Guy Who Was Arrested & Convicted For Joke Tweet Loses Appeal | Techdirt. 12 November 2010
Remember the person who was charged under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. Here is the provision:
“(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he— (a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or (b) causes any such message or matter to be so sent.
(2) A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false, (b) causes such a message to be sent; or (c)persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.”
The problem with this piece of legislation is that it intended to tackle offensive/harassment types of behaviours that did not fit properly within the definition of more ‘traditional’ offences. But the assumption was that the offender was targeting specific victims, not sending a general message to the general public within a context of protest.
The problem is that the decision of the court, if based on this legislation, misinterpreted completely what Parliament intended to do. And because it is criminal law, the decision violates one of the fundamental principles of criminal law: strict interpretation of criminal law. For a complete analysis, see The Lawyer of the 2 March 2010