My excuse is that I haven't been blogging much. Normally, I do chip in when there's a "We are all Spartacus" call on behalf of a blogger, and so do many people from left and right. Normally.
For some reason, the only places I've seen the case of the Reverend Stephen Sizer mentioned have been left of centre blogs. So, in case you haven't heard about it yet:
At 10am on Sunday 29th November 2009, I received a visit from two policemen regarding my activities in running the Seismic Shock blog. (Does exposing a vicar’s associations with extremists make me a criminal?, I wondered initially). A sergeant from the Horsforth Police related to me that he had received complaints via Surrey Police from Rev Sizer and from Dr Anthony McRoy – a lecturer at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology – who both objected to being associated with terrorists and Holocaust deniers.Sizer then used the incident to try to intimidate another blogger:
Dear Vee,But here's what I find the most chilling part of the account:
You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.
The sergeant made clear that this was merely an informal chat, in which I agreed to delete my original blog (http://seismicshock.blogspot.com) but maintain my current one (http://seismicshock.wordpress.com). The policeman related to me that his police force had been in contact with the ICT department my previous place of study, and had looked through my files, and that the head of ICT at my university would like to remind me that I should not be using university property in order to associate individuals with terrorists and Holocaust deniers (I am sure other people use university property to make political comments, but nevermind).An informal chat? What does that mean?
Are we to take it that if a complaint of defamation is made to them, police officers will contact a person's employer, visit that person, reach an agreement that they will delete a blog in its entirety, that they will do all this informally?
This is "informal" as in "the police have no jurisdiction"; defamation is a civil matter in which the police have no role, at least at the stage where nothing more has happened than a complaint from the aggrieved party.
Yet they still act to censor and intimidate a writer. This, entirely extra-judicial, harassment is a far greater worry than our current, infamous, libel laws. At least they involve court appearances and take place within the rule of law.