Sunday 25th September 2016                 Change text size:

Blogger reveals UKIP’s attempt to remove his ‘human right to free expression’



Photo: Euro Realist Newsletter via Flickr

A blogger who was asked by police to remove tweets in which he fact-checked a UKIP campaign poster has alleged the party tried to curtail his human right to free speech.

On Saturday, Michael Abberton was visited by two Cambridgeshire police officers. On his blog, Abberton describes how the officers told him he had committed no crime, admitting it was not a police matter, but still asked him to delete the posts. 

In particular, the police were concerned with one tweet containing a faked poster giving 10 satirical reasons to vote for UKIP, such as scrapping paid maternity leave and abandoning all action on climate change.

Although each claim on the poster was referenced by an official source, containing links only to official UKIP websites and the party’s EU voting record, Abberton was still asked to remove it.

When the officers left, Abberton was also told he could not tweet about the incident, thought the officers added they could do nothing to stop him. 

“I only realised what had actually happened after they had left”, Abberton said in an article written for the Guardian.

“If it wasn’t a police matter, and I had broken no law, why had they come to my home in the middle of the afternoon? It was alarming that a political party not even in office would seek to exercise this type of censorship and could wield such power.”

UKIP complained that Abberton – a member of the Green party – was impersonating and misrepresenting the party.

However, after his story went viral on the internet, Abberton said that UKIP’s attempt to suppress him had backfired.

“Thousands of people across the globe recognise this for what it undoubtedly is – a deliberate attempt by Ukip to curtail my human right to free expression; to silence dissent, to censor,” he said.

“The thing that oppressors throughout history have feared more than anything is a well-informed population able to discuss, challenge, and spread ideas in order to learn the truth for themselves.” 

Green party leader Natalie Bennett described the incident as “both disturbing and surprising”.

She said, “That an apparently general complaint from a political party about not liking what was said about them could have led to a police visit that many would find intimidating is an extremely serious incident that demands immediate investigation.” 

Jenny Jones, the party’s representative in the House of Lords, has called for home secretary Theresa May to review police procedures. 

Further reading:

Labour promises to repeal ‘gagging law’

Privy council to discuss royal charter on press regulation

Lobbying bill threatens charities’ free speech, says leading human rights lawyer

The Guide to Sustainable Democracy 2014


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