At one level, social media and politicians don’t mix. At another it merely allows them to share their innermost thoughts with us, with the unfortunate effect of making us all stupider by having read them.
Yesterday, Ruth Patterson responded to a post from Brian Ulsterman on Facebook as below.
[I’ve updated this with the full text and image, I’d originally included this version and the full screen grab with other comments can be seen here; h/ts to between the bridges, Ciarán, @PaulTyredeagh81 and @LADFLEG]
The following are the provisions of the UK’s Terrorism Act 2006:
1 Encouragement of terrorism
(1) This section applies to a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences.
(2) A person commits an offence if — (a)he publishes a statement to which this section applies or causes another to publish such a statement; and (b)at the time he publishes it or causes it to be published, he— (i)intends members of the public to be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism or Convention offences; or (ii)is reckless as to whether members of the public will be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate such acts or offences.
(3) For the purposes of this section, the statements that are likely to be understood by members of the public as indirectly encouraging the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences include every statement which— (a)glorifies the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of such acts or offences; and (b)is a statement from which those members of the public could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified is being glorified as conduct that should be emulated by them in existing circumstances.
(4) For the purposes of this section the questions how a statement is likely to be understood and what members of the public could reasonably be expected to infer from it must be determined having regard both — (a)to the contents of the statement as a whole; and (b)to the circumstances and manner of its publication.
(5) It is irrelevant for the purposes of subsections (1) to (3) — (a)whether anything mentioned in those subsections relates to the commission, preparation or instigation of one or more particular acts of terrorism or Convention offences, of acts of terrorism or Convention offences of a particular description or of acts of terrorism or Convention offences generally; and, (b)whether any person is in fact encouraged or induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate any such act or offence.
(6) In proceedings for an offence under this section against a person in whose case it is not proved that he intended the statement directly or indirectly to encourage or otherwise induce the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences, it is a defence for him to show—
(a) that the statement neither expressed his views nor had his endorsement (whether by virtue of section 3 or otherwise); and
(b) that it was clear, in all the circumstances of the statement’s publication, that it did not express his views and (apart from the possibility of his having been given and failed to comply with a notice under subsection (3) of that section) did not have his endorsement.
(7) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years or to a fine, or to both;
(c) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.
Ruth has issued a statement this afternoon in which she apologies for her lapse in judgement:
I unreservedly apologise for this lapse of judgement. I completely withdraw this flawed Facebook comment. Murder and terrorism can never be justified in any circumstances. To descend to such a level would be to repeat the actions of those we stood against during the dark days of Northern Ireland’s troubles.
If the law is applied and she is indicted and found guilty under Section 7, she wouldn’t be able to work as a Special Advisor. Previously, Marion Price was arraigned on similar charges relating to an Easter Rising rally in Derry.
UPDATE 2.8.13 BBC are reporting that Ruth Patterson has been arrested by the PSNI for the comments.