Monday, 12 May 2014

Wasting Police Time

From Cambridge News by RAYMOND BROWN:

Fury after Cambridge man gets police visit for tweeting list of UKIP policies

Ukip list

A Cambridge man has been visited by police after he posted a spoof UKIP policy list on Twitter.

Michael Abberton posted the tweet on Monday last week, and was then visited by officers from the Cambridgeshire force on Saturday.

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has backed the Green Party member’s right to tweet the list.

Officers said they had received a complaint from an unknown party after the message was retweeted hundreds of times.

Mr Abberton explained on his blog how he was visited by two officers after he re-posted the list on the social network of policies proposed by UKIP candidates.

He wrote: “I’ve written about different things and different people, but surprisingly for a blog (which, let’s face it, is pretty much the archetype of vanity publishing) I’ve never written anything about me. Until now.

“They asked me to ‘take it down’ but I said I couldn’t do that as it had already been retweeted and appropriated, copied, many times and I no longer had any control of it (I had to explain to one of the officers what Twitter was and how it worked). They said that they couldn’t force me to take it down anyway.

“I asked if I could tweet about the visit. The straight answer was ‘no’, as this might appear prejudicial in light of the upcoming election and the police must appear to remain neutral. But they couldn’t stop me from doing so, as I had Freedom of Speech. Incredulously, I said, “...but you must realise how this looks!” One shrugged, the other looked embarrassed.

“As they were getting up to leave I asked for clarification - was this in relation to possible copyright infringement - and they were very clear on that point. It wasn’t, and they didn’t see how it could be. And even if it were, again it would not be a police but a civil matter.”

Dr Huppert has called for an investigation into why the force got involved. He said: 

I have huge concerns about this issue because Mr Abberton had the right to freely express his opinion and I cannot see what law he may have broken.

I have taken this matter up with Cambridgeshire Police Superintendent, Vicky Skeels, Area Commander for Cambridge asking her to carry out an urgent investigation.

I want to know why they sent two police officers to Mr Abberton’s home to investigate his tweet which criticised UKIP’s policies.

And I also want her to explain under what powers they asked Mr Abberton to remove his tweet and why he should not tweet about their visit.
A police spokesman said: 
We were called with a complaint about a message on social media at about 12.40pm on Friday. Enquiries were made as to whether any offences had been committed under the Representation of the People Act but none were revealed and no further action was taken.

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