UK AG examining whether new hate law will fill 'gap' exposed by BNP acquittals

[JURIST] UK Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith [official profile] said Tuesday in an interview [recorded audio] on BBC Radio 4 that he wants to examine whether new religious hate legislation [JURIST report] passed in Parliament earlier this year and scheduled to come into force in February could fill a "gap" in existing law supposedly pointed up by Friday's acquittals of two British National Party officials [JURIST report]: "...it's absolutely right that we should be looking at that new law, but it's important to recognize that this wasn't the law that was being used in this prosecution. I think this prosecution shows that there is a gap in the law and we need to look to see whether the new law is going to fill that gap or not." Over the weekend, British Chancellor Gordon Brown [official profile], seen as likely to succeed current prime minister Tony Blair, also called for broader race hate laws in response to the acquittals.

The original charges stemmed from 2004 speeches in West Yorkshire, taped by the BBC, in which BNP leader Nick Griffin [BBC profile] called Islam a "wicked, vicious faith" and senior aide Mark Collate [Wikipedia profile] referred to people who seek 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]. 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.



 

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