By Andrew Brons.
We are used to UKIP being immune to criticism in the mainstream media. However, it appears now that it is to have immunity from criticism on social networking sites.
A member of the Green Party, Mr. Michael Abberton sent a series of tweets (no I don’t know what they are either) in which he questioned statements by UKIP. Somebody from UKIP then complained to the police in Cambridgeshire who visited Mr. Abberton at his home. There was never any question of Mr. Abberton’s tweets being illegal and the police told Mr. Abberton that.
If a person complains to the police about the conduct of another and it is clear that the conduct of that other person was not a criminal offence, the proper response of the police is clear. They should tell the complainant that no criminal offence has been committed and the matter should end there.
The only possible object of the police visit to Mr. Abberton’s house was intimidation.
I cannot believe that this visit was inspired by the Pro-UKIP sympathies of an isolated officer. It would seem that the officer in question had misunderstood an instruction from above and interpreted it too widely. I suspect that an instruction has been issued at the highest level for officers always to respond to attacks (i.e. physical attacks) on UKIPPERS and to prosecute the attackers. This officer thought he was expected to respond to verbal attacks too – even if no offence had been committed.
There would be nothing wrong with the police prosecuting people who launch physical attacks on UKIP except that it should apply to anybody or party attacked and not just UKIP. Specifying one particular party implies that there should not necessarily be such a response in the case of other parties being attacked. We know that from the physical attack on me and my former colleague, on College Green, opposite Parliament, in June 2009, just after our election. There was a police presence across the road. They witnessed metal darts being thrown at us but remained where they were and did precisely nothing – presumably because that is what they had been told to do.