back to article Tory councillor arrested over 'stoning to death' tweet

A Tory councillor has been arrested and questioned following a comment on Twitter "calling" for the stoning of newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. Gareth Compton, 38, a conservative councillor from Erdington, Birmingham, was questioned by police for "sending an offensive or indecent message" contrary to the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Gotta say, this law is about as oppresive as you can get and still live in a free society.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Why no mention of Yasmin's reply

        Bias? I thought we *were* a Tory site.

        We hate everyone. I thought you knew that by now.

        I believe the story was written before she responded, and it wasn't about her, in any case... but I don't think anyone's got any particular love for her. The guy said an appalling thing. I'm not sure at all that it was correct to arrest him for it but it was disgusting. But that's irrelevant - we just reported what happened.

        I don't think you have a point. Please sit down.

  2. Ian Davies

    Guilty, no?

    Paul Chambers has just been found guilty and handed another £2,600 in court costs. Presumably our fair, balanced and perfectly sane judicial system will now relentlessly fuck up Gareth Compton's life the way it continues to fuck up Paul Chambers'?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      What's good for the goose ........

      "Paul Chambers has just been found guilty and handed another £2,600 in court costs. Presumably our fair, balanced and perfectly sane judicial system will now relentlessly fuck up Gareth Compton's life the way it continues to fuck up Paul Chambers'?" ..... Ian Davies Posted Thursday 11th November 2010 16:34 GMT

      Sounds perfectly fair and reasonable, Ian, for otherwise is the law and justice system proven to be biased/subjective/corrupt/a complete ass. Or is a multi-tiered system, with some immune from prosecution and punishment for similar offences which have resulted in conviction for others, what modern democracy is all about.

      Although surely that is perverted and subversive and a travesty of justice and far too much like something fascist to be anything else?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      He's doing a good enough job himself...

      He was given a £1,000 fine originally. It's his insistence on flogging a very, very dead horse that is increasing his legal bill relentlessly and dragging his name further through the mud.

      He made a complete and utter tit of himself, and didn't have the humility to face the consequences.

      1. RJ

        Or just maybe

        He is standing by his principles? You know, that the whole thing was a total miscarriage of justice based on the utter utter stupidity of a a broken system.

        He got a CRIMINAL RECORD for gods sake! Not a fine, or a slap on the wrist, a CRIMINAL SODDING RECORD!

        1. Naughtyhorse

          title, letters etc etc

          he got a criminal record cos he broke the law...

          thats how it works.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @title, letters etc etc

            No, he got convicted.

            As this law is open to interpretation and the events are also open to interpretation it's not a clear-cut case of breaking it.

            ISTM there is supposed to be "beyond reasonable doubt" proof to allow someone to be convicted.

            As neither he or the airport thought this was a threat and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, then this is a massive fail from our (so-called) justice system. And a worrying one at that.

            N.B. If you think you automatically get a criminal record for breaking the law, you might want to look at the figures for unsolved burglaries or statistics on how many people exceed the speed limit and compare them with the number of people with a criminal record.

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Yes, there is a test of BRD

              And he twattered that tweet beyond reasonable doubt. He admits to having done it.

              The only matter of opinion is whether it was "menacing" - and that is not a "beyond reasonable doubt" test.

              And, no, you don't "automatically" get a criminal record for breaking the law - you get a criminal record for being caught. Which he was.

              Oh, and btw - speeding is a non-recordable offence, so does not give rise to a criminal record.

              Honestly, there seems to be a singularity of denial around here today.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Yes, he did get a criminal record

          Because he was found guilty of committing a criminal act. That's been upheld on several appeals.


          Because it bloody well _WAS_ a criminal act. You might not like the law, but there's really not a lot of doubt that what he twatted was in breach of the law.

          Reminder - actual law...

          (1)A person is guilty of an offence if he

          (a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is ... of ...(a) menacing character

          The judge found the tweet to be of a menacing character. Appeal judges have agreed. Bomb threats against airports tend to be taken reasonably seriously. I can't think why. This shouldn't have come as a surprise to him.

          (Actually - correction to the previous post - he was actually only fined £385, with £600 costs.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You're confusing this bloke with the other bloke.

            ... and also missing the point about whether the law is:

            a) Being enforced over-enthusiastically;

            b) A good idea in the first place.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "He made a complete and utter tit of himself, and didn't have the humility to face the consequences."

        Worse still he initially entered a guilty plea and then changed his mind. While he has every right to do this, the court has every right to take this into account.

  3. SimonF


    At least he said "please"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd let him off

      On the grounds that he seems to be able to use twitter and spell, all at the same time.

      1. Matt 14

        Are you sure he can spell?

        Aren't there traditionally two apostrophes in "sha'n't"? </pedantmode>

  4. cannon
    Big Brother

    Police State Mind Control

    But its ok for the USA & UK to constantly threaten Iran & north Korea with annihilation publicity?

    remember ppl its only terrorism when they do it, our governments have the justification of bringing democracy (death & destruction) to anyone who doesn't play ball....

    1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

      Must have missed that

      ... David Cameron on his latest visit to China happened to mention the fact that he was "gonna nuke Iran and North Korea if they didn't get their shit together..."

      .. and now, the sport.

    2. mafoo


      remember, america is a republic, not a democracy.

  5. dogged


    --""I made an ill-conceived attempt at humour in response to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown saying on Radio 5 Live this morning, that no politician had the right to comment on human rights abuses, even the stoning of women in Iran..""--

    I think that's actually worse than his tweet. Bloody hell.

    1. adnim


      For what right does anyone have to comment on anything. Why do reporters have the right to report anything?

      Should we all sit back in silence and accept that human rights are non-existent under Sharia law, and that the stoning of women is perfectly acceptable?

      Quote from one of her articles: "Most of my good gay friends truly like femininity." Perhaps she would be stoned in a country where Sharia law prevails because of her tolerance of homosexuality. Would she then be so critical of the right of any person, not just politicians to comment on human rights issues.

      Silly woman.

  6. Chris Collins

    The reality machine

    So all I have to do is tweet "I have a huge cock, ladies come and get it" and I'll be crawling in snatch as everything in print is true? Or should I just do the David Koresh and say I'm the messiah. Does this work with grafitti?

  7. Mike Street

    I'm sympathetic

    ..because she is an annoying and frequently stupid person. He went too far, arguably, but an apology is all that was needed. Arresting him is completely OTT - Labour's thought-laws again in operation.

    I hope he hasn't any encrypted files that he can''t remember the key for...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not

      I have no sympathy for three reasons.

      Firstly because his apology was totally half arsed. He didn't really apologise, he simply said he never called for anybody to be stoned and was sorry if anybody had got upset. He clearly did call for a stoning, "will somebody please stone...?" is a pretty clear request.

      Secondly becuase an apology, no matter how sincere does not make everything alright in the first place. Can you think of any criminal offence where an apology will get the charges dropped?

      And finally because he's an idiot if he thinks that twitter postings are a private matter. There are two standard excuses when anybody is caught up to no good on twitter; The first is that the miscreant thought twitter was private; And the second is that the idiot had their twitter account hijacked. At least this particular twat didn't try the frankly unbelievable second option, but that doesn't stop him being an idiot.

      The problem with idiots and twitter is that they use it to post the sort of thing they would say in a private conversation. They need to learn that twitter is not a private conversation and that you have no expectation of privacy thereon.

    2. Marvin the Martian


      He did completely the wrong thing. He had choices enough, but most prominent seem (a) joke or (b) indignant shouting.

      (a) He's a conservative, they know that whenever they try to joke it's a failure or a disaster, so that's a stupid option. (b) This is a rhetorical goldmine, as her statement goes against the general feeling of the vast majority of the population.

      There's many rights and issues involved and she goes for a ridiculous blanket protection of states (rights of other countries and religions to differ from the UK and anglicanism) against individuals (equality rights and personal protections and justice), where the bulk will easily side with him over a well-phrased argument. He could have even got away with comparing it to Nazi or Communist suppression of freedom of speech.

      I'd also kick him out of the party, for being a hopeless orator. It's the one skill you ask of a local politician (that, and not breaking the law, e.g. through corruption, drunken driving, proposing stoning individuals, putting cats in bins; you know, laws in general).

  8. Dazed and Confused
    Big Brother


    has now been outlawed

    all attempts to induce mirth or mockery will hence forth result in the perpetrator being ...[censored]...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      So you're saying that tweet was funny? Go on then explaint the joke.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sticks & stones may break my bones...

    But words will only hurt me ........ when the come from he mouths or fingers of thoughtless or ignorant people. They may not directly hurt me; they can't after all. However, when taken up by morons, motivated by the malevolent, they can be used to insite in the most foul and evil way.

    I didn't here J A-B but I do hold tight to the belief that in this country we respect freedom of speech - with all its problems. Perhaps, like education, we don't respect it enough until we lose it or we observe the cost of its poor usage.

  10. Bernie Cavanagh

    Good Grief

    I'm beginning to think george Orwell was quite accurate with his predictions, he just buggered up on the date.

    1. Richard Wharram
      Thumb Up

      Orwell indeed

      1.) Stoning is ungood

      2.) Using humour to highlight this is ungood

      Classic doublethink.

      1. Veldan
        Thumb Up

        Nearly there...

        Close but 2) should read

        "Using humour to highlight this is double plus ungood"

        *note* why does the spell checker throw up a problem with humour having a 'u'? i thought this was a UK site, have we lost this to the yanks as well?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Nearly there

          It's your browser/OS that's doing the spell-checking, not the site; you need to change it to a UK English dictionary.

          (It's an add-on on Firefox if that's what you're using.)

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge


          The spell checker is part of your browser, not the site. Presumably you have the US dictionary installed!

        3. Marvin the Martian

          Using humour is OK for this.

          But his sad attempt worsened things (by point (1), now against a named individual).

          If a politician says something outrageous/wrong/... and meaning it all, then just pointing out they said it (through this "humour") doesn't do anything at all, it just summarizes.

          Twittering is just a hopelessly dangerous thing for politicians --- you can only refer to known stuff, maybe make a connection between two or three well-known things at most, so only possible reactions are "he says A and I think A/not-A so he's great/stupid", or "he says A and I think he's great/stupid so I now think A/not-A". This means people whose gut feeling about an issue differs from your opinion will think less of you --- while they may actually think more of you and/or change their feeling if you had had space to say why you think something on balance of all pros and cons.

          Hitler hated communism but that shouldn't make you like/dislike either of them.

    2. The Cube

      Orwell didn't realise but

      He was not making predictions, he was in fact authoring the implementation manual of the 21st century British police state. The politicians and police farce never realised that Orwell meant his work as a warning, they just thought "excellent, somebody has written a manual for us describing how to oppress the population and maintain our stranglehold on power".

      I am waiting for the OGC to republish 1984 as an approved government document, perhaps they can get BSI to turn it into a standard that they could use to audit departments with?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course, the Bible will have been in place in the court

    Which mentions stoning once or twice:

    For touching Mount Sinai

    Whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death. Exodus 19:13

    For taking "accursed things"

    Achan ... took of the accursed thing. ... And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. ... So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Joshua 7:1-26

    For cursing or blaspheming

    And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him. Leviticus 24:16

    For adultery (including urban rape victims who fail to scream loud enough)

    If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. Deuteronomy 22:23-24

    For animals (like an ox that gores a human)

    If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned. Exodus 21:28

    For a woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night

    If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her ... and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say ... these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. ... But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. Deuteronomy 22:13-21

    For worshipping other gods

    If there be found among you ... that ... hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them ... Then shalt thou ... tone them with stones, till they die. Deuteronomy 17:2-5

    If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers ... thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 13:5-10

    For disobeying parents

    If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother ... Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city ... And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 21:18-21

    For witches and wizards

    A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:27

    For giving your children to Molech

    Whosoever ... giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. Leviticus 20:2

    For breaking the Sabbath

    They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. ... And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones.... And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. Numbers 15:32-56

    For cursing the king

    Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. 1 Kings 21:10

    In contrast (and I stand to be corrected) i belive the stoning count in the Quran is zero.

    1. Veldan
      Big Brother


      This reads like George Orwells "0084"

    2. KnucklesTheDog


      I read that with some amusement, you can imagine a Simpsons episode set in biblical times where Homer is constantly being stoned for more and more trivial 'offences'.

      Then I remembered that a good proportion of the world's population actually take this crap seriously.

      And regarding the counsellor, it appears should a politician actually express a point of view that they give a toss about something they get arrested.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stoning with stones

      Can't help but chuckle at our oldy worldy language sometimes. Surely the word stoning implies the projectile well enough.

      Still, I guess it's good to be specific rather than, say, stoning them with badgers...

    4. Sooty

      don't forget

      Being stoned for saying "This halibut is good enough for Jehovah"

    5. Mephistro

      Sorry, the dog ate my title

      "For giving your children to Molech"

      Well, if that Molech is the same as Moloch, the Semitic god to whom children were sacrificed in furnaces, a little stoning would be a reasonable measure to promote responsible parenting. As for the rest... Why, oh why are we still using a fantasy book created by tribes of bronze age shepherds as a moral guide?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What the hell did they need to arrest him for? Did they seriously think he might intimidate witnesses or escape to South America or something?

    I'm giving the government a year to get rid of this stupid police state that New Labour created otherwise I'm ...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "John, what are you doing just pissing about on twitter?"

    "Err, Umm, Err, Yeah, looking for crime, boss!"

    "Found any?"

    "Well... Umm... This one here could be umm, offensive?"

    "You print it out, I'll start the car!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Don't you know how policing works? They won't have been sitting about on twitter looking for offensive posts. Somebody (lets all try to guess who) will have made a complaint.

      You sound like one of those eejits who does spouts the usual "why aren't the police out there trying to catch real criminals" crap that you always hear from people who get arrested for "minor" crimes. Why because somebody comitted a minor crime and somebody else called the police.

  14. JP19

    Time To Panic, Mr Gareth Compton

    Since they've just rejected Paul Chambers' appeal, does this mean Gareth Compton should be visiting his tailor for a suit with vertical arrows on it?

  15. Adrian Challinor

    When did Freedom of speech and expression get repealed

    Did I miss that law?

    So, she can say that a politician is wrong to comment and criticise stoning of women and human rrights abuses in Iran, thus implying (or even stating) that such acts have her approval. That almost sounds like incitement to me. But if a politician makes a humerous comment about how it might impact her, he is arrested.

    Right - Justice is having a real good week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We never had it.

      There have never been any laws protecting free speech or free expression in the UK. We only got rid of the crime of blasphemy a year and a bit ago.

      Now, we could certainly do with free speech legislation but it's not likely to happen.

      1. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge

        not true either literally or in substance

        Assuming he is in England or Wales, I refer the Right Honourable Gentleman to s.2 of the Human Rights Act (1998), which incorporated a number of articles of the European Convention on Human Rights into E&W law, particularly Article 10:

        "Article 10 – Freedom of expression

        Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers...

        "The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others..."

        1. Rogerborg

          The EHCR? Really?

          The "freedom of expression" it grants is so caveated that it boils down to "You can't criminalise free expression, unless it's to stop criminals from expressing themselves."

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Just the text you quoted says "Free speech unless it contains something someone else thinks it is wrong to say" - that is not free speech in any universe governed by logic.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Freedom of Expression

          Being free to express your ideas is not the same thing as being free to call for the stoning of an individual.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Out of touch

    This and the Paul Chambers case just go to show how out of touch much of 'the establishment' is when it comes to Twitter (and fb et al). Twitter is about firing off whatever you think at that particular moment and therein lies its appeal.

    Of course it was an offensive and stupid thing to say, but some of the reaction beggars belief. Sir George Young, the Leader of the House even had this to say in the Commons:

    "Stoning to death is a barbarous form of punishment which the government and I am sure every honourable member of this house deplores, and I hope that no elected person will threaten any member of our society with that sort of punishment."

    It's like they think he was seriously calling for her death. It's bizarre. You can almost imagine the clerk to old George before he answered: "It was an electronic message on the wire service known as Twitter, m'lud".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Extremely ill judged... attempt humour at someone with no sense of humour.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No wonder the rioters got away with trashing Tory head office in response to become the latest victims of the financial clampdown: the cops are too busy hunting down poor taste humour. Nice to see priorities correctly set.

    1. frymaster

      are you honestly saying...

      ...that chief constable Plod sat in his office and said "I could detail a couple more people to this protest, or I could send them to arrest an MP over a twitter message... let's do option 2"?

      It's different people on a different day from a different department. It really isn't an either/or thing.

      In any case, the current thinking is the police _COULD_ have deployed more people to cover the protest, but didn't expect it to kick off, and so didn't. Whether or not that was a good idea is open to question (though from what I hear, the people who started the trouble were rent-a-mob fodder not associated with the actual protest anyway)

    2. Arthur Jackson
      Big Brother

      Front page Photo

      Saw the front page photo in yesterdays Indie ( the 20p version ). One guy dressed in black kicking the widow of tory HQ, surrounded by an arc of photographers 3 deep, with a couple of uniformed police officers stood in the background, I thought it looked staged, then I spotted his nicely polished black boots ! cynical? me? nah

  19. Wyrdness

    Life imitiating satire?

    This could be right out of Private Eye's Neasden Central Police report, where the coppers in that (fictitious) cop shop will do everything possible to avoid having to arrest real criminals, whilst also being obsessed about political correctness.

  20. James Cullingham

    And all she originally said was

    that this halibut was good enough for Jehovah

  21. Anonymous John

    "I did not 'call' for the stoning of anybody,"

    Er, yes you did. Not seriously of course, but you did.

    1. Jason Hall


      And what I want to know is what's wrong with calling for someone to be stoned to death anyway?

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Wrong?

        I want to know what's wrong with you.

        1. peterrat

          Re:Re: Wrong?

          Nothing AFAICS

  22. HoverDonkey

    Didn't it used to be a very British thing... make light of tragic circumstances as a kind of coping mechanism? And isn't sarcasm and irony an integral part of our supposed national sense of humour?

    Surely people can detect sarcasm in a written sentence? Or is everything written in text "by law" supposed to be taken at literal face value nowadays?

    The thought police are alive and well and living (and ruling) in the UK.

    Where do we draw the line here? Is there even a line any more? What happened to common sense? Is the whole world going utterly mad?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      this is my title! there are many like it, but this one is mine!

      sarcasm doesnt translate well to text. its best spoken and in person, as the voice and body language are what makes it.

  23. Cheshire Cat


    This is as stupid a prosecution as the one about the airport. Well, a bit less stupid, as there was one specific person referred to and insulted, but its not a 'threat'

    If this guy gets off, but the airport tweeter is strung up, then it all goes to show how rotten the US system is these days.

    Glad I got out of the country as few years back...

  24. Cameron Colley

    Another reason to hate being british.

    I feel more and more depressed every day that I didn't take a language course while young enough to absorb it properly and that I foolishly thought being employable on this island of my birth would see me through to old age. The dogs have done with this country and it's now the cockroaches that are feeding off us.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    How about the context ?

    The comment needs to be put in context.

    She said that UK politicians have no right to comment on things like stoning of women in Iran, presumably because that's a Muslim thing and she's a "political correctness" extremist who would sooner allow an innocent teenager to die a horrible death than dare insult precious male Muslim feelings.

    Now his reply (tweet) makes sense

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Now his reply (tweet) makes sense"

      *IF* that's the context, and was what he meant, then he was right wasn't he?

      On the other hand, a UK politician who allows torture to illegally held prisoners, really does have no right to comment on other abuses until they get their house in order first?

  26. Anonymous Coward


    The fact that muslim clerics/individuals/concentsus dictating that any atheist should be instantly killed is not against the law, and is considered entirely sane + is protected by the previous governments new shiny equality bill - is a little bit discriminatory - non?

    I'm not saying he isn't twat for making a rather unfunny and unintelligent remark- but what else is twitter for (/cough Jason Mansford)?

    I'd just like some consistency applied to peoples comments. For every one insulting joke on twitter, there are thousands of serious ones bile filled ones- all far more grave than this.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      please add on apostrophe and 2 commas to my previous post

  27. Stephen 10


    It's a stupid, horrible, tasteless and thoughtless comment made by an idiot.

    But not a crime.

  28. LinkOfHyrule

    We need freedom of speech in this country

    We need freedom of speech in this country. I want the people of this country to say what they really feel without fear of prosecution . That way, the members or the Tory party will be able to spout off their true opinions of ethnic minorities, the poor etc and then maybe the public will wake up to the fact that they have voted in (well sort of voted, they didn't actually win did they) the most out of touch bunch of selfish scumbags we've seen since the last time they were in power!

  29. P. Lee

    re: Of course, the Bible will have been in place in the court

    What has this to do with the Bible or Quran? Anyone can extract quotes from context, as appears to be the case here.

    This is not about religion, this is about the repercussions of ill-conceived legislation. Had the original comment been suggesting that we shouldn't comment on stonings by atheists, it wouldn't have made any difference.

    Any attempt to stifle debate should be resisted. Let the journalist say what she thinks and let listeners (and politicians) form their own judgements and respond accordingly. Social engineering via legislating what speech is allowed is oppressive. We put up with the bad because that ensures that the good also survives. We have to accept a certain level of crime will exist if we don't lock everyone up.

    Trying to build utopia is a fools errand and many people will get hurt in the process. Toughen up and accept that you will be offended. It is not your right to prevent anyone offending you.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not what you say, it's how you say it

    The culprits have been collared under Section 127 of the Communications Act of 2003, which is a more encompassing manifestation of the Wireless and Telegraphy Act of 1904, which made it a crime to use the telephone for stalking or other forms of harassment.

    The relevant part of the Section reads ...

    A person is guilty of an offence if he —

    (a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

    (b) causes any such message or matter to be so sent.


    So, if you're going to threaten to blow up an airport, or call for someone to be stoned to death — even in jest — don't use a public electronic communications network. Instead, cut letters out of newspaper headlines, stick them on a piece of paper, and send it by Royal Mail.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Did someone say Jehova?

    no, no, no, no - NO, NO, NO!

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Obviously a case of incitement to murder

    "Who will rid me of this turbulant priestess?".

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So I guess hyperbole is officially banned by our UK thought police. What a shame, Twitter will become a much duller place for it.

    1. Martin
      Thumb Down

      Seems unlikely....

      ...I don't think ANYTHING could make twitter more dull and pointless than it is.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A fair cop?

    Looking at the copy of his tweet, I can see how it is offensive. Dunno if arrest is in order, mind. The lesson for him and all his kind (ie politicians) is that they are paid to think and to communicate effectively. Twitter ain't the way (and I'm not so sure about blogs, either).

    I don't know the full text of what the woman said to trigger this, but I would hope she was making the case that it is hypocrisy for politicians to condemn human rights abuses (DC please note). If she was making the case that politicians just "don't understand", so shouldn't comment, then it was a foolish thing to say. As long as it doesn't bring the cause into disrepute, I wouldn't care who spoke out in its favour, or why.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Bad news, everyone

    >"Or is everything written in text "by law" supposed to be taken at literal face value nowadays?"

    The current case law from the Chamber case says yes, it is. That's what the Judge Davies said, with only minimal paraphrasing. Section 127 is to be interpreted as a strict liability offence. Even though nobody claimed that Chambers had an intent to threaten, and nobody actually felt threatened, the mere possibility that some *theoretical* person *could* have felt threatened (maybe The Children) was enough to arrest, prosecute and convict him.

    Let's give that a moment to sink in.

  36. Ascylto
    Big Brother

    Oh Dear ...

    It's the fact that he is (or was) a Conservative Councillor, or a Councillor of any hue, that is really bothersome.

    I agree with Stephen 10 above.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    A vindictive response?

    I don't think he was advocating stoning anyone to death. He was actually pointing out the senselessness of such a punishment, especially if one is forbidden to criticise it. But if you have a really big chip on your shoulder, I guess you'd deliberately interpret what he said to his disadvantage, wouldn't you?

    Not wishing to be that vindictive in my own judgement, however, I guess mis-interpretation of English humour might follow from an inadequate grasp of the language.

  38. Jake Rialto 1

    Deja vu

    I moved to The Netherlands two years ago, and to be frank, I look at some of the things going on in the UK and sit here gob smacked.

    They are erroding your civil liberties daily chaps.

  39. Paul Slater


    All he had to do was put "j/k" at the end.

  40. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Too heavy-handed... but

    If the tables were turned and the avowedly muslim Ms. Alibhai-Brown had issued a "comedy" Fatwa on him, she'd have been in Gitmo with matching thumblocks quicker than you can say "illegal rendition".

    Anyway, he's a politician - if he's too stupid to figure out mouthing off in public isn't a good idea then I'm not sure he deserves his job.

  41. Francis Offord

    Sounds like HE was stoned

    What a pity, it is that members of parliament cannot remember their own utterances accurately. He should, by rights, be charged with false witness (to his own memories) tried in a court of law and punished to the total extent of the law. I bet that, instead, he will be sanctified by his party, rather in the manner that Brown was over his financial falsehoods, and booted upstairs. He should be booted somewhere, preferably in a tender place.

    1. dogged
      Thumb Down


      he's not an MP. Just a tory councillor.

      But nice try.

  42. tardigrade


    I have no problem with people making arses of themselves on twitter. A joke is a joke, even one that's in poor taste, and that's all it is and that's as far as it should go. Freedom of expression is an important pillar of Civilization.

    But I DO expect a Councillor in regional Government, someone who's salary is paid for by my tax contributions to maintain a certain level of public decorum!!!

    I you can't maintain that level, then stop taking the piss and find another job, you dunder headed wingnut.

  43. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Not funny

    "I disapprove of what you say, and I want to see you stoned to death for saying it."

    Now Voltaire is dead once and paraphrased twice.

  44. John Pavey

    Fascist state?

    About time the police got on with their job of protecting society from real dangers rather than oppressing normal humorous comments. They should grow up.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Offensive cuts both ways

    Common sense takes another long walk. Ms Alibhai-Brown has frequently made comments in her newspaper columns that cut pretty close to the bone - particularly on the issues of race or "Islamophobia". I'm frankly astonished she hasn't at the least been hauled up in front of the PCC for some of them, but since they are usually aimed squarely at the perceived (by Ms AB) attitudes of white British society, I shouldn't really be surprised her comments don't merit the same treatment as a public comment on ethnic minorities.

    Gareth Compton's remark is an idiotic attempt at humour and should have been treated as such, with something far short of arrest. If we really are going to tear up the idea of free speech in the UK, Ms Alibhai-Brown's constant drip of close-to-the-knuckle cheap generalisations and innuendo should be subject to the same scrutiny, because I personally find a great deal of it extremely insulting.

    On the other hand we -and especially the authorities - could all grow up and accept that people do make mistakes in the heat of the moment.

  46. Alan Lewis 1

    Oh for gods sakes

    "...of course it was an offensive and stupid thing to say..." Since when? Offensive to whom?

    I find it amazing that Hamza can encourage the beheading of white Christians, call for Jihad, etc, and not be arrested at the time. But tweet in obvious jest, and be arrested.

    And before the luvvies pipe up, please consider this about the PC brigade: Harriet Harman, so long preaching 'rights', 'correctness', 'equality', in public uses the phrase "ginger rodent" to refer to a political opponent.

    Unisons response is deafening. Why has she not been suspended from the party? Dual standards at play again, as her "apology" was obviously sincere.

    Maybe it simply wasnt a good day to release bad news...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "I find it amazing that Hamza can encourage the beheading of white Christians, call for Jihad, etc, and not be arrested at the time. But tweet in obvious jest, and be arrested."

      The issue here is almost certainly that somebody complained to the police. The police won't have been monitoring Cllr. Compton's tweets and decided to arrest him on seeing that tweet. Somebody will have complained to the police about the tweet, the police are then required to investigate.

      The problem with modern policing is that it seems to work on the "arrest first, ask questions later" principal. Time was that inspector knacker would question a suspect and then decide whether or not to arrest. These days it seems that it is standard practice to arrest somebody as soon as they receive a complaint and then release the suspect on bail. Maybe they need a new published KPI - percentage of arrests leading to a successful prosecution - that would make them think twice about arresting in this manner.

      I have to say in this case that I think the police are on shakier ground than they were with Chambers. In his case the tweet was a threat, albeit one that was not credible. In Compton's case he does not make a direct threat - he asks (politely) for somebody to stone somebody else. Is that a threat? Not as such. Is it menacing? Not as such. Is it a joke? Well it didn't make me laugh. Was it a sensible thing for a politician to do? Not at all.

      As such I'm not sure they will secure a conviction under the same laws as caught Chambers. I do however think they could still go for a conviction for something like Misconduct in Public office or similar. That would probably bar the twat from public office for a while as well as any other penalties.

      One or two twats around here have told me that the problem in this case and Chamber's case is that being limitted to 140 characters makes it difficult to establish context and to make it clear that something is a joke. I don't disagree with that, I do however disagree that the law should take this into account. It is the twats themselves who should take this into account and think carefully about how the post could be read.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Go on then, can one of Compton's supporters explain in what way this tweet was funny.

  48. Anteaus

    Political correctness = UK's version of Fundamentalism?

    While extremism in the Middle East is worrying, perhaps even more worrying is the development of extremist regimes of 'political correctness' here at home. I start to wonder about the state of mental health of officials who would actually go as far as arresting a person for making a joke.

    BTW a spot of Googling suggests that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a Muslim herself, is strongly opposed to extremist Sharia Laws. That begs the question of why she would be opposed to human-rights issues being extended to cover the acts of Fundamentalist regimes.

  49. Andus McCoatover

    Bible, indeeed...

    "If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her ... and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say ... these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. ... But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. Deuteronomy 22:13-21"

    How on earth did Mary, Jesus' mother get away with that one?? Remember, we're still in Old Testament terri(st)tory at this point. 'Course, this leaves the man without a wife, and he has to go through the whole (presumably expensive) thing all over again.

    I guess the damsels covered up by getting married at "that time of the month", which gives about a 1-in-4 chance of escaping.

  50. genome

    compare twitter to shouting it in the street

    shout in the street that you'll bomb the airport if your flights delayed? would you be arrested?

    shout in the street someone should be stoned? would you be arrested?

    your doing pretty much the same thing, just a different audience.

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