British legislators consider broadening hate crimes law after BNP acquittals

[JURIST] UK Chancellor Gordon Brown [official profile] called for broader race hate laws after a British jury Friday acquitted [JURIST report] two British National Party [official party website] (BNP) members Friday of inciting racial hatred. The charges stemmed from 2004 speeches in West Yorkshire, taped by the BBC, in which BNP leader Nick Griffin [BBC profile] calling Islam a "wicked, vicious faith" and senior aide Mark Collett [Wikipedia profile] referred to those seeking asylum as "a little bit like cockroaches." In February, the two men were cleared of similar charges, but the jury failed to reach a verdict on all charges [BBC report], which led to a second trial [JURIST report].

Also speaking in response to the acquittals, UK Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer told BBC Radio 4: "...we have got to demonstrate without compromising freedom that we are not [anti-Islam]." Liberal Democratic MP Evan Harris [personal website], however, warned that greater legislative restrictions could create "extremist martyrs." The 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act [text] makes it an offense to stir up hatred on religious grounds, but prosecutors must prove criminal intent rather than simply "recklessness." BBC News has more.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.