CPs to introduce guidance on when to prosecute in 'trolling' cases
The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir starmer has announced that the CPs will bring in guidelines as to when a prosecution should be brought against an individual accused of using social networking sites to send offensive messages. The announcement follows the decision not to prosecute Daniel Thomas, the semi-professional footballer, for posting a homophobic message on Twitter, relating to the Olympic divers Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield.
The Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to send a communication using a public electronic communications network if that communication is 'grossly offensive'. However, Mr starmer is conscious of the fact that approximately 350 million tweets are sent a day and that "...banter, jokes and offensive comment are commonplace and often spontaneous..."
In his statement Mr starmer indicated that where comments were grossly offensive, there were threats or there was a campaign of harassment that a prosecution would often be appropriate, but that in other instances it would not necessarily be the appropriate response. Mr starmer commented "If the fundamental right to free speech is to be respected, the threshold for criminal prosecution has to be a high one and a prosecution has to be required in the public interest."
The CPs is to publish draft guidelines ahead of a public consultation process.
A full copy of Mr starmer's statement can be found by following the below link:-
Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.