Let’s all stop this nonsense about the word “cunt”

OK, look everybody. I know it is appealing to think that John Graham Kerlen – “Olly Cromwell” has been convicted for using the word “cunt”, and that now the word “cunt” is illegal on Twitter, but that really is NOT the point.

The fact is that Kerlen was found guilty under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 for a communication which included a photograph of a public figure’s house, and was followed by the words, “feel free to post actual shit”

In fact, I’d suggest that if Kerlen had substituted the word “cunt” with the word “councillor”, he would still have been convicted.

“Which councillor lives in a house like this. Answers on a postcard to #bexleycouncil”

But here’s the thing…

Do we really think that Kerlen represented a threat? If he had been genuinely harrassing the council, shouldn’t he have been tried subject to the harrassment law under which he was originally arrested? If he had been genuinely encouraging his followers to post faeces through the letterbox of this councillor, shouldn’t he have been tried for inciting criminal damage? Another charge for which he was originally arrested.

Is there the tiniest possibility that the CPS realised that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to secure a conviction on either of these charges, and instead opted for a charge under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 as an easy way to secure a conviction?

If this is the case, then we should be very worried. This means that section 127 is now recognised as an easy way to secure a conviction when you know that an alternative charge would never pass an evidential test.

19 thoughts on “Let’s all stop this nonsense about the word “cunt”

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head here. It is ‘menacing’ & ‘threatening’ to have a photo of your house put on twitter given the v aggressive stance taken by John Kerlen towards the peple he campaigns against on his wensite. And not only in this matter either. He appears – from a google search – to have a past history of South African activism with a campaign for a Free Cape Town & a campaign against Vodaphone for selling shares to black South Africans. Not sure I’d want him standing outside my house.

  2. J Davidson, you would never make a journalist! That’s piss-poor research, did you actually find out what John’s REAL stance on that was? Because I did. And I know him. Do you?

    • To be fair, his stance on SA or Vodafone isn’t really relevant to the case we’re discussing, but I suppose people may make character judgments on the basis of this, so any illumination is helpful, I’m sure!

      • J Davidson is being disingenuous. The campaign was against vodafone selling shares only to black people and therefore preventing their sale to white people. Rather a different slant than that written above.

    • I’ve been waiting for this report! Thanks for the link.

      Its probably worth noting that the report also says:

      “Returning a guilty verdict, District Judge Julia Newton said the tweets were both grossly offensive and menacing. ”

      I’d take from that that the Judge is calling the tone of the message offensive, and the photograph accompanied by the threat to publish an address, invitation to “post actual shit” is menacing.

      • This is probably something to do with the Collins reasoning that the character can be established if the message is found to be grossly offensive to whom it relates and that the sender is aware of this. Again, we have a woefully inadequate case law precedent in DPP v Collins.

  3. You are right, Matt. This demonstrates how s127 is such a prosecution catch-all. But I’m much more alarmed by the prosecution of Azhar Ahmed than by this instance.

  4. Everyone has to realise that this is not a case to be associated with in the quest for protecting our freedoms.This has been a furore over wether calling someone a name is now illegal.This simply is not the case as this idiot that has suddenly found his five minutes of fame clearly went over the mark of what is and should always be unacceptable.Look at this from the councilors side for one moment.This man lives opposite him and clearly has issues with Bexley council,not the councilor himself.The councilor is told that this crank has posted a photo of his house on his activist twitter account and said “Which cunt lives at a house like this?answers on a postcard to Bexley council.Then he post the words “silly of me not to have put an address,that will come later.Please feel free to post actual shit”.Who can say that this is not both offensive and menacing?.Come on people recognise that you have been duped by this idiot Kerlan and his propagandamongers and get back to real issues.

  5. Olly Cromwell / John Kerlen has been in touch with me earlier today to clarify on some of the points raised in the comments thread above.

    John was born and grew up in South Africa, having a liberal upbringing in which he was taught to respect people of all colours and creeds. He states that it was his connection with the country which led him to a desire to be involved in South African politics.

    It was as a result of this desire that he became involved with Cape Party in 2009 / 2010 after a visit to the South Africa. John felt that the party represented a fresh approach to libertarian politics. He states that he became involved because he felt that the party was a genuine alternative to the status quo, and would combat what he saw as political corruption in South African, but eventually came to the realisation that the party was attracting white supremacists, at which point he ceased his involvement with the party.

    He also says that his involvement in the Vodafone campaign during this period came out of a genuine desire to stamp out racial discrimination of any kind. On a personal note, I must add that I understand this desire to make colour, ethnicity and religion irrelevant to everybody’s lives, but that perhaps it was naive of John to expect South Africa to be able to simply wipe the slate clear of such considerations so soon after after the privations of apartheid.

    John states that he was never involved with any white supremacist agendas during this time, or at any time before or since, and has expressed a sincere desire to dissociate himself from any such element with the Cape Party.

    John wrote me a long, exhaustive and detailed email on this subject, and I see no reason to dispute his account of events.

    I hope this helps to clarify things for everybody.

  6. So basically, the guy has form for mixing political idealism with piss poor judgement? Seems to tie up with the whole Twitter thing.

    Being a liberal lefty i’d defend his right to be a moron to the bitter end, but i’d also suggest the cunt/Councillor has the right not to have dog turds posted through their letterbox. Hell, I’d find it pretty fucking offensive if somebody provided a photo of my house and suggested people post shit through my door – that’s not political activism, that’s antisocial behaviour.

    I’d be outraged if he’d been convicted for suggesting people send compelling letters of complaint to the appropriate authority, but as it stands he just sounds a bit of a fuckwit.

  7. Err……isn’t everyones house on google? a) the person it was aimed at was never named b) the address was never disclosed c) the address is availbel on bexley council website d) the councillor lied under oath. I know this…i was there. he lied about the accused slamming the door in his face when in fact he was advising him about moving his car when he moved in and to get on the electoral roll which he did and thanked the councillor e) the councillor was only notified of the tweets by a third party and the first time he saw them was in court. so before you spoout your mouths off check the facts

    • Item (d) above is the really interesting one. This is an allegation of perjury, which if true should be dealt with in the most serious terms. The suggestion that a public official has lied to a court is an extremely serious and damaging allegation.

      In fact, if you were indeed a witness to the event which you say occurred differently to the evidence given in court, this really should be reported.

      • Bullshit Bob.Was you really at court. Whose word are you taking about what happend with the councilor?If the councillor did what you said then why did this man stick this mans house up and be offensive and menacing after being helpful?Also what does spoout and availbel mean? and why dont you put your photo up of your house so i can try to incite someone to post actual shit to you!

        • This site is nothing more than Olly C’s mates trying to put spin and illusion on this story.Shame that the Guardian poured cold water on this bullshit and drove a coach and horse through Kerlan and his cronies version of events,still keep trying and one day the FACTS might actually be on your side! Power to the people!

  8. Thought you might all like to know that John has been cleared on appeal..

    Appeal judge stated that in his opinion, the tweets were not menacing in any way.