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Someone on the radio, discussing Twitter abuse cases like this one, seemed to think that the thing that made a message illegal was being “menacing”. But the law is broader than that; from the Malicious Communications Act 1988:

(1) Any person who sends to another person—

(a) a letter, electronic communication or article of any description which conveys—

(i) a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;

(ii) a threat; or

(iii) information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; or

(b) any article or electronic communication which is, in whole or part, of an indecent or grossly offensive nature,

is guilty of an offence if his purpose, or one of his purposes, in sending it is that it should, so far as falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above, cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents or nature should be communicated.

I think that makes quite a lot of online unpleasantness illegal, although you wouldn’t know it from the scanty levels of enforcement.

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According to Theo Paphitis (who I’d never heard of before today):

“So, technically, those of us who have a job and are still in work, and not worried about losing our job, have actually been better off, so he [Lord Young] was technically correct.”

Christopher Hope adds:

“Many grassroots Tories will say Lord Young of Graffham, David Cameron’s enterprise adviser, has resigned for speaking the truth.”

What Lord Young said, according to the Telegraph:

“For the vast majority of people in the country today they have never had it so good ever since this recession — this so-called recession — started, because anybody, most people with a mortgage who were paying a lot of money each month, suddenly started paying very little each month. That could make three, four, five, six hundred pounds a month difference, free of tax.”

NSO reports that 39% of houses are mortgaged in England. That’s not a majority at all, let alone a vast one; the best you could say is perhaps “a substantial minority”. (And for those whose mortgage payments have gone down, the cost of other things has gone up, and in many cases their salary probably hasn’t; for at least some of them the balance may turn out to be negative.) So no, he wasn’t speaking the truth or even something ‘technically correct’; it was a load of nonsense and he and his supporters ought to know better.

(The Telegraph has a more detailed analysis.)

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This may be news, but I don’t think it’s front-page news. “Notorious serial killer to be released” would be front-page news, “Notorious serial killer to stay in jail” is simply not that unusual.

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From http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/guernsey/7866103.stm:

he raised two extremely rare bronze canons, measuring 12ft (3.6m) and weighing four tonnes, which could only have belonged to the British man-of-war.

I'd not realized we'd deployed robot priests against the French prior to the Napoleonic wars.

[the Admiral's] ancestor Sir Robert Balchin said: "A piece of my family history and of national history has come alive."

...I'd also not realized that the BBC were able to interview people who'd been dead for centuries. (Unless Sir Robert has lived several times his three score and ten, that is.)

(They've fixed both mistakes now. But I saved a copy of the more amusing version.)

August 2017

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