David Davis comments on police who went to home of Twitter user who criticised Ukip


As published in the Daily Mail:
MP condemns police for send two officers to home of Twitter user who criticised Ukip

An education official was visited by police because he had upset Ukip on Twitter.

Officers knocked at Michael Abberton’s door to question him about a mocked-up poster he had placed online that criticised the Eurosceptic party’s policies.

They asked him about his intentions toward Ukip’ and suggested he should tell no one that the visit had taken place.

Mr Abberton, a Green party member, said police had overstepped the mark. The Cambridgeshire force said it had acted over a possible breach of electoral law.

But their heavy-handed actions were condemned by civil rights campaigners and politicians from across the political spectrum.

David Davis, a former Tory home affairs spokesman, said the incident could have a chilling effect’ on freedom of expression. This is the opposite of what the traditions of British democracy and free speech are all about,’ he said.

And the Green Party said it would write to the Home Secretary to demand an investigation into why the visit took place.

Mr Abberton, who works as an assessor for an exam board, used his Twitter account last week to post a spoof Ukip poster, which supposedly listed the party’s policies.

The poster had originally been produced by an online activist who was unknown to Mr Abberton.
The 47-year-old, from Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, said two officers arrived at his home, one wearing a bodycam to record evidence.

It did stress me out because I didn’t know what to do,’ he said. I couldn’t believe it had happened.

I’ve never had any contact with police apart from the odd demo.’ He added: When they asked me to take the tweet down they said obviously we can’t force you to do that because of freedom of speech.’

A police spokesman said officers had intervened because the post was sent out a fortnight before European and local elections.

He added: Inquiries were made as to whether any offences had been committed under the Representation of the People Act but none were revealed and no further action was taken.’

The act forbids the publishing of false statements about candidates ahead of polls, and bans people from impersonating a candidate. The complaint came from a Ukip councillor.

Emma Carr of Big Brother Watch said: It is time that the police focus on bringing to justice those who seek harm, not those who cause offence.’

Peter Burkinshaw, secretary of Ukip’s Cambridge branch, said: I don’t understand why the police would go round.’