Versions of the law
11:31am Wednesday 13th June 2012 in Letters
Dear Editor Mrs la Croix (last week’s Letters) says she "perfectly understands the law" regarding freedom of expression under the Human Rights Act.
However, she fails to provide an explanation as to why the county council standards committee of which she was a member got it so spectacularly wrong in the case of Cllr Malcolm Calver.
It is not as if the committee were not made fully aware of the case law surrounding Article 10 of the Human Rights Act by the barrister acting for Cllr Calver.
For example Lord Hoffman stated in one case that: "a freedom which is restricted to what judges think to be responsible or in the public interest is no freedom" and that freedom of expression means "the right to publish things which government and judges, however well motivated, think should not be published".
And Sedley LJ in Redmond-Bates v DPP said that "freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having."
There are many other judicial pronouncements in similar vein.
But in her letter Cllr La Croix states that while she perfectly understands the law as laid down by the courts "this does not alter my opinion that honour, old-fashioned courtesy and consideration for others is demeaned by this law . . ."
So we have the law as it is, and the law as Mrs La Croix thinks it ought to be.
And having read all the reports on this case, it seems that the standards committee decision was based on something akin to Mrs La Croix’s version of the law rather than that which carries the authority of the courts.
Had it not been for Cllr Calver’s courage and determination in taking this case to judicial review, that version of the law would still hold sway in Pembrokeshire.
I notice that Mrs La Croix makes no attempt to explain why the standards committee of which she was a member determined that Cllr Brian Hall’s threats of physical violence against a BBB journalist were protected by the Human Rights Act, while Cllr Calver’s snide remarks about members of of Manorbier Community Council were not.
Yours sincerely Mike Stoddart