Lord Vinson, The Freedom Association's Patron, recently asked the Government in a written Parliamentary Question "what plans they have, if any, to review the definition used by the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to identify religiously motivated incidents or crimes, in particular regard to the relevance of section 29J of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006".
Here is the answer given by Baroness Williams of Trafford, a Home Office Minister:
"It is for the police, prosecutors and the courts to determine how to apply the legal provisions relevant to religiously motivated hate crimes.
"The Law Commission has been commissioned by the Government to undertake a review of the legislation related to hate crime. The Law Commission are scheduled to conduct a public consultation this spring as part of this, and to report to Ministers in early 2021".
This is a welcome step forward, and I hope that the Law Commission will contact Kevin O'Sullivan. The former TV critic and radio show host had to endure a 20-month ordeal after falsely being accused of a homophobically motivated common assault. It cost him £15,000 to clear his name. You can read his shocking story here.
Lord Vinson has submitted a further question asking the Government "whether it is possible that a hearsay remark, if construed by a bystander as offensive, could be reported as a hate crime and the perpetrator interview by the police as a result, and if so, what steps do they intend to take to protect free speech?”
We will publish the minister's answer.
Photo © David Hillas (cc-by-sa/2.0)