With respect to the Public Order Act 1986 Section 5

Now, a campaign to overturn the Act’s deadly Section 5 has brought together an unlikely coalition of Right and Left politicians, libertarians and social conservatives, under the inviting banner: “Feel free to insult me”.

The challenge is to do so more amusingly, more cuttingly but not necessarily more coherently than late night Arnald.

Have at it.

7 thoughts on “With respect to the Public Order Act 1986 Section 5”

  1. My personal favourite is from the Australian parliament.

    Sir Winton Turnbull: “I am a Country member!”
    Gough Whitlam, interjecting: “I remember!”

  2. “Tim Worstall” is an anagram of “small wit rot.” That should be all Arnald and Ritchie need to counter anything written here, I think.

  3. Comments on your blog aren’t covered by section 5 because they aren’t in a public place.

    It appears to be section 127 of the Public Communications Act “Improper use of public electronic communications network.”:


    Sending a message of a “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”. “Indecent” is a low bar, and obviously incorporates sexting and chatroulette, and as we have seen with Paul Chambers, so is “menacing”. The whole section should be got rid of, and any associated problem handled under the laws of nuisance and harrasment.



  4. >Comments on your blog aren’t covered by section 5 because they aren’t in a public place.

    In what way? Anyone with a net connection can come and gawp at it… just as if I were to paint something on the front wall of my private house.

    Given that people keep getting prosecuted for stupid drunken rants on facebook (which are normally restricted to who can see them to groups of <10,000 people, based on "friends of friends" type settings), and the legal system treats that as public, I'd say Tim's blog is definitely public.

    That said, depending where it's hosted, given Tim's country of residence, I'm not sure if it would be deemed out of their jurisdiction.

  5. Worstall is himself neither a racist nor a climate-change denier, and he may not be a sexist, but he does delight on his blog in encouraging his many knuckle-dragging readers to give vent to their prejudices. One is reminded of the conceited Emperor Caligula, who may neither have enjoyed ludi circenses nor despised the plebs, but did not hesitate when the games started to drag to have members of the crowd thrown to the lions for his amusement.

  6. @TheProle, show me a prosecution for Facebook rants under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. On Google I can find prosecutions under sections 44 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act, and the 1997 Harassment Act, but none for Section 5 for the simple reason that Section 5 requires not publication, but actually being “in a public place”.

    The nominal purpose of Section 5 is to prohibit “fighting words” which is OK and pretty much a universal law, (even in the US with their First Amendment), but it goes far beyond that.

    Seciton 127 of the Public Communications Act is a much more serious problem in my opinion.

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