Haringey prosecutes writer of racist letter

Solicitors at Haringey Council have broken new ground by successfully prosecuting a man for sending a racially abusive letter to a parking control officer.

Haringey was the first council to successfully prosecute someone under the Malicious Communications Act, after senior litigation assistant Michael Munn took John Duggan to court for writing the letter.

The letter, sent into to the council after a parking officer had given him a £40 ticket, contained a stream of highly offensive racist abuse which was directed at the council's black parking officers.

In the letter, he described the parking officers as "mindless idiots," and expressed the wish that "those who benefited from the fine got Aids".

The letter outraged council officials who asked Munn to take legal action.

Munn first looked at prosecuting Duggan under the Public Order Act, which covers racist abuse. However, he would have needed the approval of the Attorney General to proceed with the case.

Instead Munn took Duggan to court under Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act, which allows for the prosecution of people who send grossly offensive and indecent letters.

Duggan was fined £250 plus £100 costs.

Munn said the successful prosecution under the Act added a new weapon to the armoury of local government lawyers in the fight against racism.