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My hon. Friend makes a good point. Equally, it is right to point out that we quite frequently
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have to ask juries to make an objective assessment of a set of facts, and it is my experience that, precisely because juries are robust, if they have any concerns about the matter they will acquit and throw out the charges. Indeed I suspect that if the Bill were to get on to the statute book in its present form, because, mercifully and thankfully, we have a jury system a large number of cases would be slung out. That is not what the Government intend; they intend something completely to the contrary, but the jury system exists precisely as that safeguard.
Mr. Grieve: I understand my hon. Friend's point, but the amendment covers "a specific terrorist act". If the Bill provided for a requirement to show that the person making the speech wished for the blowing up of the Houses of Parliament on the evening of 5 November, conviction would be unlikely unless the person said, "And everybody should go and blow up the Houses of Parliament on the evening of 5 November." I therefore accept that the Government are entitled to introduce a measure that provides for general incitementfor example, a speech that requires every right-thinking person to consider whether to become a suicide bomber and thus force the British Government to change their policies. However, that is sufficient and there is no need to show that a specific incident or offence is about to be committed. That is the reason for paragraph (c) in the amendment.
Chris Bryant: I wonder whether I may tease the hon. Gentleman a little further along that line. I believe he accepts that those who said a couple of weeks ago that the clause contained no intent element were wrong. The question is, should someone be allowed to advance as a defence the claim that there was no intent and that they did not believe that their words would lead to an incident?
I understand the hon. Gentleman's pointI have been trying to deal with it for the past 20 minutes. It is clear that part of the offence is specific intent, for which clause 1(b)(i) provides. Under it, people can know or believe that they are trying to incite terrorism and they can be convicted for it. However, as the hon. Gentleman says, the Government wish to widen its scope. To what point is it being widened? I believe that it is being widened well beyond the recklessness testthe old test that was often put into statutes to ensure that someone could not wriggle off the hook by saying, "Oh well, I may have said people should blow themselves up in Kensington high street, but I didn't really mean it." There is a difference between that and negligence, which may constitute a negligent comment of the kind that many a Minister or Member
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of Parliament has made on the Floor of the House and regretted afterwards. The Minister must deal with that distinction this afternoon.
Glorification is a completely separate issue. We know the origin of the glorification provisions. The Bill started out with a completely separate offence of glorifying terrorism and received massive public criticism. Consequently, the Government conducted a classic piece of new Labour dissimulation. On the one hand, they announced that they were backing down in the face of the criticism, but, on the other, they tried somehow to save the Prime Minister's face by ensuring that glorification survived. I strongly suspect that there were long and disputatious moments in No. 10 Downing street between the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister.
Mr. Grieve: Indeed. I simply do not understand what the Government are trying to achieve. If an act of glorification amounts to incitement, direct or indirect, a jury will find no difficulty in considering that as part of the total case. There is, therefore, no need for a separate subsection, which specifically draws attention to glorification as a way in which the offence might be committed.
Many people have glorified acts of terrorism. Hon. Members glorifiedor at least expressed approval ofthe actions of members of the ANC fighting apartheid in South Africa, even though those actions involved the use of violence.
Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): Expressing views about the ANC is far removed from the clause[Hon. Members: "No, it is not."] It is. The nature of the state is different. The Bill covers people saying, "Acts of terror are great and you should copy them." The clause is not only about glorification; it provides for emulation. There are two tests. The clause is completely different from what the hon. Gentleman claims.
Mr. Grieve: If, for example, I had said in a public speech to a community of Bosnians in this country at the time of the first Yugoslav war that the acts of those in Bosnia who resisted the Serb forces of the Yugoslav Government were worthy, and that they were conducting themselves honourably and laudably in protecting their community from state aggression, and the speech was a clear encouragement to people to go out and join themor people inferred that from the wordsshould that be criminalised? As the clause stands, it is likely to cover the glorification of Robin Hood.
That is a red herring. My reading of the clause is that it covers someone who stands in front an audience and says, "Suicide bombers are wonderful and you should go and do the same." It covers glorification and emulation.
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Mr. Grieve: I understand the hon. Lady's point, but it is adequately covered by clause 1(1), which we have just discussed. We have had a disagreement about whether we should include an offence of specific intent, negligence or recklessnesswe must consider that this afternoonbut clause 1(1) covers glorification adequately. Introducing the separate glorification subsection adds nothing except to suggest that laudatory talkno moreabout the activities of individuals in foreign countries, where the acts would be likely to take place, should become a criminal offence. That is undoubtedly a major infringement of free speech because no specific offence is being incited. It may be in breach of article 10.2 of the European convention on human rights on freedom of expression. It adds nothing to the Bill. The Minister made a sedentary comment about "in existing circumstances", but invoking Robin Hood may apply to existing circumstances.
Mr. Robert Marshall-Andrews (Medway) (Lab): May I try to offer a little assistance on the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble), who has a fine record on the ANC? Would not the following statement undoubtedly be caught by the Bill? I quote:
Mr. Grieve: The hon. and learned Gentleman has given a perfect example. The statement would be caught by clause 1 as it stands. The hon. Member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble) shakes her head. I assure her that it is not some cussedness on our part that suggests that it is the case; I genuinely believe it. Many Labour Members' assessment is identical to ours.
Ms Keeble: I am at a great disadvantage here because I am not a lawyer, but a comparable example might be when someone says, "Look at so-and-so, who blew up a radio mast. Why don't you go out and do the same thing?" That would encourage people directly. It would involve glorification and emulation, which, in simple terms, means copying.
Mr. Grieve: I understand the hon. Lady's point, but that is not, to my mind, what glorification is about. Indeed, the more I listen to her, the more I believe that she is making a powerful case for taking glorification out of the Bill altogether.
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