New guidelines could see fewer people being charged in England and Wales for offensive messages on social networks.
The Director of Public Persecutions said people should only face a trial if their comments on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere go
beyond being offensive. He claimed the guidance combats threats and internet trolls without having a chilling effect on free speech.
The guidance comes after a string of cases of prosecutions for jokes, and trivial insults, including the
prosecution of a man who tweeted a joke threatening to blow up an airport.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had now dealt with more than 50 cases relating to potentially criminal comments posted
He said the interim guidelines, which come into force immediately, clarified which kinds of cases should be prosecuted and which would only go ahead after a rigorous assessment whether it was in the public interest to prosecute.
guidance says that if someone posts a message online that clearly amounts to a credible threat of violence, specifically targets an individual or individuals, or breaches a court order designed to protect someone, then the person behind the message
should face prosecution.
People who receive malicious messages and pass them on, such as by retweeting, could also fall foul of the law.
However, online posts that are merely grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false would face a
much tougher test before the individual could be charged under laws designed to prevent malicious communications. Starmer said that many suspects in this last category would be unlikely to be prosecuted because it would not be in the public interest to
take them to court. This could include posts made by drunk people who, on sobering up, take swift action to delete the communication. Starmer said:
These interim guidelines are intended to strike the right balance
between freedom of expression and the need to uphold the criminal law.
The interim guidelines thus protect the individual from threats or targeted harassment while protecting the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion
about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some and painful to those subjected to it.
Although the interim guidance is now in force, its final form is subject to a consultation that runs until 13
The BBFC have released the latest Podcast. Episode 9: Imitable Techniques.
There is the usual interesting current news section and a feature on the censorship of imitable techniques (kids hiding in tumble dryers, hotwiring cars, making
light bulb bombs and martial arts weaponry).
There is also an illuminating interview with David Austin, Assistant Director, Policy & Public Affairs, speaking about the recent BBFC 'research' to survey the opinions of 35 ordinary film viewers.
He was a little unconvincing though. He starts off well, explaining very clearly that BBFC censorship for adults is based on removing content illegal by the laws of the land and content that is harmful. Notably Austin did not mention the concept
of censoring material on the basis of public opinion.
He explained that a current basis for cutting sexual violence was research by psychologist Guy Cumberbatch, but this was now 10 years old. So the BBFC embarked on a 18 month project to update
the guidelines, culminating in a survey of 35 lay people's opinions.
Austin did not explain how the opinion of a small group of inexpert people could possibly define what films are actually harmful. Nor did he offer the alternative that the BBFC
now censor according to public opinion, rather than the aforementioned legality and harm.
Then he moved seamlessly into claiming that the surveyed views of 35 people were in fact 'public opinion'. I can't imagine that a statistical analysis of the
'research' would support that idea that a sample size of 35 people would have any statistical significance whatsoever.
Austin was asked the very important question about the practical effects of the new guidelines, especially as there is no
practical indication whether the BBFC are 'tightening up' the guidelines or not. Just that the BBFC will take more factors into account, some supporting censorship, and some mitigating the need for censorship. In fact nearly all of the British media has
reported a 'tightening up' of guidelines.
Austin was asked what recent decisions would have been made differently as a result of the changes. He answered by urging listeners to take note of the following table in the BBFC 'research' paper.
The Killer Inside Me
18 uncut or 18 with cuts
I Spit On Your Grave
18 after cuts
Mixed ranging from 18 uncut to rejected
The Human Centipede II
18 after cuts
18 with cuts or rejected
A Serbian Film
18 after cuts
18 with cuts or rejected
Presumably this is an indication that most films will be unaffected but that the highly controversial or sexually violent may be more strictly censored.
Perhaps we will get to see soon if someone decides to try and release the new Maniac
Seemingly a little late of the mark, but perhaps just in time for possible renewed flak from the next controversial film, The Innocent Prophet from the likes of Terry Jones. Anyway UK parliamentarians have called for a ban on the previous
controversial film, The Innocence of Muslims
EDM 829: Innocence of Muslims Film
That this House notes the anger of Muslim constituents in response to the online video, The Innocence of Muslims;
is offended by the vile, Islamophobic slurs it makes about a faith followed by over two billion people worldwide;
believes that the film constitutes incitement to hatred on the grounds of race and
further believes that the film itself is of appallingly poor quality;
and urges the Government to make provision for its banning.
The website Film School Rejects has written an interesting article about the BBFC's pitiful justification for a policy change.
The article quotes Catherine Anderson of the BBFC defending the board's actions:
are satisfied that the research methodology was very robust. This was qualitative rather than quantitative research. The research looked in depth at the issues raised by depictions of sexual and sadistic violence in films and videos. One on one
interviews and focus groups lasting three hours in length are more appropriate for exploring the issues around sexual and sadistic violence rather than a more superficial piece of quantitative research.
The research does not
purport to demonstrate that certain depictions of sadistic and sexual violence definitively cause harm. Proving harm from media effects research is always contested. There are difficulties in translating laboratory results to real life. But the public's
perceptions of possible harm are important. This is not only because they may have real life experience of harm but also because classification decisions need to be in line with public expectations for regulation to enjoy public confidence and therefore
Perhaps the BBFC could decypher their unhelpful words describing the new policy by saying how the new policy would affect classifications of the films in the study if they were to be resubmitted today.
BBFC is to adjust sexual and sadistic violence policy to take into account key areas of public concern. Recent research has helped the BBFC to respond to concerns about depictions of rape, sexual assault and other sadistic violence in films and
Research carried out on behalf of the BBFC in 2002 and again in 2012 demonstrates that members of the film viewing public find unacceptable certain depictions of sexual and sadistic violence which, in their view,
have the potential to cause harm.
Although the research reaffirms views that adults should be able to choose what they see, provided it remains within the law and is not potentially harmful. They are concerned about young men
with little experience, and more vulnerable viewers, accessing sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women.
Film viewing members of the
public support intervention at the adult category, by the BBFC, to remove certain depictions of violence on the grounds that they consider them to be potentially harmful.
The research carried out by Ipsos MORI in 2012 highlights
concerns about certain depictions of sadistic and sexual violence to which the BBFC must respond. Much of the public believe that sexual and sadistic violence are legitimate areas for film makers to explore. But they are concerned by certain depictions
which may be potentially harmful to some, including scenes which:
make sexual or sadistic violence look appealing
reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy rape
invite viewer complicity in rape or other harmful violent activities.
Most of those involved in the research expect the BBFC to intervene to remove potential harm from such scenes. The BBFC may also intervene where a depiction is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example it consists of
strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) as to pose a harm risk.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:
"There is no 'one size fits all' rule for any
theme under the BBFC classification guidelines, as long as what is depicted is within the law and does not pose a harm risk. Once again the public have told us that context, tone and impact, and a work's over all message, can aggravate a theme, or make
it acceptable, even in cases of sexual and sadistic violence. The decision as to whether and how to intervene in scenes of sexual and sadistic violence is complex, but drawing out and applying these aggravating and mitigating factors is helpful in
arriving at a decision which balances freedom of expression against public protection".
SEXUAL AND SADISTIC VIOLENCE: RESPONSE OF THE BBFC TO PUBLIC ATTITUDES AND CONCERNS
Research carried out on behalf of the BBFC, most recently by Ipsos MORI in 2012, demonstrates that film viewing members of the public find unacceptable certain depictions of sexual and sadistic violence which, in
their view, have the potential to cause harm. This concern is particularly acute in relation to young men, without much life experience, and other vulnerable viewers accessing a diet of sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to
normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women.
Further, there is support for intervention, at the adult category, to remove certain depictions of violence on the grounds that many of the public
consider them to be potentially harmful.
The BBFC's response to these concerns must strike a balance between, on the one hand, freedom of expression and the principle that adults should be free to choose what they see provided it
remains within the law and is not potentially harmful, and the need to protect the vulnerable from material which may cause harm.
The response outlined below covers situations where the BBFC is considering cutting, or even
rejecting, works aimed at adults and containing violence, in the absence of a specific legal prohibition on depiction of the activity.
When considering such intervention, the test the BBFC will apply is whether there is a real, as
opposed to a fanciful, risk of harm. Research in this area is contested. There are difficulties both in carrying out such research and in translating findings from the laboratory to society. However, the difficulty of establishing broad and
replicated findings from such research does not mean that there are no harm risks. The research literature, and reviews of it, often warn that certain works may pose certain risks for certain individuals in certain circumstances.
What the public considers to be potentially harmful is also important. This is not simply because members of the public may have practical experience of harm risks in operation in society which cannot easily be addressed in the
lab. Furthermore, the confidence of the public that the classification system will protect the vulnerable from material that has the potential to cause harm is itself an important indicator of whether the system is effective.
B. The response of the BBFC
This response covers both fictional and documentary (for example "extreme reality" works) which contain sexual and/or sadistic violence.
Intervention is likely
in relation to any depiction of sexual or sadistic violence which is likely to pose a non trivial harm risk through, for example:
making sexual or sadistic violence look appealing
reinforcing the suggestion that victims enjoy rape
inviting viewer complicity in rape or other harmful violent activities.
Intervention may also be required in cases where a depiction is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any significant mitigating factors) as to pose a harm
Material of this nature might also be considered obscene. When considering intervention on the ground of obscenity, the BBFC will take account of the defence of public good and the significance of the overall
nature and purpose of the work in establishing whether or not a work is likely to be found obscene.
The BBFC will also take into account the right to freedom of expression established under the Human Rights Act 1988.
The decision as to whether and how to intervene is complex and subject to a number of aggravating or mitigating indicators which need to be balanced out in order to arrive at a decision.
are listed below. They are a guide to assist BBFC Examiners in making recommendations in relation to works which are on the edge of suitability for classification according to the BBFC's Classification Guidelines.
are not designed to be a tick list. No one indicator will of itself necessarily determine the classification of a work. Examiners will balance the indicators and use their judgement when deciding which course of action to recommend -- passing the work
uncut; passing the work with cuts; or determining that the work is unsuitable for classification. The presence of one or two aggravating indicators will not necessarily lead a work to be cut or even rejected, if the mitigating indicators outweigh
them. Nevertheless, if Examiners recommend not intervening, they will highlight any aggravating indicators in their reports and justify why they do not lead to intervention.
Each factor listed below is expanded with possible
examples of when the factor might come into play.
Does the depiction make sexual or sadistic violence seem normal, appealing, or arousing?
example, the perpetrators are characters with whom the viewer might identify. The scene is shot in a way which might invite the viewer to identify with the perpetrator(s). Violence is glamorised in a way which could arouse the
viewer. The scene places an emphasis on the sexual pleasure of the perpetrator(s). The sequence offers a "how to" guide on how to perpetrate sexual or sadistic violence. The sequence has the potential to raise concerns about
the enactment of sexual fantasies, particularly among vulnerable viewers.
Is the depiction likely to appeal especially to impressionable or vulnerable viewers, including young men and gang members, with the result that it might
influence their behaviour or attitudes in a way which may cause harm?
For example, there is a gang mentality at play which suggests that sadistic or sexual violence can be a bonding experience within a group.
Does the depiction perpetuate any suggestion that victims enjoy rape?
For example, the depiction suggests that women may become sexually aroused through being raped or that "no" means
Is the depiction of sexual or sadistic violence gratuitous, including in terms of excessive length and/or detail?
For example, the depiction is out of step with what is required by
the narrative. The work does not have much of a narrative. Rape features a focus on eroticising detail, such as nudity. The scene wallows in gratuitous violence.
Are children involved in the
Participants in the 2012 research felt that the rape of children, or the juxtaposition of images of children with sexual violence to be potentially more harmful than any other form of sexual violence.
Does the depiction amount to an unacceptable degradation of human dignity?
For example, the sequence features strong, including real life, abuse, torture, killing or other violence without significant
contextual justification or other mitigating factors to the extent that it offers human suffering as entertainment in itself? Might the sequence be considered significantly to erode viewer empathy?
Does the work make it clear that the violence depicted is not condoned?
For example, the perpetrators of sexual or sadistic violence are punished within a work's narrative.
The narrative is balanced. (For example, it does not contain 80 minutes of graphic rape followed by two minutes of mild rebuke.) The viewer is invited to identify with the victim(s).
Does the work or scene
lack credibility in a way which undermines its power?
For example, the work is dated and/or ridiculous. The depiction of sexual or sadistic violence is comic and unlikely to be taken seriously. The sequence is
otherwise risible. Low production values can add to the lack of credibility.
Is the scene discreetly shot?
For example, it leaves some detail to the imagination. The scene only as long as
the narrative requires it to be. The treatment is in keeping with the narrative.
Is the scene narratively justified?
For example, it is based on a true story or carries a strong anti-rape
message. What the viewer sees is necessary to explain character motivation. The work raises awareness of an issue of public concern in a responsible way.
Where there is any nudity is it outside the context of
Most participants in the 2012 research felt that merely combining violent images with nudity, even sexualised nudity, was not necessarily a problem in itself. These viewers drew a clear distinction between rape,
where eroticising detail could be potentially harmful, and violence which is shot in a titillatory way.
The BBFC recently carried out what they laughably call research into public attitudes towards depictions of rape, sexual and sadistic violence (so, no leading phrases there...). In this case, 35 people across London. Bristol and Dundee were
asked to watched and comment on a number of recent controversial films that had either been passed uncut, cut or banned.
Let's think about that for a moment. 35 people in three cities -- two in the South of England and one in
Scotland. No serious scientific researcher or public opinion market researcher would consider this to be anywhere near the number and variety required to use to gain any level of information about public attitudes. You'd probably get greater variety and
numbers in a railway station bar.
The Daily Mail leader writers also enjoy the opportunity to go into overdrive:
Decades too late, the British Board of Film Classification announces a crackdown on sexually violent films, whose insidious spread it has done so much to encourage.
Ever since the 1960s, the
BBFC has been in the vanguard of the permissive society, allowing increasingly graphic material to be seen by ever younger audiences.
Only now, after feeding an appetite for obscenity that has done untold social damage, do the
censors acknowledge concerns that such films could normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women .
The irony is that this U-turn comes as the BBFC is all but powerless to stem the corrupting
For in the age of the internet, every child or teenager with a smartphone or laptop has access to grotesque filth at the touch of a button or click of a mouse.
Presumably Boris Johnson is outlining his ideas in support of a Leveson compromise for his mate Dave. More hassle for internet publishers and a demand for newspapers to set up something themselves, but
The Hunt is a 2012 Denmark drama by Thomas Vinterberg. With Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen and Annika Wedderkopp.
UK: Passed 15 uncut for strong language, sex and violence and a brief strong sexual image for:
UK 2012 cinema release
The BBFC commented about a rare example of a hardcore image appearing in a non-documentary 15 rated film:
In one scene teenage boys look at a pornographic image and show it to a young girl. The image in question is only
briefly seen and depicts a woman holding a man's erect penis. The young girl and the image are never shown together and there is no suggestion the child actress was ever exposed to the image. Although graphic, the image has an important contextual
justification in the narrative because when the young girl explains what she's seen, the audience is aware that she's describing this image rather than a real life situation with her teacher.
The BBFC has updated its website with a bolder and more colourful affair with lots more pictures.
There are new front page features providing a list of classification information for new cinema releases and for the latest DVD classifications.
Most, if not all data items are still available. A slight problem is that when a title search results in a long list of matches, these are presented in endless unordered subpages to click through, rather than a long list that previously was quick
to scan through.
In terms of depth of data, the website is way ahead of any other similar site, and now it has better decorated with film posters and colour.
Update: BBFC Insight
The BBFC is pleased to announce the launch of its new website which brings together the main BBFC website, the BBFC website for parents (PBBFC) and the BBFC education website for students (SBBFC). With improved search functionality, the new look BBFC
website places film content information at its core, making it easier for the public, parents in particular, to find detailed BBFCinsight information about any film rated by the BBFC.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC says:
We designed the new website to make it easier for parents to make informed decisions about the films their children see whether at the cinema, on DVD or via download. BBFCinsight is designed to be clear and unbiased, giving details
about the age rating issues in a film, but also other details parents have told us they like to be aware of, such as examples of mild language, or even themes such as divorce or bereavement that may not impact on the age rating, but might upset some
children. Parents can find a short summary of BBFCinsight on DVD boxes and cinema posters and more detailed BBFCinsight is published on the website and the BBFC iPhone and Android Apps.
All BBFC film age ratings come with BBFCinsight,
which combines the BBFC's previous Consumer Advice and Extended Classification Information (ECI) under one memorable name. BBFCinsight begins with a summary sentence (like Consumer Advice) then goes straight into a longer explanation about the
classification of the film and why it got the rating it did. The new BBFC website also allows users to watch trailers* for new films and sign up to receive regular BBFC newsletters.
John Carr, key adviser on internet safety to the UK Government
and Executive Board member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) said:
BBFCinsight and the new BBFC website will prove incredibly useful to parents navigating the wealth of online film content available
to them and their families. By providing detailed information about a films' rating before it's released, the BBFC is equipping parents with tools that are timely, intuitive and provide information at a glance, as well as a more in-depth explanation
about what their children are going to see. Parents should not have to struggle to find out whether a film or DVD might upset their child or another family member and the BBFC is helping to ensure this is something all families can prevent.
Verity Gill, Founding Director of Grannynet said:
Here at Grannynet we are delighted with the new BBFCinsight tool which we feel adds an invaluable dimension to the already vital support that the BBFC
offers to grandparents. Any way in which our members can feel more confident about what their grandchildren are watching will ensure the film selection process is easier and more enjoyable for everyone concerned.
Independent research carried out for the BBFC in 2011 found that 85% of respondents said it is important to have consistent BBFC classifications available for Video-on-Demand content, rising to 90% amongst parents with children
under 16. As well as providing detailed BBFCinsight for every film classified, the BBFC's service for streamed and downloaded content, which launched in collaboration with the home entertainment industry in 2008, also provides trusted classifications,
category symbols and BBFCinsight to set-top box, video-on-demand and other online content providers. Key affiliates using the BBFC service include Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Europe, Warner Bros., Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, BT
Vision, Tesco/Blinkbox, TalkTalk, Picturebox and Netflix.
The new BBFC website features all the BBFC's educational content, previously available on the Students' SBBFC website. This includes case studies about controversial films,
competitions for kids and information about how to book BBFC educational visits. The BBFC has established a number of partnerships with the film industry and cinemas to increase its contact with parents and children. Dialogue with the public both online
and through education seminars, is integral to the work of the BBFC and helps inform the issues raised at each review of the BBFC Classification Guidelines. As part of this education and outreach work, the BBFC visited around 130 schools, colleges and
other institutions in 2011, speaking to around 12,000 students.
Ofcom have imposes a financial penalty of £4,000 against Asian Fever Community Radio for incitement to torture gays.
The Finding related to two episodes of the programme Sister Ruby Ramadan Special 2011 , broadcast on 17 August 2011 at
12:00 and 18 August 2011 at 11:00, each approximately fifty minutes in duration, which were broadcast in Urdu.
Ofcom found that two of the presenter's statements in the programme broadcast on 17 August 2011 were likely to encourage or to incite
the commission of crime or to lead to disorder. The statements were as follows:
What should be done if they do it [practise homosexuality]? If there are two such persons among you, that do this evil, the shameful act,
what do you have to do? Torture them; punish them; beat them and give them mental torture.
Allah states, 'If they do such a deed [i.e. homosexuality], punish them, both physically and mentally.' Mental punishment means rebuke
them, beat them, humiliate them, admonish and curse them, and beat them up. This command was sent in the beginning because capital punishment had not yet been sent down.
Ofcom found that these statements were likely to encourage or to
incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder. This was because Ofcom considered that the two statements could be objectively and reasonably regarded as not only condoning but encouraging violent behaviour against homosexual people.
of violence and hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation are prohibited by UK law. We considered that the broadcast of these two statements made by the presenter was likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime, i.e. violence or other
unlawful acts motivated by hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation. For the same reasons we concluded that these two statements were likely to encourage others to copy the sort of unacceptable behaviour towards homosexual people described by the
Ofcom found these and other sermons to breach their rules:
Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the
context. Such material may include... discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of... religion... and sexual orientation)...
Rule 2.4: Programmes must not include material (whether in individual programmes
or in programmes taken together) which, taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.
Rule 3.1: Material
likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
Rule 4.1: Broadcasters must exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the
content of programmes which are religious programmes.
Outstanding human rights leaders from all walks of life were honoured for their efforts at Liberty's annual Human Rights Awards in London last night. Inspirational legal figures, young people, artists and campaigners were rewarded for their work in
protecting and promoting the rights of others at the ceremony at the capital's Southbank Centre.
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:
It is a joy to celebrate the dedication, commitment and
achievements of all our winners and nominees, every one of whom has done so much to protect precious rights and freedoms.
With human rights so often trashed in certain circles, and in the shadow of Secret Courts and the Snoopers'
Charter, it is all the more inspiring to reward our winners' efforts.
The Liberty Human Rights Awards 2012 winners and category nominees in full were:
Lifetime Achievement Award:
Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton -- In recognition of a career dedicated to defending and upholding the rights of disabled people in the UK. She has fought hard to change attitudes towards disabled people, focusing on much-needed support as
opposed to charity.
Independent Voice of the Year:
Lord Pannick -- For his vocal and forensic opposition to the Justice and Security Bill as a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords. Since becoming a
peer, he has consistently held the Government to account on Rule of Law and human rights issues. The other nominees were Salma Yaqoob and The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Rev. James Jones.
Human Rights Campaigner of the Year
Open Rights Group and 38 Degrees -- For their effective campaigning work to defend freedom of expression and civil liberties in the digital age which has, in a very short time, made a huge impact in the way social change is
effected -- particularly their online campaigns against the "Snoopers' Charter". The other nominees were Change.org and Blacklist Support Group.
Lifetime Achievement Award:
Nicolas Bratza -- In recognition of fourteen years' dedicated service as the UK judge of the European Court of Human Rights, culminating in his appointment as President of the Court in 2011. In addition to his judicial work, Sir Nicolas has also
played a vital role in seeking to defend human rights and the Rule of Law from unjustified attack.
Human Rights Arts Award, in association with Southbank Centre:
Jenny Sealey -- For her tireless work
with deaf and disabled artists. Her commitment to providing audiences and actors with a true theatrical experience culminated in her co-artistic direction of over 3,000 participants at the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games this year. The other
nominees were Baaba Maal, Mark Cousins and Deborah Warner, Fiona Shaw and Artichoke.
Human Rights "Close to Home" Award:
Aaron Sonson, Satwant Singh Kenth, Gregory Paczkowski -- For providing
important public information about individual rights and the potential abuse of police powers through their mobile app "Stop and Search". The app itself has now had over 2,600 downloads and over 150 experiences uploaded. The other nominees were
Ashley John-Baptiste and Mark Neary.
Human Rights Lawyer of the Year:
Ben Cooper -- For his committed and tireless work on some of the most complex and difficult extradition cases. Ben acted
for Gary McKinnon throughout his fight against extradition to the US, finally achieving justice only last month. The other nominees were Raggi Kotak of One Pump Court and Michael Oswald at Bhatt Murphy.
Human Rights Young
Person of the Year:
Martha Payne -- For defending free expression when she stood up to her local council after they banned her publishing pictures of schools meals on her blog, NeverSeconds. The council backed down after outcry and, since
then, her website has been visited by over six million people and has raised more than £100,000 for charity Mary's Meals. The other nominees were Scottish Youth Parliament and Eilidh Naismith and Billy Davidson.
"Long Walk" Award:
Hillsborough Family Support Group, Hillsborough Justice Campaign and Hope for Hillsborough -- For their unwavering dedication to seeking justice for the 96 victims, their families and the
survivors of the Hillsborough Disaster. The tireless campaigning efforts of these groups have finally led to the publication of the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. The other nominees were the "Mau Mau" Litigants and Medical
The Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell has been harangued for a cartoon about Israel's attack on Gaza.
A cartoon appearing in Friday's paper, shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a puppet-master, controlling tiny versions of Foreign
Secretary William Hague and Tony Blair.
It was published after Hague said that Hamas bore principal responsibility for the military operation .
Bell explained that the cartoons of Hague and Blair were a side issue to
inspiration drawn from a press conference given by Netanyahu in front of numerous Israeli flags. Bell added that he had chosen to draw the cartoon because:
the coverage of Operation Pillar of Defence has been so skewed
in favour of the Israeli side, particularly I regret to say on the BBC, that I do personally feel quite a strong need to make the counter argument.
Barrister Jeremy Brier lodged a complaint about Steve Bell's drawing with the Press
Complaints Commission claimed that the image was plainly antisemitic.
The director of public prosecutions is exploring whether Facebook and Twitter should take more responsibility for censoring their networks for supposed abuse and harassment in an attempt to reduce the number of cases of people being persecuted for jokes
Keir Starmer is this week consulting with lawyers, journalists and police in a series of seminars on the subject. He seems keen to ask if social media companies can censor their sites because police are concerned about the volume of
offensive posts and tweets they may be called to investigate.
Those attending the panels said Starmer frequently returned to the subject, and he is preparing to draw up guidelines against an almost daily backdrop of arrests, prosecutions and
controversy. But there is no immediate consensus on what greater self-regulation for social media would look like.
The growing number of arrests often invoke the repressive section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act, which makes it an offence to
send or post grossly offensive material online.
Meanwhile, police are worried about the time spent examining cases and that it will only be practicable to investigate a handful of cases where emotions are running high. Andy Trotter, who
speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers on media issues, said: Many offensive comments are made every day on social media and guidance will assist the police to focus on the most serious matters.
Police would like Facebook and
Twitter to act faster in deleting offensive comments to avoid arrests being necessary and to see if it is possible to explore ways of blocking particular individuals from using their networks.
A teenager who posted bad taste jokes about April Jones on his Facebook page has been jailed for 12 weeks.
Matthew Woods made comments about April and Madeleine McCann. Woods was arrested for his own safety after about 50 people descended on his
He pleaded guilty at Chorley magistrates court to sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is 'grossly offensive'.
The chairman of the bench, Bill Hudson, said Woods's comments were
so abhorrent he deserved the longest sentence the court could hand down. Hudson added: The reason for the sentence is the seriousness of the offence, the public outrage that has been caused and we felt there was no other sentence this court
could have passed which conveys to you the abhorrence that many in society feel this crime should receive.
The court was told Woods's Facebook page was available to a large number of people but there's no mention of how many people actually
Martina Jay, persecuting, said: He saw a joke on Sickipedia [an online database devoted to sick jokes] and changed it slightly.
Among Woods's comments were: Who in their right mind would abduct a ginger kid? In another
he said: I woke up this morning in the back of a transit van with two beautiful little girls, I found April in a hopeless place. He also wrote: Could have just started the greatest Facebook argument EVER. April fools, who wants Maddie? I love
April Jones. Also posted were comments of a more sexually explicit nature.
The CPS has confirmed that it reviewed the case and was content with the prosecution going ahead.
Offsite Comment: No one should be put in
prison for making a joke that other people don’t like.
A sales adviser who made a series of bad taste comments about five-year-old April Jones on Facebook has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Magistrates in Worcester chose not to jail Sam Busby despite being told that another Facebook user was sentenced to three months in prison for an
almost identical offence last month.
Busby admitted he was responsible for the comments and told officers he thought they could only be seen by his friends on Facebook.
Passing a six-week jail term suspended for 18 months,
magistrates said they had taken into account Busby's early guilty plea and remorse.
The chairman of the bench, Gill Porter, told the teenager:
You will realise by the time we have taken to discuss this matter
how seriously we view it. You have caused an immense amount of distress, not only to the recipient of this but potentially to April Jones's family and friends.
It happened at a very sensitive time for everybody concerned. You were
warned by your friends when they first saw your so-called joke, but you took no notice and you continued to make further even more offensive comments.
Busby was also ordered to pay an £ 80 victim
surcharge and keep to a 7pm-7am curfew for eight weeks.
A man who sent insulting messages on Facebook mocking the search for murdered five-year-old April Jones claimed his freedom of expression was breached, a court heard.
Liam Young posted supposedly shocking and offensive remarks online two
days after April Jones went missing last year.
He avoided a jail sentence but angered a sheriff after claiming social network messaging should be unrestricted in a democratic society . Young was given 120 hours unpaid work after admitting
disorderly conduct by sending indecent and offensive comments.
Sheriff Murphy highlighted Young's remarks to social workers, saying: It concerns me that someone believes they can say what they like on Facebook because they live in a democratic