Monthly Archives: March 2016

The free sheet, The Metro, reports on the sentencing of a man who daubed anti-Muslim graffiti on the hoardings of the Noor ul Islam Trust in Leyton while it was undergoing renovations.

Tom Whelan, 53, was twice caught on CCTV writing the graffiti on the mosque site. Whelan wrote the messages “deport Islam”, “Islam evil”, “Arab myth”, “Nation destroyer” and “Allah myth”, between August 2015 and February 2016.

Whelan pleaded guilty to nine charges of racially aggravated criminal damage at Thames Magistrates’ Court. He is due to be sentenced on 13 April.

While awaiting sentence, Whelan was ordered not go within 50 metres of the Noor Ul Islam Trust nor have a permanent marker pen in public.

The Huddersfield Examiner reports on the sentencing of a young woman who verbally abused and physically assaulted an Asian taxi driver after a night out leaving him too afraid to return to work.

Haley Spink, 25, admitted to charges of racially-aggravated assault, causing a danger to road users and possession of cannabis at Kirklees magistrates court in connection with the incident on 13 September 2015.

The court heard Spink got into the passenger seat of Ilyas Khan’s taxi in Huddersfield town centre at 11pm asking to be driven to an address in Brackenhall.

When Khan arrived at the destination and asked for the £4 fare, Ms Spink said “What money?”

She then referred to a taxi firm called Timmy’s saying they would sort it out. When Mr Khan explained that he did not work for Timmy’s and that Ms Spink should pay her fare, she turned and said: “I ain’t white, I’m n*****” before throwing her purse at him.

Mr Khan picked up the purse and the £1.50 which fell out of it telling Ms Spink “Look you have money.”

But Ms Spink punched Mr Khan in the mouth and, when he threw her purse back at her, grabbed at him and scratched his face.

Prosecutor Vanessa Jones said: “He was really frightened and started to drive up the road. Spink grabbed hold of the steering wheel and he hit the kerb several times. She then shouted to him “P***”, he sounded the horn for assistance and she kicked out at him.”

Passers-by who witnessed the incident came to Mr Khan’s assistance and called the police.

Mr Khan was treated at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary for injuries including scratching around his eye, bite marks and further scratches to his neck and face.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Mr Khan said he had been unable to work for two to three months since the incident because he had trouble seeing clearly due to the injury to his eye.

Kirklees magistrates court handed Spink a 20-week jail term suspended for 18 months.

She was ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay Mr Khan £200 compensation.

Scottish paper, the Press and Journal, reports on the conviction of a man for  racially aggravated breach of the peace after he posted offensive comments about Muslims on a Facebook page.

Liam Calder was sentenced at Inverness Sheriff Court after he reacted to a news report in the Press and Journal about a Scottish teenager being radicalised by posting expletive-ridden, error strewn messages on his social media page.

Calder, who will be competing in the forthcoming Scottish Strongman and Powerlifting Championships, posted the comments: “Inverness!! I have a mosque on my doorstep. Get all these (expletive) back to there own countrys, shouldn’t be aloud to preach over hear! And as far as that little 18 year old, name and shame the little (expletive).”

One online poster stated extremists should be sent back to the desert, to which Calder responded: “It ain’t even a religion that they follow, it is a cult.”

Calder was charged after officers were ordered to patrol social media sites to look out for retaliation. Calder’s comments were not reported to the police by a member of the public. The police identified the posts and charged Calder.

Calder argued the posts were not intended for a wider public saying they were private adding, “There wasn’t much difference between my sentiments and that of Donald Trump. There was no complaint by any member of the public.”

Calder has since quit Facebook.

Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood at Inverness Sheriff Court said: “I can think of few examples that I have seen that more than meet the requirements of an abusive and threatening racist breach of the peace.”

Calder was found guilty of making racially aggravated offensive comments on Facebook and fined £700.

 

The Croydon Guardian reports on the sentencing of two women who were found guilty of an attack on a Kosovan woman in a Lidl car park.

Natalie Sharp and Christine Bicknell were convicted at Croydon Crown Court of racially aggravated assault and racially aggravated harassment, respectively, last week.

Their victim, Selvete Selmani was left with two black eyes after Sharp punched her three times in the head, kicked her legs and grabbed her by the hair while verbally abusing her, according to reports of last week’s court proceedings.

Appearing in court for sentencing, the two women escaped a custodial sentence.

Natalie Sharp is the mother of the murdered schoolgirl, Tia Sharp.

Passing sentence, Judge Sonya Woodley QC said: “I accept you have had a difficult time in the last few years, but this kind of behaviour must not take place.”

Sharp was sentenced to complete 60 hours unpaid work in the next 12 months and ordered to pay £40 compensation.

Bicknell was ordered to do 40 hours unpaid work in the next year. Both were told they must pay a £60 victim surcharge.

 

In the interests of transparency and for full disclosure to the nearly 3,000 people who complained about The Sun’s front page story last November, ‘1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis’, and The Times article on the same, we are publishing all our correspondence with The Sun and The Times via Ipso.

We thought the many other individuals who complained alongside us might be interested to read the respective newspapers’ defence of their stories and the ruling by Ipso as revealed to us in February.

The Sun had today published a correction to the story as required by Ipso’s ruling on our complaint about a Clause 1 breach (Accuracy).

But there are a few other matters that ought to be considered alongside the regulator’s ruling that The Sun story was ‘significantly misleading’:

We learnt of Ipso’s decision on February 17 but received no clear guidance from the regulator as to when its decision or the newspaper’s ‘remedial action’ would be published.

It was one of the criticisms levelled at the defunct Press Complaints Commission that corrections or apologies proceeded long after the fact and were rarely commensurate with the damage done by the initial article.

We would therefore question the validity of allowing corrections to be published during major holiday periods. The Sun boasted of its newspaper front page in November on a weekday. Is it fair to allow the correction to follow in a weekend edition of the paper during a long holiday weekend? We invite readers to consider these matters. The letter links are below:

Ipso’s letter to MEND, 17 February 2016

Ipso_Decision to complainant

 

The Sun Letters

MEND, 23 November 2015

A_Ipso231115

 

The Sun, 4 December 2015

B_The Sun041215

 

MEND, 11 December 2015

C_Ipso111215

 

The Sun, 16 December 2015

D_The Sun161215

 

MEND, 24 December 2015

E_The Sun241215

 

The Sun, undated

F_The Sun

 

The Times Letters

MEND, 24 November 2015

A_Ipso241115

 

The Times, 27 November 2015

B_The Times271115

 

MEND, 27 November 2015

C_The Times271115

 

The Times, 27 November 2015

D_The Times271115b

 

MEND, 30 November 2015

E_The Times301115

 

The Times, undated

F_Isis response

 

MEND, 15 December 2015.

G_Ipso151215

The Mirror and Portsmouth News report on the arrest of two men in connection with a suspected hate crime at the Madani Academy Islamic School in Portsmouth in January.

Staff at the school arrived on the morning of Thursday 21 January to find a pig’s head tied to the gate. The head had a swastika drawn on it and “an offensive message about Allah” written on it in black marker.

The papers report that two men, aged 24 and 27, have been arrested “on suspicion of racially or religiously aggravated intentional harassment or distress by words or writing”.

The two men have been bailed to return to court on 29 April.

The incident attracted an outpouring of supportive messages with locals leaving cards at the school gates. One message read “Dear Madani school, we love you!”.

Another message, rejecting the bigotry of the few, read: “This is in response to the ugly incident of a severed pig’s head left outside this school, an attempt to intimidate staff and frighten children.

“It was carried out last week – under cover of darkness by racist cowards who represent a tiny minority of the overwhelming majority of decent, law abiding citizens of Portsmouth.

“Where cowards leave messages of hate and fear – we will fight it with flowers, symbols of peace and boxes of chocolates.

“And we will win because there are many, many more of us ordinary fair-minded people in every town and city than there are bigots.”

The Coventry Telegraph reports on the remarks by Britain’s first ethnic minority police officer on diversity in police recruitment.

Former police constable Mohammed Daar joined West Midlands Police on 16 March 1966. News of his appointment was published on the front page of a number of national newspapers at the time as he became the first Black or Asian man person to wear an officer’s uniform and patrol the streets of Coventry.

This week, he spoke of his pride at being Britain’s first “foreign born” policeman.

Daar recalled feeling immense pride at working within the force. Having moved from Tanzania to Britain, he lived in Coventry where 90% of the population was white.

He told the local paper: “I was treated very well. I had the height, I had the build and I was experienced. The best thing of all my colleagues, the English, were all protecting me. There was no racism from colleagues – it makes me proud because it was a different era then. But I know a couple of other officers who had a terrible time. One in Birmingham had swastikas painted on his house and another at Nuneaton was also treated very badly.”

He added: “After two years I decided to leave. They weren’t very happy. They were disappointed. I thought they would use my expertise. I wanted to get into CID but I couldn’t get in. It was the right thing for me to do to leave. But if I had some support from the top people about my prospects I might have stayed. To become Chief Constable at the time would have been unthinkable because of my religion and the colour of my skin.”

Fifty years on, Mr Daar said there are still not enough ethnic minority police officers. He said: “In Coventry now there are perhaps three or four Asian Police officers – that’s not good. It’s disappointing.”

The recruitment and retention of officers from a BME background has been an ongoing problem affecting police forces in England and Wales. In 1999, the MacPherson report observed a dire need to improve the recruitment and retention of police officers from minority ethnic backgrounds but 17 years on, the number of BME officers in the police force in England and Wales has not increased substantially with the number of BME officers rising from around 3% in 2004 to 5.5% in 2015.

Home Office figures published in March 2013 showed that only 5% of all officers within police forces in England and Wales were from a BME background while the figure for the UK’s BME population stands at 14.1%, according to the 2011 census. Individuals from Minority Ethnic groups also made up a disproportionately small number of officers in senior roles. In 2015, less than 5% of chief superintendents were from a BME background and only 1% of chief officers.

Figures released last year revealed that none of the police forces in England or Wales reflected the ethnic make-up of their local constabulary populations. Four police forces had low levels of BME officers, Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Dyfed-Powys and Durham, while none of the four had officers from a Black background despite employing 5,692 officers in total. Eleven forces were found to have no BME officers at a position above the rank of chief inspector and 15 out of the 43 forces had less than five Black officers in the entire force.

Some forces have tried to address the problem of BME recruitment holding campaigns to target people from BME backgrounds, for example Northamptonshire Police. The Metropolitan Police Service recently revealed its success in raising the number of BME recruits following a recruitment campaign banning the hiring of officers living outside London. The move saw the Met double the number of BME recruits between June and August 2015, up at 26% compared to 12% in the same quarter last year.

Local paper, The Herald, reports on the sentencing of a 53 year old man after he was convicted of racially or religiously aggravated common assault at Banbury Magistrates’ Court this week.

Andrew Lydiatt, 53, was found guilty of racially or religiously aggravated common assault on Faisalrahman Abdulnazar in relation to an incident that happened on October 22 last year.

Lydiatt also admitted causing racially, religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress by words on the same day and committing an offence during the period of a suspended sentence for assaulting a constable, assault by beating and using threatening behaviour.

Lydiatt was jailed for 15 weeks and ordered to pay £200 compensation and an £80 victim surcharge.

The Croydon AdvertiserThe Guardian and The Independent all report on the arrest of a man who tweeted a message about “confronting” a Muslim woman on the street in Croydon and asking her to “explain Brussels”. Her response, “nothing to do with me” was described in the tweet as “A mealy mouthed reply.”

Matthew Doyle, 46, posted the message on Wednesday morning sparking a frenzy of Twitter responses by users who accused him of holding Muslims to account for actions they had no part in. One user posted the message, “Do you think that Muslim woman in Croydon represents the actions of some senseless terrorists?”.

Other users demonstrated the ridiculous nature of Doyle’s suggestion that “Muslims explain Brussels” by posting comic tweets about who else might be “confronted” to “explain” various life events. One man posted a tweet about asking an Irish woman to “explain Bono” and related her response, “Nothing to do with me”, A mealy mouthed reply.” Several other memes followed Doyle’s initial tweet.

When asked by the Huffington Post why he had approached the Muslim woman, Doyle claimed it was because she was wearing a headscarf.

He said: “She was wearing a flag. If I was walking down the street wearing a jacket emblazoned with a Union Jack then I would be open to some abuse.”

When asked if he would approach a Jewish man wearing a skullcap and question them about the ongoing Israel/Palestine situation he exclaimed: “Absolutely not!”.

In another tweet, Doyle referred to the Muslim woman in disparaging terms saying “Who cares if I insulted some towelhead ?? Really.”

He also posted the message “VOTE UKIP – WE NEED TO DEFEND OURSELVES FROM ISLAMIST THREATS.”

The papers report Croydon Police have arrested Mr Doyle on suspicion of incitement to racial hatred following the twitter outburst. A message tweeted on Croydon Police’s twitter page just after 9pm last night read: “Suspect arrested for inciting racial hatred on twitter.”

While the news of police action is welcome and a reminder of the serious nature of social media posts which violate criminal law on incitement, Muslims will be watching to see whether the legislation proves successful in challenging those who foment incitement to hatred against Muslims.

The extant legislation which requires proof of “intent” to successfully prosecute for incitement to religious hatred is virtually useless in delivering positive outcomes.

The reference to incitement to racial hatred in the tweet posted by Croydon Police is a reminder of the caveat exploited by Nick Griffin in 2004 when he argued, “Since Islam is not a race based religion there is no offence in criticising Islam.” Griffin was acquitted of charges on incitement to racial hatred in 2006. During his trial the prosecution noted that Griffin had shown “awareness” of the criminal law telling a meeting “that he could get seven years’ jail for his comments, but [he] appeared to use the word “Muslim” to make his attacks appear to be on religion rather than race.”

The Mirror reports on the guilty verdict reached by a jury in the trial of Natalie Sharp, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Tia Sharp, who was standing trial on charges of racially aggravated assault in connection with an incident at a Lidl supermarket on 18 April 2015.

Earlier this week, the Evening StandardBBC News and the Daily Mail reported on court proceedings at Croydon Crown Court. Ms Sharp was accused of punching and kicking a female in the car park of a Lidl store in south London.

Prosecutor Duncan Cooke explained that an argument arose after Selvete Selmani, who is of Kosovan descent, parked her car in a space designated for mother and baby parking. Natalie Sharp, 34, and Christine Bicknell, 50, had been searching for a parking space when they saw Ms Selmani park her Volkswagen Golf in the vacant parking space.

Ms Selmani explained that as she was about to enter the store, Ms Sharp shouted at her “Why have you parked the car here, you don’t have any kids”. While queuing in the shop Ms Bicknell saw her and started shouting at her too.

Ms Selmani said: “She saw me in the queue, she started shouting at me “you fucking b****, you’re foreign. You don’t have kids.”

Ms Selmani told the court, “I felt very upset and I was very shy. I felt very bad.”

After returning to her car, Ms Selmani noticed a scratch on her vehicle and after seeing Ms Bicknell driving away, she put her hand out in an attempt to get her to stop her car. Ms Sharp then got out of the passenger seat and punched Ms Selmani three times in the head, kicking her legs and grabbing her by the hair. Ms Selvani suffered two black eyes in the assault.

Ms Selmani explained that she feared Ms Sharp was “going to kill” her saying the attack only stopped when a man intervened. Ms Selmani told the court: “Why you scratch my car, I was going to say. She was very quickly out of the car and first thing, she hit me. I did not say nothing. She did not wait for me to say anything she just hit me. I think she was going to kill me.”

Mr Cooke explained that during the attack, Ms Sharp used words of racial abuse shouting “f**k off back to your own country”. Ms Bicknell also got out of the car and shouted abuse at the victim saying “You f***king foreign c***, f*** off to your own country, you don’t belong here.” he added.

Giving testimony in court, Ms Selmani claimed that Ms Bicknell and the two children sat in the back of the car were “laughing” at her. She said: “She [Bicknell] did not come out to help. She was laughing at me.”

Before the car drove away, Ms Selmani took a picture of car’s license plate number handing the photo to police in order to identify the perpetrators.

A witness, Philip Walters, told the court that he was behind Ms Bicknell’s car when Ms Sharp got out of the car. He said: “She got out of the car very quickly, aggressively screaming and shouting and hit the woman in the face.”

He said that Ms Selmani looked like she was in a “state of shock”.

In court, Ms Sharp, 34, admitted to a charge of assault by beating while denying a charge of racially aggravated common assault. Ms Bicknell denied a charge of racially aggravated harassment.

Sharp was convicted of one count of racially aggravated assault and Bicknell of one count of racially aggravated harassment.

Sentencing has not been pronounced as yet.