on Muslims http://t.co/GYsiiYBU on Facebook

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    EDL member arrested after Muslim bomb threat http://t.co/7qsiJt8q

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    EDL member arrested after Muslim bomb threat http://t.co/7qsiJt8q

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    English Defence League member arrested after threats of 'Oslo-style' attacks on Muslims http://t.co/GYsiiYBU on Facebook

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    If anyone doubted why the March for England needed to be opposed in Brighton:
    EDL member arrested after threats http://t.co/Nh4bV0IF

  8. Glyn

    English Defence League member arrested after threats of 'Oslo-style' attacks on Muslims http://t.co/GYsiiYBU on Facebook

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    Another piece of grist for the, free speech compare and contrast on and offline contexts, mill http://t.co/M3J3jOkO

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    English Defence League member arrested after threats of 'Oslo-style' attacks on Muslims http://t.co/GYsiiYBU on Facebook

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    EDL member arrested after threats | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Jntg7waB

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    EDL member arrested after threats | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Jntg7waB





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