Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Hoist by her own petard?

Now that's she's done putting prisoners in containers and crushing boy-racer's cars, Judith Collins is trying to rob us of our free speech on the internet through the Harmful Digital Communications Bill. The bill would make hurting someone's feeling son the internet a criminal offence, punishable by up to two year's imprisonment. But as Chris Barton points out in the Herald this morning, if the law passes Collins may be hoist by her own petard:

On the face of it, the Minister scores a yes on all three counts [of s19 of the Bill - I/S]. She posted a communication calling Bradford a liar, another suggesting she was biased and one urging exposure of her approaching Collins, the then Police Minister, to help in her ex-partner's job application for the police...

[considering relevant factors], the Minister seems to be caught on at least three counts - her comments were repeated and widely circulated, and, as it turns out, weren't true causing Collins to apologise. Theoretically, Collins could be liable for up to two years' imprisonment.

Which would be enough to have her thrown out of Parliament if convicted. If this law passes I think we're going to have a new, fun game: bringing private prosecutions against MPs who vote for it. If they want to make us follow this standard, the least we can do is inflict it on them in return.

Barton thinks that many would see Collins' tweets as "part of the cut and thrust between politicians and journalists", and he'd be right. But the fact that they would be illegal under her law (which does not include a public interest defence or a BORA reminder) shows just how awful that law is. Collins may be a bully and a thug - but I don't think she should be going to jail for it.