Judge aids officials vilified on the web

Posted: 30th October 2014

WitchA judge has come to the aid of three Independent Police Complaints Commission investigators who suffered ‘utterly oppressive’ personal abuse on the web.

One investigator was painted as a broomstick-riding witch by a web campaigner who had also accused her of having an improper relationship with a senior police officer. Another claimed that vindictive efforts to blacken his name had inspired a credible bomb threat against himself, his wife and his family.

In issuing interim injunctions against two campaigners who were said to be behind the web campaign, the judge described the abuse endured by the investigators as nothing short of torment. The accusations were plainly calculated to cause alarm and distress and went a long way beyond being merely unattractive.

Whilst recognising the importance of freedom of expression rights, and that criticism of public authorities is a vital part of a democratic society, the court emphasised that public servants were ‘deserving of protection from those who launch campaigns of personal vilification against them’. The injunctions forbade the campaigners from publishing anything about the investigators which could amount to harassment.