UK case reopened over antisemitic speech by far-right activist

Campaign against antisemitism wages legal battle against decision not to prosecute.

March 8, 2017 20:10
2 minute read.
Swastika and "Seig Heil 2016" graffiti

Swastika and "Seig Heil 2016" graffiti found in South Philly. (photo credit: ADL PHILIDELPHIA)


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Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service has agreed to revisit its decision not to prosecute a far-right activist for antisemitism, the Campaign Against Antisemitism announced on Wednesday after having waged a 13-month legal battle against the decision.

The case refers to comments made by Jeremy Bedford-Turner at a demonstration in London in July 2015. During the protest against the Jewish “neighborhood watch” group Shomrim, Bedford-Turner made a slew of anti-Jewish comments. “All politicians are nothing but a bunch of puppets dancing to a Jewish tune, and the ruling regimes in the West for the last one hundred years have danced to the same tune,” he said, claiming that the French Revolution and both World Wars were massacres perpetrated by Jews.

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“Let’s free England from Jewish control,” he said, stating that the Zionists control the West.

The incident was reported to Crown Prosecution Service by the Community Security Trust. But five months later, the CPS decided against prosecution, maintaining that there was no realistic prospect of a jury finding that Bedford-Tuner’s speech amounted to racial incitement or religious hatred.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism subsequently turned to the High Court. In January, a judge gave the CAA judicial-review permission to proceed on all grounds and said the case “raises potentially important issues for society in this growing area of racist and religious hate crime.”

Government lawyers had been set to appear at the High Court in London on Wednesday for the judicial-review proceeding brought by the CAA.

However, on the eve of the hearing, the CPS said it had decided that a more senior lawyer should revisit the case.

Brian Kennelly, the leading counsel in the judicial review, said: “The CPS has acknowledged that in the future it must apply Article 17 of the European Human Rights Convention in cases of antisemitic hate speech. This provides that the right to free speech does not extend to those who would destroy that right.”

Gideon Falter, CAA chairman, said: “We are delighted by this result, but for more than a year it has been clear that the DPP [director of public prosecutions] could not win.

It is a disgrace that we have had to litigate for the DPP to reconsider the absurd decision not to prosecute this brazen neo-Nazi. The question now is why the CPS seems to demonstrate such incompetence in dealing with cases of antisemitism.

Despite record levels of antisemitic crime, there are dismally few prosecutions of antisemites in Britain every year.

“Antisemites are becoming bolder and British Jews are losing faith in the authorities,” he said. “The CPS must stop making excuses and prosecute antisemites with zero tolerance. If they do not, we will continue to hold them to account in court.”

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