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ian neal
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Legal obligations

Post by ian neal »

This forum will in the near future be relaunched as the war on terror forum.

Terms of usage agreement

It is a condition of usage that users read the agreement below as well as the moderation policy and agree to abide by them.


The War of Terror Forum is hosted by (subsequently referred to as "WoTF") provides access to discussion forums and other online media related to political, economic, social or military events arising from the so-called ‘War on Terror’.

The web site is subject to the laws of the United Kingdom. In some cases the web site may also be governed by European laws or regulations.

Please read to following extract from Racially Inflammatory Material on the Internet, published by the Home Office of the United Kingdom, last updated February 2002.


The Law

Incitement to racial hatred

1. The criminal law most closely linked to racially inflammatory material is the incitement to racial hatred offences contained in Part III of the Public Order Act 1986.

The Basics:

2. It is an offence to use or publish insulting or abusive words (or behaviour) with an intention to stir up racial hatred or, in the circumstances, racial hatred is likely to be stirred up.

3. Racial hatred here means hatred against a group of people in Great Britain defined by reference to colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origin.

4. The offence is closely based on the public order offences (sections 4, 4A and 5 - see below) in that they cover "threatening, abusive and insulting" words as well as other written and broadcast media. The additional aspect is the intent to stir up hatred against a racial group.

5. These offences are designed to deal with people who seek to stir up hatred against racial groups. They are commonly used, for example, against those who publish leaflets and newsletters, which deliberately seek to advocate violence against racial groups or individuals from racial groups.

Range of Offences

6. Incitement to racial hatred is not one but several related offences. The offences are:

Section 18 - using threatening, abusive or insulting words or displaying material.
Section 19 - publishing or distributing written material
Section 20 - public performance of a play
Section 21 - distributing showing or playing a recording
Section 22 - broadcasting or including a programme in a cable programme service
Section 23 - Possession of racially inflammatory material

7. The most commonly used are sections 18, 19 & 23. Sections 19 and 23 are particularly relevant to material on the Internet.

Scope of the Incitement to Racial Hatred Offences

8. The laws on incitement to racial hatred were drafted long before the invention of the Internet. However, whilst not originally designed to apply to material on the Internet, the offences by covering written material, images and sounds are suited to the multimedia nature of the Internet.

"Threatening, abusive and insulting"

9. The requirement that the words or behaviour must be threatening, abusive or insulting is the first part of the incitement to racial hatred offences. The words themselves do not have to be racist in content as long as they are threatening, abusive and insulting and stir up (or are likely to stir up) hatred against a racial group.

10. What amounts to threatening, abusive or insulting is ultimately a question for the courts. Guidance from case law is not extensive but it does indicate that threatening, abusive and insulting are to be given their ordinary meanings.

11. Whilst these questions may appear to be rather subjective the general line is to take the ordinary meaning of the words in the wider context in which they are placed and in consideration of the intent behind the words.

"Intended to stir up racial hatred"

12. The second part of the offence requires the material to be intended to stir up racial hatred or likely to stir up racial hatred in the circumstances. The question of intent can be inferred from the evidence available. In many cases the intent to stir up hatred will be clear from the very words or behaviour used. In other cases intent may be inferred by taking into account the wider circumstances of the case.

13. It is not a defence to simply say that you did not intend to stir up racial hatred if, having regard to all the circumstances, racial hatred is likely to be stirred up anyway.

"against a Racial Group"

14. A "racial group" is defined in section 17 of the Act as, "a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins." This definition follows that used in the Race Relations Act 1976 and the case law developed under that Act could apply by analogy to this offence.

15. In practice this means that material designed to incite hatred against a person or group of persons because they are black or white is an offence by reference to "colour" e.g. for words such as "go and kill the blacks". "Race" is a wider issue and is often taken together with "ethnic origin" and "nationality". In this way material aimed against Chinese people could be considered under race, ethnicity or nationality.

16. Nationality can include hatred against people from countries not associated with minority ethnic communities, for example Germans, French or Greeks if the hatred is designed to stir up a group. In other words, white on white racism can still amount to incitement to racial hatred if the hatred is directed at a group defined by their nationality.

17. National origin has been taken to include Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English.

18. It is a question for the courts to determine whether a particular group is a racial group for the purposes of this Act. In this way the courts have held that Jews and Sikhs are ethnic groups in this context - as well as religious groups (see section on Religion below). The Courts have more recently held - in a Race Relations Act case - that Irish Travellers are racial group (Gypsies were already considered as a racial group).

19. This is therefore a part of the law which is still developing and where the general trend is to be more inclusive of diverse groups.

20. Prior to the introduction of the Anti-terrorism, Crime & Security Act 2001 (ATCS Act), Part III of the Public Order Act limited the incitement to racial hatred offences to racial groups "in Great Britain". Since the ATCS Act came into force on 13 December 2001, it is now possible to incite hatred against a racial group abroad. See paragraph 32 below for further information.

The Possession Offence

21. Section 23 of the Public Order Act 1986 makes it an offence to possess racially inflammatory material. However, the possession offence is not absolute. It is not an offence to simply hold this material nor, it would appear, to simply download the material. It is only an offence to possess material with a view to distribution and an intent to stir up racial hatred. In this way the law on incitement to racial hatred differs significantly from that relating to child pornography.

Other aspects of the offence

22. These offences require the consent of the Attorney General for prosecution. Investigations of criminal offences are clearly a matter for the police. The police and CPS will then seek the consent of the Attorney General to prosecute - or the Attorney General will bring the prosecution. The Attorney General seldom denies his consent. The maximum penalty for the offences under Part III of the Public Order Act 1986 is now 7 years' imprisonment (raised from 2 years by the ATCS Act 2001)


Dwelling defence

23. An incitement offence can be committed in a public or a private place but there is a "dwelling defence". The defence essentially states that an offence has not been committed if the offensive words or behaviour are used, or the material displayed, inside a dwelling and not seen or heard outside of that or another dwelling.

24. This reflects the public order nature of the offences. In terms of material on the Internet, it is unlikely to apply where a web site, for example, is open to public access. It could apply however where an e-mail containing racially inflammatory material is passed privately between two individuals and is not meant for public distribution. If that material did become public it could be argued as a defence that the defendant had no reason to believe that the words or behaviour used, or the written material displayed, would be heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling.

No Knowledge defence

25. This applies where it can be shown that a person did not know they were in possession of the material or genuinely did not know that the material was threatening, abusive or insulting. In this way an ISP could invoke this defence against charges against hosting material. This defence is also in keeping with the liabilities of ISPs outlined in the EU's E-Commerce Directive.


The full document can be viewed at:

Whilst all reasonable efforts will be taken by WOTF to remove any material that violates UK law, including cases where further investigation is required to determine if a violation has occurred, there may be instances where material is mistakenly overlooked. In such cases you are advised to contact the forum administrator giving details of the thread in which the posting is located and the user name under which the posting appears. Contact details are provided at the foot of this announcement.

These restrictions are not designed to detract from your enjoyment of WOTF or to dissuade you from participation. WOTF has a legal obligation to ensure that the law of the United Kingdom is not violated using any of the services we offer. WOTF reserves the right to remove any material that violates the law.

All material submitted to WOTF (including images), unless specifically stated otherwise, represents the views and opinions of the individual author and not WOTF. Other than removing material that violates UK law, WOTF will not censor or accept responsibility for the view of private individuals.

If you are in any doubt of your legal obligations and responsibilities relating to your interaction with WOTF the contact details below may assist you in obtaining further information or guidance.

Internet Watch

Home Office
Race Equality Unit
12th Floor
50, Queen Anne’s Gate
London SW1H 9AT
Contact: Neil Stevenson
Tel: 020 7273 3384
Fax: 020 7272 3771

Metropolitan Police Service
Racial & Violent Crime Task Force
New Scotland Yard
London SW1H 0BG
Tel 020 7230 4374

Commission for Racial Equality

Governmental, police or regulatory bodies wishing to raise issue with any of the material on this web site should contact
These regulations and guidelines also relate to any links leading to this web site via the Internet domains

WOTF has no connection with nor is responsible for any third party web site that might be referenced within postings appearing on this site. Similarly, WOTF is not connected with or responsible for any web sites or the content of such sites, other than those stated above, that provide links into postings on this site.

By posting material to this web site you have agreed with the regulations detailed in this announcement even if you have failed to read any or all of the content herein. This announcement is clearly labelled and easily accessible from each forum on this web site.

WOTF has been self classified as suitable for persons aged 18 years and above. Minors should not view this web site or contribute any material to it.

Please direct all enquiries to the contact address made available at the foot of this announcement. A copy of this message is posted at each Forum.
Contact if you are having difficulties using this forum or to report any messages that violate UK law. You must be 18 years of age or above to use this site

Moderation principles

In addition to compliance with the UK law, forum users are required to use this forum in accordance with its principles.

Thank you and we hope you enjoy the forum

Want content removed? Contact all moderators here.
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Post by TonyGosling »


Defamation - General and Links.

The law of defamation is complex. Rely upon nothing you read here without first taking direct advice on your particular problem. Having said that anyone can be a fully fledged expert on defamation. You need only know to 'Just say No.' Neither encourage actions against you, nor, ever, under whatever provocation, begin a libel action.

Defamation protects reputation, no more. Words are defamatory if they tend to reduce the reputation of the claimant in the minds of right thinking members of the public. Words are frequently both defamatory and true.

A claimant must show that :

1. Defamatory words (in the relevant and particular context)
2. were published (i.e. somebody other than the claimant and the defendant saw the words, and
3. they caused damage to reputation. The claimant must have a reputation which can be damaged. This can limit claims by companies, larger groups, and public authorities in different ways. Sometimes private individuals can have no reputation capable of protection - which is why newspapers can have a field day against somebody who has been convicted of any serious offence.

A defendant may, by way of answer, establish that:

1. one of the essential elements is absent; or
2. the defamatory words are true. This is the atom bomb defence. Whichever wins, claimant or respondent, takes all; or
3. some other (several possibilities) reason protects the publication in law. This may be some form, of privilege, or innocence.
4. a suitable offer of amends has been made

There are two sub-species of defamation, libel and slander. Libel is when the defamation is written down (including most particularly electronically), and slander is when the incident relates to words spoken.

In general, mere abuse is not defamatory, but it can take a clever person to insult another without straying over the line into defamation. The better the insult, the closer to the edge.

see also links on that page