Welsh blogger fined

by Richard on April 29, 2008

From the BBC…

A blogger who “let off steam” about the way he was treated by police has been convicted of posting a grossly offensive and menacing message.

Gavin Brent, 24, from Holywell, Flintshire, was fined £150 with £364 costs by magistrates at Mold.

The court heard Brent had been charged with theft offences - which have yet to be dealt with - and posted a message about a police officer’s new-born baby.

Magistrates said any reasonable person would find the comments menacing.

[More]

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1

BlairSupporter 04.29.08 at 11:55 pm

Interesting. It seems slightly over the top when you read some of the nasty virulence printed on such as the Guardian’s Cif pages.

And recently there was a Lincoln’s Inn barrister who wrote this on his blog in reference to Tony Blair:

“Why oh why oh why oh why can’t the useless rag-head pillocks in Al Queda assassinate him? It would be great PR for them: many of us would revise our low opinion of them if they could do us this one small service. Their ineptness is proof that the terrorism ‘threat’ is laughable.”

Told that this could be in contravention of the Terrorism Act 2006 - incitement to terrorism and glorification of terrorism, he denied that this was a joke as other lawyers had protested in his defence, and he then said this:

“I do of course very much wish that someone somewhere someday kills Blair.”

And the archives at his site show that he has form on this:

“Geeklawyer would not, of course, encourage assist aid or incite the commission of any offence, except the murder of Tony Blair”

I don’t know about you, but I think THIS, especially the first call to AQ, is much worse than the call this man has made about the baby.

But maybe we don’t care as much about politicians as we do about babies.

And yet the threat to politicians’ lives could affect all of us.

I think the world has gone crazy.

2

Beth 04.30.08 at 1:26 am

It’s a shame in some ways that the post has been removed, because we have no way of knowing whether the claim that Brent’s comments were obviously threatening in context is valid. Certainly, I wouldn’t read the idiom “God help your children” as a threat, but as an expression of pity for a child growing up with me as a parent. But I can imagine that the parent of a newborn who read this from someone they had arrested would probably react quite differently.

As for incitements to kill politicians - it’s a difficult one. Anyone who comes into contact with Geeklawyer’s blog knows that he’s incredibly extreme and deliberately outrageous and offensive. It doesn’t seem likely that his comments will have any real consequences (”Hey, guys - see this? Some British barrister wants us to kill Tony Blair.” “Wow - I never thought of that before. We should totally do it!”) In contrast, the comments on Brent’s blog were made towards a specific person with whom he had personal contact and towards whom he could be considered a valid threat. Prosecuting Geeklawyer would give him tons of publicity for his views and potenitally make him a free-speech martyr, without making any serious point about using threatening language online.

3

Kim 04.30.08 at 7:10 am

You mean Tony Blair is alive? How can they tell?

4

Keir Hardie 04.30.08 at 2:29 pm

Beth, that’s exactly my interpretation of the idiom, and how arrogant of the magistrates to say that “any reasonable person” would interpret in differently. I’m sure I’m one of many bloggers who are no strangers to using hyperbole as a substitute for wit now and then who are uncomfortable about this - I certainly won’t be mentioning anyone’s children when I criticise them now (although I probably never did).

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