Freedom of Expression,  UKIP

UKIP and free speech

This story picks up on some of the themes in another recent post about UKIP – in particular their supposed insistence on  the importance of freedom of speech.  Michael Abberton received a police visit in response to a UKIP complaint (more on what that means exactly later) about a critical tweet.

The police explained that I hadn’t broken any law – there was no charge to answer and it really wasn’t a police matter.

They asked me to ‘take it down’ but I said I couldn’t do that as it had already been retweeted and appropriated, copied, many times and I no longer had any control of it (I had to explain to one of the officers what Twitter was and how it worked). They said that they couldn’t force me to take it down anyway.

I asked if I could tweet about the visit. The straight answer was ‘no’, as this might appear prejudicial in light of the upcoming election and the police must appear to remain neutral. But they couldn’t stop me from doing so, as I had Freedom of Speech. Incredulously, I said, “…but you must realise how this looks!” One shrugged, the other looked embarrassed.

The UKIP complaint runs counter to their commitment to free speech – and was obviously a complete waste of police time. Also, given the many exaggerated claims being made about the party at present, Abberton seems like an odd focus for particular ire. His tweet was testing the claims made by an anti-UKIP source – annotating those which didn’t seem evidenced.

In his post Abberton reports the police explaining that the complaint was ‘made by a certain political party’.  This seemed odd, and I thought it was more likely to be an unofficial initiative (and Abberton agreed that the police might have got things slightly wrong.)  The Guardian provides some clarification here.

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: “A Ukip councillor came across a tweet which he took exception to. The name of the person on the tweet was identified and that individual was spoken to. We looked at this for offences and there was nothing we could actually identify that required police intervention. Clearly, the councillor was unhappy about the tweets. If every political person was unhappy about what somebody else said about their views, we would have no politics.”

It’s now being suggested that the particular concern was in fact that Abberton might be impersonating a UKIP supporter in order to discredit the party.

But Breitbart London has learned from Cambridgeshire Police that not only did officers not ask Abberton to remove the tweets as he claims, but that the complaint was made with regard to misrepresentation, and the allegation that Abberton may have been attempting to fool people into believing that he was, or the graphic was from, a UKIP activist.

Cambridgeshire Police told Breitbart London, “It’s always best to check [rather than believing the media reporting]. We were looking into whether there was any impersonation there. Someone pretending to be a UKIP activist when they weren’t”

You only need to spend two minutes on Abberton’s blog or twitter stream to learn that he is no UKIP activist – so the reported police quibble about the media’s inaccuracies doesn’t hold much weight.