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.