The letter of the law, not the spirit

Material produced and distributed by Ahmed Faraz ended up in the hands of almost every major terrorist in Britain.

Among his customers were Mohammed Sidique Khan, the leader of the July 7 bomb plot, and members of the trans-Atlantic airline gang, who cited his texts in their suicide videos.

Court of Appeal judges found the prosecution in his original trial had been wrongly allowed to rely on the fact that the books had been found in the homes of high profile terrorists, without there being any suggestion that the offenders had actually been encouraged by the books to commit their terrorist acts.

Faraz was convicted of 11 counts of possessing and disseminating terrorist publications at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court in 2011.

He was sentenced to three years in jail for running an operation to publish extremist texts and violent DVDs and distribute them around the world with the aim of \”priming” terrorists for action.

This conviction has now been quashed.

Which just goes to show how we can and should insist upon the letter of the law, not its spirit.

All Together Now!

If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.

28 thoughts on “The letter of the law, not the spirit”

  1. Why wasn’t he charged with plain vanilla incitement to violence? Why did our legislators have to dream up a law about publishing? (Which clearly doesn’t work.)

  2. Purely hypothetical of course, but if a group of anti-capitalists physically attacked a branch of Starbucks, and intimidated the staff a bit, and in doing so handed out leaflets explaining their actions, justified by lots of quotes from the Tax Justice Network, would that make Murphy liable to prosecution?

    Just wondering how the law works, you understand.

  3. Richard-

    I somewhat annoyed Mr Murphy during the Looting Craze, when I politely pointed out to him that I had heard an interview with a pair of looters on the BBC who had said something to the effect that since these big companies were avoiding taxes “we are only taking what’s ours”. By smashing their windows and stealing their TVs and sneakers.

    He wasn’t well pleased, it has to be said.

  4. What Robert Dammers said. (Any relation to Jerry one wonders?)

    The law doesn’t seem to protect the free speech of evangelical Christians who want to stand on street corners proclaiming their religion very much. But then they’re white middle class Christians so they don’t get the benefit of ‘uman rights like certain other sections of society do.

  5. UKLiberty,

    Why do you think that’s the correct metric?

    In Saudi, it’s illegal for women to drive cars (I think; if it isn’t just pretend it is for the sake of argument). Very few women are convicted of driving cars, because the law prevents them from driving cars. The question of how much some group’s liberty is reduced by the State is not necessarily well measured by criminal convictions.

  6. What are you talking about? There is a law in Saudi prohibiting women from driving. There is no law in the USA prohibiting white middle-class evangelical Christians from preaching on street corners.

    However, it is apparently acceptable for a Saudi woman to employ a male driver, so long as she breast-feeds him first.

  7. @UKliberty: none have been convicted as far as I can see, but it hardly matters. The process is the punishment. Street preaching on the sins of homosexuality (which seems to be the usual reason for arrests) may be technically legal, but you effectively have to prove yourself innocent by going through the process, which is a punishment of its own, with the arrest, the fingerprints and DNA being taken, and the detriment to having been arrested at all, in terms of potentially losing ones job, or failing some CRB check if you work with children etc etc. Plus the stress of waiting to find out if you are charged, and then a trial if you are. The law doesn’t protect these people from the police arresting them in the first place, despite it repeatedly being found to be perfectly legal. Their activities may be technically legal, but in practice its not worth the constant fight against the police and the criminal justice system.

  8. Ian B,

    Why do you think that’s the correct metric?

    Why do you suppose my question is about metrics instead of prompting Jim for evidence to support his view that Christians are worse off than “certain other sections of society”?

    Jim @10, AFAICT the same can be said of pretty much anyone. And no, I don’t think it’s right.

  9. IanB: My mistake, someone said something about the First Amendment…

    But equally, there’s no law in the UK prohibiting white middle-class evangelical Christians from preaching on street corners.

    I think there have been a couple of Christians arrested for preaching and leafleting against homosexuality: neither was prosecuted and both have received compensation, so the law seems to have protected them rather well.

    Whereas Ahmed Faraz had been in gaol for over a year.

    SE has just posted about the Shawn Holes case, which would have been under Scots law. I suppose he would have been protected too had he not been in such a hurry to leave the country.

  10. Paul B-

    Being arrested and eventually acquitted is not the law “protecting you”. It is actually a form of persecution, not least due to the rapidly-forming cliche, “the process is the punishment”.

    Even if you are not even charged, but merely held for a few hours and then released, it is still not only scary but has also confounded your free intention to spend some time preaching (or whatever); one can at least see this as state harrassment.

    Think of it this way; if a black man is arbitrarily arrested off the street on vague suspicion of something or other, then released some hours later after time in the cells, due you seriously think he would feel “protected” by the law? He would feel (rightly) harrassed and persecuted, wouldn’t he?

  11. To me, a central point is this. The law works rather well when it does its tradtional job of asking the question, “did the person in the dock commit the crime?”. There is this principle, corpus delicti, that a crime must first have been shown to have been committed before someone can stand trial for it, an eminently sensible principle that besides preventing arbitrary prosecution on hearsay and rumour, enshrines this idea that some specific thigns are crimes and people should be punished for them.

    Unfortunately, Progressive ideology has saddled us with a whole slew of “crimes” in which the court does not decide “did person X commit crime Y?” but instead has to decide “did the actions of person X (which are not in doubt) constitute a crime at all?”.

    This kind of law inescapably demonstrates its natural injustice by admitting that these crimes are ones that the citizen cannot know whether or not he has committed by committing particular acts. Being censorship obsessed as I am, I will use the example of “obscenity”. There is no fixed definition of obscene. If somebody publishes a photograph, and the police say it is obscene, neither of them can actually know whether it is obscene, which is in the arbitrary judgement of a later trial.

    It should be a basic principle of just law that every citizen of sound mind should be able to clearly know before committing an act whether it is legal or not. Progressive law has removed that simple certainty from our behaviours. We have to guess what somebody else in power, or a jury, might think at a future date is a crime. No citizenry of a free society sholud be placed in such a state of permanent, arbitrary jeopardy.

  12. ukliberty-

    Why do you suppose my question is about metrics instead of prompting Jim for evidence to support his view that Christians are worse off than “certain other sections of society”?

    Because the evidence you are asking for is a metric.

  13. I agree with you that people are not at liberty to stand on street corners and state that homosexuals are sinners.

    Well, yes, unless they is Musslemen …

    Now, I don’t think that poovery is particularly any more sinful than the other aspects of the wide gambit of human fooling around with each other’s naughty bits. But I do think that people should be able to say it is.

  14. Ian B: you should know by now that if the police repeatedly arrest someone from an ethnic minority and then release them without charge that’s evidence of police brutality and institutional racism, no matter what that person may or may not have done.

    If on the other hand they repeatedly (definitely illegally in some cases) arrest white Evangelical Christians and then release them without charge, thats OK, because Evangelical Christians are evil people who deserve to be harassed for their utterly wrong beliefs.

  15. Ian B: do I think he would feel protected by the law? Yes, if he was awarded compensation by the courts, I think he would.

    We’ve got a bad law – section 5 of the Public Order Act – which the police on two occasions in 2010 interpreted over-zealously with regard to public preaching and leafleting against homosexuality. On both occasions the courts awarded compensation to the man arrested. The police seem to have learnt from this. This is not an example of systematic oppression.

    The Shawn Holes case was under the Scottish Breach of the Peace Law, which is a horrid illiberal thing and a fitting target for your ire.

  16. Ian B>

    Amongst the strange notions in your head appears to be that the police aren’t a bunch of cunts. Will it make you feel better to realise that in fact they are odious cunts who behave exactly as they can be expected to behave given their incentives?

    Anyone who cries ‘racism’, be they black, brown, white, or green, throws the police into a tizzy at the moment, and the stupid jobsworths behave accordingly. How do cunts behave when faced with a problem? They take care of themselves, and screw the rest.

  17. Amongst the strange notions in your head appears to be that the police aren’t a bunch of cunts.

    I have no idea why you would think that. I don’t really know what point you are trying to make, to be honest.

    Whatever, the pertinent question, surely, is why we have laws that actively encourage the police to be a bunch of cunts.

  18. “the police on two occasions in 2010 interpreted over-zealously with regard to public preaching and leafleting against homosexuality.”

    As recently as last February year Michael Overd was taken to court (and acquitted fortunately) for street preaching on homosexuality in Taunton ( He didn’t get any compensation.

    Other cases of arrests or threatened arrests in previous years include those of Paul Shaw (Feb 2010), Miguel Hayworth (Aug 2009) and Andy Robertson (2008).

  19. “a bad law – section 5 of the Public Order Act”

    The Waddington Amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (section 29JA) specifically exempts religious discussions of sexual orientation from the hate speech provisions, but that doesn’t seem to stop the police arresting people for something that isn’t a crime.

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