Anger as police arrest man over burning poppy on Facebook

Nov 12, 2012

Picture of burning poppy sparks outrage, but so does over-the-top police reaction

A KENT man has been arrested after he posted a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook, sparking an impassioned debate over freedom of speech on social networking sites.

The man, named by the Daily Mail as 19-year-old Linford House, was arrested on Remembrance Sunday on suspicion of 'malicious telecommunications' after the picture was uploaded along with the message: "How about that you squadey [sic] c***s".

But despite outrage over his actions, it is the police who have been condemned for arresting the man.

Australian comedian Tim Minchin was one of the first to react to the news on Twitter. "You've a right to burn a (fake!) poppy," he wrote. "Whether I agree with the action is utterly irrelevant. Kent police are out of line."

New Statesman legal blogger David Allen Green also weighed in. "What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by @kent_police for burning a poppy?" he asked.

Although the teenager's actions were roundly condemned, there was a groundswell of anger at the actions of the police.

Freedom of speech campaigners added their voice to the chorus of disapproval. Index on Censorship told The Guardian: "News of this arrest is very worrying. Index hopes that when the CPS issues its guidelines on free speech later this month, due regard will be given to free speech online."

Another civil liberties group, Big Brother Watch, told The Daily Telegraph the arrest was ridiculous. "It is not illegal to offend people and, however idiotic or insensitive the picture may have been, it is certainly not worthy of arrest," it said.

There was even concern among the readers of the Daily Mail. "We're one step away from thought-crime. How did we let this happen?" said one commenter underneath the paper's story.

However, it is not the first time police have taken action over poppy-related protests. Last year there were several arrests in Northern Ireland after pictures of a burning poppy were posted on Facebook, and Emdadur Choudhury, a member of Muslims Against Crusades, was fined £50 and convicted of a public order offence for burning replica poppies on Remembrance Day in London in 2011.

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the police are control freaks too much power goes to there heads

absolute power corrupts absolutely, though I must say it was a disrespectful and downright disgusting thing to do, but we do live in a democrocy where we have the right to free speach and expression.
As long as it satisifies the state storm troopers that is.

The poppy is mark of respect for those who have given their life, it is used to raise funds to provide support for the injured, if the person iss unable to show respect on a national day I won't lose any sleep over his treatment

i think it is over the top to arrest him although some sort of punishment is due for what he has done, he should be made to realise for him to have his right say and do what he wants men and women have given up their lives for him and the poppy is the symbol of their sacrifice.

Why are people so inistant that free speech should go away? If some douche says something then ignore him. Cutting peoples right to speak will not solve anything but hurt feelings. When it is your speech that is not allowed then it will be too late. Stop it now. A ban of this and that just grows and grows till it is something you feel is important. Freedom that was fought for and won? Those men who died were harder than you. They understood that an insult is not a mortar not a gun. You want freedom then don't oppress even when the words make you sick.

Please can someone tell me what happens to the 45 million poppies after Remembrance Day? I don't want to dispose of it in a way that will offend anyone.

What's wrong with these morons who think it's funny to burn a poppy and call squaddies cxxxs.Hiding behind "Freedom of Speech" seems to be in vogue to allow anyone to say anything no matter how much it offends.. Is this the kind of freedom of that was fought for I think not.

I am totallly confused now, can someone help me? Big Brother watch in this article, state that it is NOT illegal to offend anyone. So if I chose to make remarks to a person on the grounds of their race, colour, or sexuality to offend them, then this is perfectly ok? really? I understood that there were laws in place to prevent this? Am I wrong on this? or can you indeeed walk around and insult anyone you choose on any grounds you choose?

NastySmallFink & TezD (wannabe 'Bulldog'?) - and when They've been & come & gone for all the others over whom you lost no sleep, when they come for you there'll be none to cry.

Tolerance & freedom requires freedom for the intolerant, idiotic & ugly.

War is a foul and terrifying business. WW1 was a political blunder and a crime and it is high time to recognise it. So too the war in Afghanistan. To me the burning of the poppy by a 17 year old boy expresses an uneasiness with possible comtempt. So many of his age were ordered over the top at gunpoint. 98 years ago he could have been just another poppy.
Lest we forget