In the past, Hugo Swire has called citizen bloggers and activists (including Owl, East Devon Alliance and Claire Wright particularly) “a vile swamp”:
and called the same people “vile and libellous”:
and he has banned people he doesn’t like from his Twitter feed:
Now he has enthusiastically supported a parliamentary investigation of “hate crimes” towards MPs: Though it rather seems, from the examples above, that Swire conflates “hate crime” with criticism of him of any kind.
Does he have citizen journalists in mind in his statement below – or possibly only those he personally disapproves of?
His statement in Parliament:
“May I add my congratulations to Lord Bew on presiding over a typically balanced and well researched piece of work? When some time ago I asked my right hon. Friend’s then ministerial colleague, my hon. Friend Sarah Newton, what the figures for successful hate crime prosecutions were, she said that she did not have the figures to hand at the time. Although I very much welcome the tone of my right hon. Friend’s statement about looking again at the Crown Prosecution Service’s guidance and about more funding for local police forces to investigate digital crimes in particular, will she reassure me that both the CPS and police forces nationally and locally will take this more seriously and that we will see some successful prosecutions to warn off others who would follow in their wake?”
Question: is being called vile, libellous and a swamp dweller by Swire hateful and, if so, could it be classed as a digital crime?
Fortunately, Owl feels that the cut and thrust of political debate means that one must be prepared to take such terms on the chin and will not be contacting the police to complain.
Though, it does remind Owl of that rather difficult time when Claire Wright was reported to police by Councillor Phil Twiss when she said MPs should be culled and he took it to mean something nasty such as shooting at seagulls rather than a term used MANY times by his own party in general (and the then PM David Cameron in particular as Owl pointed out), to mean a simple reduction in numbers! It hit the national headlines at the time!
We must NEVER perpetuate hate crimes but we MUST retain free speech – its loss is the first aim of despots.