Terrorism in the digital age is an ever more complex area of law, especially in the current climate. Harris Solicitors understand this importance. The law relating to dissemination of terrorist material is more important now than ever before.
It may be that an individual has been reckless on the World Wide Web and was not aware that any offence had been committed. Understanding the law and having the right lawyer on your side from the very beginning is crucial. The team at Harris Solicitors are experienced lawyers in this area of the law.
Many of the groups named on the British Government’s Proscribed Terrorist Organisations list are extremely media savvy. The high quality production values of the Islamic State‘s online magazine Dabiq are well known, and whilst the disembowelling videos they circulate are the stuff of nightmares, terrorist propaganda is banned because – sometimes – it works.
In English law, the dissemination of terrorist publications is an offence under Section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006. This Act was brought in just after the 7/7 London bombings, and some of the provisions, including this offence, condoning or glorifying terrorism (section 1), and the detention provisions in sections 23 – 25, were controversial.
The section 2 offence includes the distribution, circulation, giving, selling, lending, offering for sale or loan, of a terrorist publication, or providing a service to others allowing them to obtain, read, listen to or look at such a publication, transmitting it electronically, or having possession of it with a view to doing of any of those things. The person disseminating must intend or be reckless as to whether his conduct in doing this encourages (whether directly or indirectly), induces or provides assistance to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
Harris solicitors recently advised and represented Mr H in his trial at the Old Bailey which raised a number of serious and complex issues within the section 2 offence.
Since freedom of expression was never a constitutional rock supporting the English legal system in the way it is in the United States, the courts and the state have traditionally not been slow to ban publications they considered offensive. Seditious libel, the law that was used to convict Thomas Paine for his book The Rights of Man, and criminal defamation, the precursor to modern hate crime, were offences until 2009.
The Court of Appeal in Brown  EWCA Crim 2751, the Anarchist Cookbook case, considered whether section 2 was compatible with article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to freedom of expression. Lord Judge considered that the right was subject to restrictions prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society in the interests of, among other things, national security and public safety. He took the view that a proportionate interference with the right to freedom of expression was legitimate in order to reduce, diminish, or extinguish acts of terrorism.
In any event, Article 17 of the European Convention prevents convention rights (freedom of expression) being used to extinguish other convention rights (e.g. right to life).
There have been a number of cases on the provision.
In Iqbal  EWCA Crim 3215 the Court of Appeal noted that the offence was international, in the sense that the offender would be guilty even with the intention of distributing the material abroad, and even if the terrorist acts were to be committed abroad.
In Faraz  EWCA Crim 2820 the Court of Appeal held that evidence that particular named terrorists had been found in possession of particular material was not admissible to disprove Mr Faraz’s defence that he was in possession of the material simply for interested readers and viewers, and where the content was designed to encourage an intelligent discussion of certain religious and political issues.
Rahman and Mohammed  1 Cr.App.R. (S.) 70 is the leading case on sentencing for this offence. Whether a defendant intends dissemination of terrorist publications to encourage the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or is merely reckless as to such consequences is likely to be significant when assessing culpability. However, large-scale dissemination of extremist material with recklessness or indifference as to its effect is capable of being more serious than a limited dissemination with intent to encourage terrorism. The volume and content of the material disseminated will be relevant to the harm caused, intended or foreseeable.
Overall, the Court took the view that there were a wide range of possible sentences for this offence.
Harris Solicitors instruct specialist barristers to deal with these complex issues and advise on the law. No stone is left unturned and every aspect of the case against an accused is vigorously checked.
Site by: Mill Web