TwitterJokeTrial and the relationship of criminal law to social media

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  • I agree with your comment that the tweet was "self evidently jokey"
    With that in mind what concerns me is how the CPS concluded that the case was one that satisfied the public interest criteria that I understood had to be considered in the first place. They may feel justified in having taken the decision bearing in mind that so far the courts have found in their favour but the courts do not delve into whether the prosecution is one that should have been taken in the first place. It cannot be right that a jokey comment made to a select few leads to a law abiding citizen (as far as I am aware) having a criminal record with all the negative consequences that flow from that. This kind of heavy handed response can do nothing for public confidence in the police or CPS.

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  • Really good post, David. Very clear on all the points, and very relevant to the case.

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  • USENet has been around for thirty years. I've seen many directly and indirectly menacing messages on it. In many ways it's a similar vehicle to twitter.

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  • It is perhaps unfortunate that s.127 is a summary only offence.It would have been interesting to hear a jury's view as to whether this message was of a menacing character.

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  • @Anonymous - He should have had a jury. I jury would have laughed it out of court. I'm entirely convinced.
    @(Philip Gibbons) - You are correct about the public interest considerations and that the courts have no jurisdiction over CPS decisions. The public interest stage is taken after the evidential stage though (or it is meant to be. I have my doubts in this case). The CPS have argued this time that Article 10 should be seen as having the effect of informing their public interest stage, rather than heightening the thresholds for evidence. I cannot accept this. Recent cases have shown that the CPS do not take free speech issues seriously. Also they are above scrutiny due to a qualified FOI exemption for "criminal investigations which the authority has the power to conduct."

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