Therefore not an offence

Vandalism or termination of a hate crime?

THE Attorney General is considering referring the case in which four people were cleared of tearing down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston to the Court of Appeal.

Suella Braverman said the verdict is causing “confusion” and she is “carefully considering” whether to use powers which allow her to seek a review so senior judges have the chance to “clarify the law for future cases”.

The verdict prompted a debate about the criminal justice system after the defendants – dubbed the Colston Four – opted to stand trial in front of a jury and did not deny involvement in the incident, instead claiming the presence of the statue was a hate crime and it was therefore not an offence to remove it.

It’s not difficult to see some perils in that argument. Trans “activists” could claim that a feminist march is a hate crime and it’s therefore not an offence to disrupt and bully it, to take just one example. On the other hand do the Tories think of the destruction of the Berlin Wall as an offence or crime?

But the prosecution said it was “irrelevant” who Colston was and the case was one of straightforward criminal damage.

Well…what if the statue had been of Hitler? Or Stalin? Or Slobodan Milošević? How about a statue of General Dyer in Amritsar?

Joanna Cherry, the QC and SNP MP, said “possible confusion” would not provide a legal basis for the sort of referral Braverman is looking at – saying there would need to be an error of law identified that required clarification.

“The petty and ill-informed attacks on the Colston jury verdict which we have seen from Tory MPs are on par with the attacks on the judiciary we saw at the height of the Brexit crisis.

“Politicians should not question jury verdicts just because they don’t like them, that is damaging to the separation of powers and the rule of law.”

At any rate I can’t muster much concern about the welfare of a statue of a slave trader.

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