- Man named locally as Linford House, 19, from Kent was arrested on suspicion of an offence under the Malicious Communications Act
- The image of a Royal British Legion paper poppy being held to a cigarette lighter was posted online
Police have arrested a young man after a picture of a burning poppy was posted on Facebook. The man, named locally as Linford House, 19, was arrested on Remembrance Sunday after the image of a Royal British Legion paper poppy being held to a cigarette lighter was posted online. Underneath was written: ‘How about that you squadey (sic) c****.’
A man, named locally as Linford House (pictured right), 19, was arrested yesterday after the image (left) appeared online. The words on the right image have been written on by a third party, who posted it online. Kent police confirmed that a 19-year-old man, from Aylesham, Kent, was arrested on suspicion of ‘malicious telecommunications’ on Sunday and remains in custody.
Police said they were contacted at 4pm on Sunday just hours after an Armistice Day service was held in the suspect’s village. The picture was spotted online before a number of calls were made to police. Naked pictures from the suspect’s social media pages were posted as a wave of public anger appeared to mount against him following the allegations.
House is said to be a keen sportsman and a member of the Snowdown Colliery Rugby Football Club, where his father Keith is club captain, according to its website. Chairman Jim Ritson said: ‘Firstly, he [Linford House] was not representing the club in any way when he put the picture online. ‘He was drunk at the time and it is not something we condone at all. He has always been a very dedicated rugby player and always seemed like a great lad.
‘As a club we will be meeting up to discuss the matter and to discuss how we deal with the situation.’ Previous incidents of poppy burning have seen defendants mount a defence of freedom of expression based on European human rights laws. The move has prompted a Twitter outcry with users criticising police for ‘abusing civil liberties’. The Facebook profile for the user has now been removed. A Kent Police spokesman said officers would interview the man this morning. He said: ‘A man is due to be interviewed by police this morning following reports that a picture of a burning poppy had been posted on a social media website.
Emdadur Choudhury (right), a member of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), was found guilty of burning replica poppies during a two-minute silence on Remembrance Day. ‘Officers were contacted at around 4pm yesterday (Sunday, 11 November 2012) and alerted to the picture, which was reportedly accompanied by an offensive comment. ‘Following an investigation by Kent Police a 19-year-old Canterbury man was arrested on suspicion of an offence under the malicious communications act. He is currently in custody.’
David Allen Green, a journalist and lawyer for the New Statesman, tweeting as Jack of Kent, wrote: ‘Dear idiots at @kent_police, burning a poppy may be obnoxious, but it is not a criminal offence.’ He added: ‘What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by Kent Police for burning a poppy?’
Australian musician and comedian Tim Minchin also tweeted his shock: He said: ‘You’ve a right to burn a (fake!) poppy. Whether I agree with the action is utterly irrelevant. Kent Police are out of line.’ Dr Evan Harris, a former MP, tweeted: ‘@timminchin’s views on poppy burning arrest (see here https://twitter.com/timminchin ) are quite right. We need to change both law & police approach.’
Protesters support Emdadur Choudhury, a member of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), who was found guilty of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour, after he burned replica poppies during a two-minute silence on Remembrance Day in 2010
Becky Warren from the Royal British Legion, which runs the Poppy Appeal, said she could not comment on the situation as there was an ongoing police investigation. The arrest comes after a masked man, wearing a pink corset and stockings, outraged Remembrance Day crowds by skateboarding alongside the parade of marching troops in Bristol yesterday.
The Bristol intruder was tackled by a policeman who dragged him through the crowd – as people shouted their disgust at him. Witnesses say several police officers then had to pin the man down as he initially attempted to resist arrest. He was arrested on suspicion of a section five public order offence and later charged.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service, the Malicious Communications Act 1988, section 1, ‘deals with the sending to another of any article which is indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat, or which is false, provided there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient.’
He was surrounded by police who protected him against angry crowds.
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said the latest arrest in Kent was ‘ridiculous’.
He said: ‘Kent Police need to urgently release this man and drop an utterly ridiculous investigation into something that has harmed no-one. ‘It is not illegal to offend people and, however idiotic or insensitive the picture may have been, it is certainly not worthy of arrest.
‘This case highlights the urgent need to reform a law that poses a serious risk to freedom of speech after several ludicrous prosecutions in recent months.’ The Poppy Appeal is the Legion’s biggest fundraising campaign and raises vital funds to support troops and their families.