Chilling freedom of speech, one poppy picture arrest at a time

In the latest of a series of frankly bizarre and unwarranted arrests, Kent Police yesterday took a 19 year old into custody. His crime?

“This follows a posting on a social network site of a burning poppy,”said the police statement. At the time of writing the person was still being detained and has not yet been interviewed.

He was arrested under the Malicious Communications Act 1988. Section 1, “deals with the sending to another of any article which is indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat, or which is false, provided there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient”.

Kent Police need to urgently release this man and drop an utterly ridiculous investigation into something that has harmed no-one.

It is not illegal – and nor should it ever be – to offend people and, however idiotic or insensitive the picture may have been.

The incident is certainly not worthy of arrest and highlights the urgent need to reform a law that poses a serious risk to freedom of speech after several ludicrous prosecutions in recent months.



  1. Trofim
    12th November 2012

    I read a comment on Liberal Conspiracy which suggested that this followed the usual bombardment of complaints, which is getting a sure-fire way of getting the police to do somethng, but usually the wrong thing.

  2. Jay
    12th November 2012

    Well… on the plus side, we’re doomed.

  3. Luke
    12th November 2012

    shouldn’t be arrested but should be made to justify his thoughts which he felt so compelled to share with the world, to veterens and currently serving soldiers, face to face. possibly in a windowless room with no cctv…utter scum bag waste of space.

    • Christopher Briggs
      12th November 2012

      I see. So a burning poppy is construed as a threat. What does that make your suggestion? And if his right to free expression is not reason enough to keep him from the jail cell, what about the implication you are making?

  4. Bill
    12th November 2012

    I am with you on this Freedom of Speech has to mean someone somewhere will be offended by what is said.

    Not everyone agrees with the killing of young people in wartime no matter what justification a government comes up with (If politicians were in the front line then there would be far fewer wars going on today). Not everyone has respect for those who die in wartime and in a country that is supposedly a free democracy these people should be free to express their opinion no matter who takes offence.

  5. Bruce
    12th November 2012

    Bugger the bobbies; what about pictures of burning Poppy BUSH?

  6. disgusted..
    12th November 2012

    Blatant incitement..burning the poppy was bad enough..but to publish his act and post disgusting comments about serving soldiers is an afront to common decency..this moron Linford House posted this while a young man lost his life in Afghanistan..protecting ignorant vile mouthed people like this..WHY

    • Sgt Munroe
      7th December 2012

      Care to tell us all how a young lad dying in an illegal war in Afganistan is ‘protecting’ us all? I too served for many years and would be interested in how you explain that….

  7. Anonymous
    12th November 2012

    He shouldn’t have been arrested full stop, but that’s not a matter for you to decide upon arrest, that would be irresisting arrest, which would only add to their charge sheet. Let the courts handle it, they’d probably give the police a good spanking for bringing such trivial matters to the court after throwing out the cases.

  8. Jared
    12th November 2012

    I am sure his Legal Aid lawyer will get him out of this.

    • Anonymous
      13th November 2012

      I heard freedom of expression is all that’s needed, is that true?

  9. Mike.
    12th November 2012

    Whatever happened to the freedom to dissent from the views of others? Over the decades, the meaning of the poppy remembrance anniversary has clearly shifted away from its initial expression of grief at the sickening, needless waste of countless young lives as a result of WW1. The current highly “emotionalised” emphasis is being used to stifle legitimate debate on Britain’s foreign policies, and to create a “taboo” no-go climate for those who do not endorse or share the obscuring of events by “sanctifying” military activity in general. Basically, we are now in a “thought-police” situation, with dangerous “catch-all” laws that serve only the furthering of an arrogant fascist mediocrity.

  10. Chilling freedom of speech, one poppy picture arrest at a time « Engineering Evil
    13th November 2012

    […] //… […]

  11. John Name
    19th February 2013

    @Kent Police

    Fuck off out of it you stupid turds.