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Green Party activist visited by police over Ukip tweet

Free speech under threat as comments were ordered to be removed

OUTRAGED Green Party peer Jenny Jones condemned yesterday a police visit to the home of an activist who used Twitter to expose Ukip’s racist policies as “bully boy tactics.” 

Ms Jones is writing to Home Secretary Theresa May after police were sent to doorstep Green Party member Michael Abberton at his Cambridge home on behalf of a thin-skinned Ukip councillor.

Mr Abberton revealed that officers visited on Saturday in connection with a tongue-in-cheek graphic he had tweeted last week titled “10 reasons to vote for Ukip.”

The “reasons” — ranging from their pledges to scrap maternity leave and holidays to raising income tax for 88 per cent of the population — were supplemented with links to Ukip materials.

Officers asked Mr Abberton to remove the tweet and ordered him not to tweet about their visit.

The activist removed the tweet as a gesture of goodwill but unmasked the intimidation attempts on his blog, writing: “A complaint had been made but with no legal basis. Not a police matter. So why did they come to my home in the middle of a Saturday afternoon?

“Why would a political party, so close to an election, seek to stop people finding out what its policies are or its past voting record?

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman confirmed that a Ukip councillor had taken “exception” to the tweet and filed a complaint on Friday.

“Inquiries were made as to whether any offences had been committed under the Representation of the People Act but none were revealed and no further action was taken,” he said. 

The spokesman said it was “certainly not the advice” of police not to tweet about such visits. 

“This is not 1930s Germany,” he said.

But the Green’s peer Ms Jones was far from satisfied, telling the Morning Star that she intended to raise the matter with the Home Secretary.

Ms Jones said the officers’ decision to go doorknocking was “absolutely astonishing.

“It sounds horrific,” she said. 

“It’s all about freedom of speech. As a politician I know there are terrible things people say about me and you just have to live with it.

“The police need to understand that there’s no role for this unless there’s actual abuse.”

And Green Party leader Natalie Bennett added: “This is a very disturbing occurrence.

“Just the sheer fact of the visit is deeply damaging to free speech and is going to intimidate a lot of people thinking about whether they really are free to speak their mind.”

Ukip Cambridgeshire group council leader Paul Bullen — a magistrate in Huntingdon and Cambridgeshire’s Family Proceedings Court — denied all knowledge of the affair, adding that he “could not see” his fellow Ukip councillors making such a complaint.

He repeatedly declined to say whether he would ask them whether they had been involved, stressing instead that he knew “absolutely nothing.”

“If I looked at every bit of mud-slinging against Ukip in the last three months, I’d spend my whole life on the internet,” he said.

Earlier this month the right-wing party’s would-be Stockport councillor Harry Perry was suspended over a series of tweets asserting that “Islam is evil” and Muslim children were the “devil’s kids,” that Pakistan should be “nuked” and that gay, lesbian and bisexual people were an “abomination before God.”

Ukip Enfield candidate William Henwood told British comedian Lenny Henry via Twitter in March to “emigrate to a black country” and compared Islam with “the Third Reich, strength through violence against the citizens.”

 

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