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The man in jail since Friday who we cant name but you all know - reasons for us all to be fearful

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 28 May 2018

Since Friday a young man, whose name you must all know by now, has been languishing in prison in very real danger of being attacked by his fellow inmates. I cannot say who he is because the Judge who sent him down for thirteen months has imposed draconian reporting restrictions. But you all know his name - it is all over social media and a video of his arrest has been watched 1.5 million times on youtube already.

Let us be clear this young man has some ghastly views and I do not wish to defend those views for a second. Before his supporters comment that he is misunderstood, I have read enough to satisfy me that his views are repugnant. Please do not bother trying to convince me otherwise. Nor is he, as his supporters insist, a journalist. He is an agitator and a campaigner. But that is not the point.

The details of what exactly happened are unclear thanks to the reporting restrictions but it seems that last year he filmed inside a court trying men on horrible rape charges and was given a three month suspended sentence. On Friday he was filming outside a court where other men were on trial facing horrible rape charges. That was seen by the judge as a breach and he was quickly arrested and without proper legal representation tried and sentenced and a reporting ban issued all within six hours.

I compare the actions of West Yorks Police with those of another force when Cliff Richard's home was raided. That force invited in the BBC although Richard has been shown to be innocent. The Police welcomed coverage of their belated actions against Saville, Hall, Harris and the other celeb nonces - there seems a bit of a contrast here.

There may be more to this case but thanks to the reporting restrictions we do not know. It seems on the surface of it a sinister way for the State to deal with a fringe politician it despises. Of course social media is ignoring any ban and this young man is now seen as a martyr and a hero by vast numbers. That is an unintended, utterly predictable, and thoroughly regrettable, consequence of the actions of the state

Some on the left, such as the Guardian's pipsqueak columnist Owen Jones, have cheered on this imprisonment because of what the young man believes. Be careful Owen, one day the State may decide your views are unacceptable. The issue is not whether this young man's views are loathsome. I think they are. The issue is one of a free press and basic civil liberties for all of us as citizens. In that vein, I find events on Friday as hugely disturbing and cannot see why that should be a matter of debate back in Airstrip One.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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