It appears that free speech died today. Well, in Bexley anyway … as blogger and tweeter Olly Cromwell, who was found guilty of calling a councillor the C word on twitter, was sentenced at a court hearing in Bromley today. The judge handed out a 12 month community service order AND a 5 year restraining order against Olly Cromwell following a twitter trial in April where he was found guilty, under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, of making a grossly offensive and menacing comment towards a Bexleyheath councillor.
The five year restraining order means that Olly Cromwell is prohibited from any contact with any Bexleyheath councillor, either physically or via social media networks. No blogging. No tweeting. No Facebooking. And, presumably, he’s not allowed to attend any public Bexley Council meetings either.
For 5 years.
Now, call me old fashioned, if you like, but that’s a gagging order isn’t it? For calling a councillor a c*nt on Twitter? And the councillor in question didn’t even see the tweet? Eh? So that’s that then. Precedent set.
More from me later.
+++ UPDATE +++
Here’s an idea from Unnamed Insider, via Twitter, which could make things a tad interesting at the next Bexley Council meeting :
Incidentally, I see that Bexley Council have a meeting to elect a new Mayor next Wednesday, 16th May at the Civic Offices, 7.30pm sharp. Just saying ;-)
+++ UPDATE : 17:25 hrs +++
I believe that an appeal against the sentence has now been lodged and you can read the official press release from Olly Cromwell’s solicitors, Aletta Shaw, HERE.