Second Legislative Scrutiny Report: Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill Contents

2Publication of images

Clause 2

7.Clause 2 amends section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to criminalise the online publication of an image depicting clothing or other articles which arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.

8.In its response to the Committee’s report, the Government has stated that it does not believe that legitimate publications will be caught as this offence only ‘bites’ where the publication arouses reasonable suspicion of membership or support of a proscribed organisation.4

9.In our view, the arousal of reasonable suspicion of support for a proscribed organisation is a low threshold to make out an offence.5 The Committee remains concerned that this clause risks catching a vast amount of conduct, particularly given the lack of mens rea, such as intention or recklessness to cause harm.

10.We suggest the following amendments:

Amendment 4

Page 1, line 15, leave out subsections (2) and (3).

Amendment 5

Page 2, line 6, at end insert -

“A person does not commit an offence under subsection (1A) if there is a reasonable excuse for the publication of that image, such as historical research, academic research or family photographs, and where the publication of that image was not intended to support or further the activities of a proscribed organisation”.

Comment: this option would retain the new offence of “publication of images” in clause 2, but it would create a defence of reasonable excuse so to ensure that the offence did not catch the publication of historical, academic or family images.

Published: 12 October 2018