Sunday, 28 July 2013

Home Office in breach of Public Order Act

'Vince' Cable (that sounds so East London mafioso)  is the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in the UK.  When it comes to the Home Office driving sinister propaganda posters around London you have to agree it fails on all three points.  It's not good for business (tarnishes Britain's image), it's not innovative (the Nazis did it first), and isn't particularly skilful (more of a blunt instrument really).

So Vince has decided to condemn the use of these travelling billposters saying they are "stupid and offensive".  We do run into a small problem here because I guess the Home Office will find that remark offensive.  But being offensive is not, as far as I am aware, illegal.  Well that needs qualifying given that Judge Pattinson recently found Bethan Tichborne guilty of a public order offence for telling David Cameron he had "blood on his hands".  The judge said that Bethan's comments could "hardly be more insulting to anyone, whether a politician or not."  Well that's odd;  But there's one charge against Vince - he's has insulted the Home Office.

But more significantly Vince Cable went on to say it was designed to "create a sense of fear".  This clearly proves that his friends over at the Home Office are displaying words in public which are "designed to create fear" on a racial basis and are therefore committing a crime under the Public Order Act 1986, Chapter 64, Part III.  Make no mistake it is inciting 'racial hatred' since the Act defines 'racial hatred' specifically as "hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to ... (amongst other things) ... citizenship."  (See more details on this under "Government Hate Speech")

The Home Office has apparently responded to complaints about the offensive tone of the posters by saying they are "just a pilot" as if that mitigates the crime.  If that were to get them off the hook then it follows anyone can incite racial hatred any time just so long as it is only a test.

Given that the said Act specifically states that individuals in an organisation are guilty of a Public Order Offence if they made decisions which caused the organisation to commit such an offence then there are heads that must roll (so to speak).

I wondered if the  Public Interest Lawyers (who so kindly assisted Cait Reilly) would be interested in this case?  So I contacted them via their contact page with the following message:

The Home Office have driven posters around London which are clearly offensive and in the words of Vince Cable designed to "create a sense of fear".  Since the Public Order Act specifies such behaviour as illegal if "racial hatred is likely to be stirred up" and defines 'racial hatred' to include groups "defined by citizenship" it seems the Home Office is in breach of that law.  They have suggested mitigation by saying the posters are "just a pilot" but I feel as "just a pilot" they need to be held responsible and charged for the offence.  Otherwise, as just a pilot, they will conclude they can get away with it.  Given how this government appears to be flouting the law in more and more devastating ways I am concerned that they are held accountable whenever possible.  Is this something you could pursue or could you suggest something I might do about it?

I will be interested in their response.


  1. I can't wait to see what happens, I would love this rabble to be held to account!

    1. Yes - it would be nice. If they were truly held accountable for ALL their crimes I think we would have to run the government from Wormwood Scrubs, Pentonville and Holloway.