MEP Daniel Hannan believes opposing candidate's arrest was wrong

Daily Echo: Police officers speaking to Liberty GB candidate Paul Weston Police officers speaking to Liberty GB candidate Paul Weston

A EUROPEAN MP is claiming the arrest of a candidate standing against him in the up and coming elections was the sort of “political arrest” usually seen in oppressive regimes.

South East MEP Daniel Hannan says while he believes Liberty GB candidate Paul Weston’s comments were rude, arresting him on suspicion of religious and racial harassment was “a disproportionate act of policing”.

During a speech through a megaphone, Mr Weston had been reading a Winston Churchill quote describing Islam as “militant” and “retrograde” outside Winchester’s Guildhall last Saturday afternoon.

Standing on the steps of the Guildhall, he addressed passers-by with an excerpt from former Prime Minister Churchill’s book The River War, written in 1899 while he was a British Army officer in the Sudan.

Police were then called after complaints from members of the public, and the 50-year-old, from Dorset, was told to disperse but failed to do so. But while Tory Mr Hannan believes his opponent’s comments were “unpleasant” and “deliberately provocative”, they were not breaking the law and arresting him was undemocratic.

He said: “In retrospect it was a disproportionate act of policing. I did not think I lived in a country where a candidate for public office could be arrested at a husting because someone objected to what he said.

“It is far from clear to me what law was broken here. It was bad manners, but that is not the same as being against the law.

“I am not sticking up for Mr Weston, but the principle that a candidate in a democracy should be allowed to say whatever he wants.”

Mr Hannan is now calling on Hampshire’s police commissioner Simon Hayes, as an elected leader of the police, to make his position on the arrest clear. He said: “I think there is a real question of whether or not taxpayers in Hampshire want their police to be focusing on this kind of thing or catching criminals?”

Mr Hayes said people have the right to debate in public, but said there needed to be a “level of decorum and decency”.

He said: “Hampshire Constabulary has an obligation to ensure action is taken if decency or safety is put at risk and, if there is any reason to suspect they have intervened unnecessary, this will be investigated.”

Mr Hayes added he understood that Mr Weston was not specifically arrested for reciting the Churchill quotes. Mr Weston is one of three Liberty GB candidates standing to represent the South East as MEPs.

His party’s six-point manifesto argues for a “rejection of the notion of Britain as a global no-man’s land upon which any of the world’s teeming millions may lay claim” and the upholding of “Christian ethics and Western civilization”.

Comments (7)

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1:33pm Thu 1 May 14

St.Ray says...

And Muslim "Hate Preachers" continue to walk free after spouting their anti Christian abuse in all corners of the UK. The UK is becoming an Anti Christian state
And Muslim "Hate Preachers" continue to walk free after spouting their anti Christian abuse in all corners of the UK. The UK is becoming an Anti Christian state St.Ray
  • Score: 18

1:50pm Thu 1 May 14

skeptik says...

This should be taken above one religion agin another - the principle is wrong. Democracy means we have to accept the views of others or it is not a democracy. That two plastic cops and two para military officers knew what is allowed is debatable too. I would be taking legal instruction about wrongful arrest and prevention of canvassing - if he has been prevented then the election should be called off and re-run -with costs against the rather stupid constabulary.
This should be taken above one religion agin another - the principle is wrong. Democracy means we have to accept the views of others or it is not a democracy. That two plastic cops and two para military officers knew what is allowed is debatable too. I would be taking legal instruction about wrongful arrest and prevention of canvassing - if he has been prevented then the election should be called off and re-run -with costs against the rather stupid constabulary. skeptik
  • Score: 4

2:24pm Thu 1 May 14

Orwell's Ghost says...

An election candidate quoting a writer who won an Nobel prize for literature and defeated Nazi Germany is now an arrestable offence. However, Anjem Choudary is free to preach hate wherever and whenever he chooses whilst the police force facilitate his freedom of speech. Christianity can be insulted and mocked openly, yet the slightest criticism of Islam will get you arrested. The legal system in this country works on an apartheid basis. Freedom, if it is to mean anything at all, must include the freedom to offend. I'm offended my the sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism from hate preachers, yet the State do nothing to protect my feelings. Equality under the law? Not any more.
An election candidate quoting a writer who won an Nobel prize for literature and defeated Nazi Germany is now an arrestable offence. However, Anjem Choudary is free to preach hate wherever and whenever he chooses whilst the police force facilitate his freedom of speech. Christianity can be insulted and mocked openly, yet the slightest criticism of Islam will get you arrested. The legal system in this country works on an apartheid basis. Freedom, if it is to mean anything at all, must include the freedom to offend. I'm offended my the sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism from hate preachers, yet the State do nothing to protect my feelings. Equality under the law? Not any more. Orwell's Ghost
  • Score: 11

3:51pm Thu 1 May 14

MPOV says...

The article says he was asked to disperse and refused to do so. Sounds like a dispersal order he was arrested for, as opposed to anything else, therefore it was his choice in proving a point. Problem is, if people are offended by what somebody says or displays its an offence. The police (even the plastic ones) have a duty to act upon complaints from the public, tax payers, victims of crime, etc.
The article says he was asked to disperse and refused to do so. Sounds like a dispersal order he was arrested for, as opposed to anything else, therefore it was his choice in proving a point. Problem is, if people are offended by what somebody says or displays its an offence. The police (even the plastic ones) have a duty to act upon complaints from the public, tax payers, victims of crime, etc. MPOV
  • Score: -6

3:53pm Thu 1 May 14

From the sidelines says...

You didn't think you still had freedom of speech, did you?

The state, through its agents, controls what can be discussed, and permits robust discussion across a limited range of permissible subjects. You mistake this for freedom, yet step outside the realm of permissible subjects and you can see the state's violent response.

Quite why the subject of individuals' superstitions, religions, or any other belief that is only sustained through faith, should be protected from discussion, investigation or criticism by 'religious harassment' legislation is a subject all of its own. However, a religion, being the 'opium of the people', serves a purpose for the rulers in distracting the population from thinking about the oppression and exploitation against which they may otherwise rebel.

By the way, how can one person disperse?
An individual can leave, a crowd can disperse, but to ask an individual to disperse shows a lack of comprehension of the English language.
You didn't think you still had freedom of speech, did you? The state, through its agents, controls what can be discussed, and permits robust discussion across a limited range of permissible subjects. You mistake this for freedom, yet step outside the realm of permissible subjects and you can see the state's violent response. Quite why the subject of individuals' superstitions, religions, or any other belief that is only sustained through faith, should be protected from discussion, investigation or criticism by 'religious harassment' legislation is a subject all of its own. However, a religion, being the 'opium of the people', serves a purpose for the rulers in distracting the population from thinking about the oppression and exploitation against which they may otherwise rebel. By the way, how can one person disperse? An individual can leave, a crowd can disperse, but to ask an individual to disperse shows a lack of comprehension of the English language. From the sidelines
  • Score: 0

5:01pm Thu 1 May 14

Orwell's Ghost says...

MPOV wrote:
The article says he was asked to disperse and refused to do so. Sounds like a dispersal order he was arrested for, as opposed to anything else, therefore it was his choice in proving a point. Problem is, if people are offended by what somebody says or displays its an offence. The police (even the plastic ones) have a duty to act upon complaints from the public, tax payers, victims of crime, etc.
As From The Sidelines states, how is it possible for an individual to disperse? The police fail to stop hate preachers, yet arrest Christian street pastors for disapproving of homosexuality. The State has politicised the Police force and gets it to suppress opinions it disapproves of.
[quote][p][bold]MPOV[/bold] wrote: The article says he was asked to disperse and refused to do so. Sounds like a dispersal order he was arrested for, as opposed to anything else, therefore it was his choice in proving a point. Problem is, if people are offended by what somebody says or displays its an offence. The police (even the plastic ones) have a duty to act upon complaints from the public, tax payers, victims of crime, etc.[/p][/quote]As From The Sidelines states, how is it possible for an individual to disperse? The police fail to stop hate preachers, yet arrest Christian street pastors for disapproving of homosexuality. The State has politicised the Police force and gets it to suppress opinions it disapproves of. Orwell's Ghost
  • Score: 6

5:02pm Thu 1 May 14

rickey says...

MPOV wrote:
The article says he was asked to disperse and refused to do so. Sounds like a dispersal order he was arrested for, as opposed to anything else, therefore it was his choice in proving a point. Problem is, if people are offended by what somebody says or displays its an offence. The police (even the plastic ones) have a duty to act upon complaints from the public, tax payers, victims of crime, etc.
From the BBC.

He was detained after failing to comply with a request by police to move on under the powers of a dispersal order.
He was further arrested on suspicion of religious or racial harassment.
Mr Weston, 50, from Dorset, had been reading from Churchill's book The River War.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: "The dispersal order was issued following complaints from members of the public about the man's behaviour."

Re dispersal orders.
Two conditions will need to be met for a dispersal order to be given. Firstly, the officer has to have reasonable grounds to suspect that the behaviour of the person has contributed or is likely to contribute to, members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed, or the occurrence of crime or disorder. Secondly, the officer has to consider that giving a dispersal order to the person is necessary for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of ASB, crime or disorder.

Its a very slippery slope when the Police or one member of the Public is able to dictate what a campaigning politician can or cannot say. If we are only allowed the freedom to speak without offense then there is no freedom.
[quote][p][bold]MPOV[/bold] wrote: The article says he was asked to disperse and refused to do so. Sounds like a dispersal order he was arrested for, as opposed to anything else, therefore it was his choice in proving a point. Problem is, if people are offended by what somebody says or displays its an offence. The police (even the plastic ones) have a duty to act upon complaints from the public, tax payers, victims of crime, etc.[/p][/quote]From the BBC. He was detained after failing to comply with a request by police to move on under the powers of a dispersal order. He was further arrested on suspicion of religious or racial harassment. Mr Weston, 50, from Dorset, had been reading from Churchill's book The River War. A Hampshire police spokesman said: "The dispersal order was issued following complaints from members of the public about the man's behaviour." Re dispersal orders. Two conditions will need to be met for a dispersal order to be given. Firstly, the officer has to have reasonable grounds to suspect that the behaviour of the person has contributed or is likely to contribute to, members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed, or the occurrence of crime or disorder. Secondly, the officer has to consider that giving a dispersal order to the person is necessary for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of ASB, crime or disorder. Its a very slippery slope when the Police or one member of the Public is able to dictate what a campaigning politician can or cannot say. If we are only allowed the freedom to speak without offense then there is no freedom. rickey
  • Score: 5

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