In response to the revelations that one of the terrorists who killed in Saturday’s atrocity had previously appeared in the Channel 4 documentary ‘The Jihadi Next Door’ my automatic response was why isn’t the Public Order Act being applied equally?
Do you remember Kevin Crehan? He was the man who, with two others, put bacon and bread outside of a mosque and received a one year prison sentence. He died half way through his. Now, it can be argued that in comparison to other offences committed with lenient results the one year prison sentence is a lot for the offence, but the reason the judge was so harsh on him was because of the idea that such a simple action had aggravated, racial consequences and so had a bigger impact.
Crehan was convicted under the Public Order Act and I would imagine it was Section 3A which deals with acts intended to stir up religious or racist hatred and includes sexuality too.
My question is if Crehan can be found guilty under this act, why can’t Khuram Shazad Butt? He was, after all, seen with a flag widely recognised as that of ISIS and the narrator says: “I can’t help but think this is being actively provocative.” At the end of this display the police arrive; so what did they do?
Section 3A of the public order act (below, bold mine) has this subsection which is imprisonable for up to 12 years;
29BUse of words or behaviour or display of written material
(1)A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred [F6or hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation].
(2)An offence under this section may be committed in a public or a private place, except that no offence is committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the written material is displayed, by a person inside a dwelling and are not heard or seen except by other persons in that or another dwelling.
(3)F7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(4)In proceedings for an offence under this section it is a defence for the accused to prove that he was inside a dwelling and had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the written material displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling.
(5)This section does not apply to words or behaviour used, or written material displayed, solely for the purpose of being included in a programme service.
The use of the flag wasn’t solely for the purpose of a television programme as this is a reference to props in, for example, a World War 2 film. Furthermore under this act “religious hatred” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief. So, again, why isn’t this applicable here?