While no apology has yet to be posted on the Crown Prosecution Service’s website [UPDATE: now here] about Undercover Mosque, Ken McDonald QC, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, has an interesting speech posted there. Amusingly, it was delivered in Birmingham. It is an interesting read, discussing when the line is crossed from merely offensive to an offence:
Prosecutors have to show both determination and restraint when it comes to tackling crime based upon expression.
Determination, because it is important to demonstrate that sometimes statements overstep not just the boundaries of taste, decency and tolerance, but also the boundaries of the law.
So, as Mr Justice Hughes emphasised in the Abu Hamza case, it is not an offence to describe Britain as a ‘toilet’. Nor is it an offence to suggest that the West is corrupt and without moral conscience.
But it is an offence to say that “the killing of non-Muslims is justified in any circumstances”.
That prosecution succeeded because this was speech which broke the law.
He makes the very good point that:
Prosecutorial decisions that unduly interfere with the right to free speech risk degrading the whole of criminal justice.
He may wish to expand this opinion, to take into account that Prosecutorial forays into reviewing television may risk the reputation of the Crown Prosecution Service.