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I found myself laughing out loud last week while reading
analysis of Scotland’s First Minister in the Daily Telegraph. “The love child of
a Bay City Roller and a donkey, the treacherous Queen of Scots” and Nicola
Sturgeon “couldn’t give a tartan duck about betraying 60 million of her fellow citizens”.
She “has an ego the size of an HGV strutting around like a puffed up pigeon.” To think that I was once told off here in Bexley by a Borough Police Commander for referring to the Council Leader as the Fat Controller!
I can imagine many a Bexley Conservative Councillor also laughing like drains at the verbal attack on the ginger dwarf but I found myself wondering why what Allison Pearson wrote is not harassment and why Bexley police thought that one of my year old blogs probably was.
I mentioned it to Elwyn Bryant and found he had wondered the same about a Telegraph cartoon published a few days earlier.
The reason that Allison Pearson’s words were not harassment and my words were considered to be criminal is simple. Councillor Don Massey told Bexley police what they should be thinking.
For the record this is what I said last May
It went on for a few more paragraphs but only to refer back to previous occasions on which Bexley police had danced to Bexley Council’s tune.
Those words provoked Bexley Cabinet Member Don Massey into having his local police station specially opened on a Sunday and three police officers then hot-footed it to my front door threatening arrest.
Fortunately my daughter is a journalist and one of her friends lectures in media law at a university. I was assured that my blog was nothing like harassment and the fact that the blurred image is of the Massey’s daughter was a total non-issue. It was freely available on the Massey’s Facebook page and the advice was that I need not have blurred it.
It took the police more than six months to come to the same conclusion and their excuse was that the rules on harassment evolve almost daily and it therefore made sense to jump straight in with the accusation and engage brains later.
On Christmas Eve I asked Bexley police how it was that they came to the conclusion that my words were borderline criminal and it was appropriate for them to be referred for expert legal opinion. They did not reply so I sent the same question to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner on 31st January 2017. His Assistant Commissioner quickly referred it back to Bexley police for an answer. On 3rd March Bexleyheath police advised me that I would get a response within seven to ten days.
I have no idea what excuse they will offer. My complaint is that it would only be reasonable to take action against me and issue threats if it was possible to argue that republishing information freely available elsewhere amounts to harassment or something close to it. Expert opinion is that it was miles away from crossing the line from which one might conclude that Bexley police has once again corruptly succumbed to political pressure.
Their choice would appear to be to admit that their response to Don Massey’s request was heavy handed and see the immediate end of the matter or argue that my words were close to being harassment and thereby ensure that the complaint is escalated as happened in 2012 - and still on-going.
Note: While writing the above Bexley police have apologised for not responding as quickly as they promised.