The secularist thought-police are on the job again: investigating a British journalist’s blog post!

The threat to a British liberty

It’s a funny old world.  I have now been contacted by two journalists informing me that Bedfordshire Police are investigating The Spectator.  Why?  Because of the Melanie Philips blog where she referred to the “moral depravity” of “the Arabs” who killed the Fogel family in Israel.  CoffeeHousers can judge for themselves if they agree or disagree with her language and views – but should this be illegal?  The Guardian has written this story up, claiming The Spectator is being investigated by the Press Complaints Commission.  This is untrue.  

. . . But all this raises an interesting point about freedom of speech.  It baffles me why the Bedfordshire Police – who presumably have plenty real crime to solve – should have to sit down with a print-out of Melanie Philips’ blog and decide whether to prosecute The Spectator for printing her remarks.  It’s not their fault: laws have been passed which means that (for example) Tony Blair faced a six-month investigation from the North Wales Police when they read in Lance Price’s memoirs that he had been rude about the Welsh.  In a way, I felt Blair deserved it – because it was under him that such daft laws crept their way into the system.  Under him that Britain started to become a country where people are prosecuted for what they say, rather than what they do.

Just over a year ago, the Crown Prosecution Service put out a statement saying that they had decided, on balance, not to prosecute Jan Moir for her remarks about Stephen Gately.  This again conjured up another mental image: of CPS officials, all bent over a page of the Daily Mail and working out whether the author should be put in jail.  Again, think of the other crimes going in in Britain – the other demands on the CPS time.  How did we get to this point?  The Bedfordshire Police are not expected to be a local Stasi.  Last time I checked, this is not East Germany.  To me, the idea of being imprisoned for what you say, or what you tweet, is deeply sinister.  And one which should raise more protest than it does.

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