Tuesday 23 August 2011

Another Facebook Communications Act conviction. Sigh. FOI again.

There been another conviction under the Communications Act post UK riots, this time of an adult. Details here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/08/23/man-jailed-for-four-months-over-facebook-attempt-to-start-riots-in-bangor-91466-29288008/. This time, a custodial sentence of 4 months was handed out. I've submitted a query to CPS Wales as follows:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you seeking information about a case recently heard in the Magistrates’ Court at Caernarfon concerning 21 year old David Glyn Jones of Bangor, Gwynedd who has been charged and convicted of an offence involving an update he placed on his Facebook page on the 9th of August. The case has been reported here <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-14631184> and here <http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/08/23/man-jailed-for-four-months-over-facebook-attempt-to-start-riots-in-bangor-91466-29288008/>. It appears that the Facebook update was only live for 20 minutes.

Can you please explain why the Serious Crime Act 2007 was not applied as it had been in other similar cases around the same period of time? Also please give details about how the Full Code Test was applied in this case. I’m particularly interested in the evidential stage. Was the defendant advised by the CPS that he must enter a guilty plea under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 if he did not deny sending the offending communication? Given the fast track nature of this prosecution, I am requesting an expedited response please. Email responses are preferred. Thank you.

Matt Flaherty
In this case someone actually turned the poor guy in, but I'm still concerned that once again the Serious Crime Act was dismissed in favour of the Communications Act, which suggests that the CPS felt there was no need to prove intent under the latter. Although 2 weeks is considerably more time to prepare a defence than the 2 days allowed the unnamed defendant in the Bury St Edmunds case, it's still really not enough. Section 127 of the Communications Act is not well understood. A court appointed public defender is unlikely to be in a position to give good advice. On a personal note, I have never been more afraid for the health of free expression in Britain.

Here are the contact details for CPS Wales:

CPS Wales
20th Floor, Capital Tower
Greyfriars Road
Cardiff CF10 3PL

Telephone: 02920 803800
Fax: 02920 803802

Email: wales.communications@cps.gsi.gov.uk


  1. I will be blogging on all this again later this evening - saw your updates on Twitter but was not, then, in a position to respond.

    Time to fight I think...


  2. But is a long spell in prison really the way we should be dealing with offensive idiots. Buying Facebook Fans


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