Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Daily Mail on top form...... until it commits a terrorist offence under S.58A of the Terrorism Act 2000

The Mail recently ran a story about Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh under the banner that he "claimed £32,000 above £200,000-plus salary". This was retweeted by Matthew Scott of Barristerblogger

The problem is that the Mail couldn't stop itself at ranting about the pay of a failing Chief Constable, oh no, as is customary it quickly worked up an epic cramp in its forearm looking at his home. 

His expenses also include a £6,900 taxpayer-funded ‘housing allowance’ towards his sprawling five-bedroom home in Essex, which is worth nearly £1million and has a kitchen crafted by top designer Nicholas Anthony.”

This was followed by an aerial picture of what was presumably the random brick pile. 

Unfortunately for the Mail and the 232 people who retweeted the outrage and as was pointed out by twitter user @polybore, "Publishing Pic of this officer’s house an offence Terror act 2008?"

Matthew Scott initially dismissed the idea but after a big of worried review of the scatter gun of shit that is the UK's draconian anti terror laws (and brace yourselves because more of this shit is coming in the form of the banks, paypal et all being about to receive a home office fisting in a truly mental plan to prevent kiddies seeing breasts on the interwebs), he concludes that an both the Mail and himself have committed an offense (with no mental element either so guilty until proven innocent). As he points out; 

In the rather confusing fashion of many modern statutes, S.76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 adds a S.58A to the Terrorism Act 2000, which reads as follows:58A Eliciting, publishing or communicating information about members of armed forces etc(1) A person commits an offence who—(a) elicits or attempts to elicit information about an individual who is or has been—(i) a member of Her Majesty’s forces,(ii) a member of any of the intelligence services, or(iii) a constable,which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or(b) publishes or communicates any such information. 
...I went through the elements of the offence systematically. Subsection (1) (a) might apply.to the Daily Mail: Mr Kavanagh is a “constable,” a Chief Constable. Presumably the Daily Mail had “elicited the information” from somewhere (unless it just dropped, unbidden, into their lap). Even more pertinently, subsection (1) (b) applies because they had “published” it – certainly in the online edition (and probably, although I haven’t checked) in the paper edition too. It is easy to see how a picture of Mr Kavanagh’s house could be of use to a person “preparing an act of terrorism.” Moreover, the section contains no mental element – in other words the offence is complete even without any intent to assist a terrorist. 
And with dawning horror I realised that it was not just the Mail that had apparently committed this terrorism offence. By tweeting the story I had published the same picture, as had at least 232 other people... On the face of it, all of us have committed an offence under the Terrorism Act. It carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and, although I haven’t dared check, probably a whole host of other nasties as well to make sure that we don’t step out of line once we are released.
The Mail seems to have realised this too and hastily deleted the picture. It is somewhat worrying that you don’t need to be a terrorist to get sent to HMP Barlinnie and that "anyone from the head of a huge news organisation to a single tweeter needs to beware the huge reach of the criminal law".


Lola said...

Things are getting very nasty, aren't they?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Lovely. The mail - unlikely free speech campaigners.

SumoKing said...

getting? they got nasty 15 years ago but everyone was scared that illiterate, destitute brown people were somehow secretly super clever what with figuring out how to explode themselves thus guaranteeing themselves a better life so we damn sure better make all our lives a whole heap blander and more shit

things will be different when I am Emperor

James Higham said...

And meanwhile, the Mail is hard at the Narrative over the Olympics today too.