Today, a 23 year old woman was remanded in custody pending sentencing, after pleading guilty to writing ‘words in a box’ on Twitter that were deemed by the CPS to be menacing. She was one of two people charged under section 127(1)(a) of the Communications Act 2003 – a rotten piece of legislation about which much has been written over the past few years, all kicked off by the ordeal that Paul Chambers went through when charged under this legislation prior to the CPS issuing guidelines on its application to social media.
So, type some words, go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not cash your giro. Pretty disgusting, really. And whatever words were typed, this is more disgusting.
There is also the suggestion that the law targeted this pair because the ‘hardcore trolls’ who work under cover of anonymity are too hard to find. They had to be seen to be doing something.
"These are just two people – there are many others who said the most awful, graphic things to me and they are not even under investigation. It feels very much like a pyrrhic victory."
Criado-Perez said other threats had described mutilating her genitalia, stalking her outside her house, beating and gang-raping her. "It doesn’t feel like justice has been done when those people are just going to get away with it. The two people who pleaded guilty today are just the ones the police could track – the others are walking free."
The actual words in a box written by Isabella Sorley have not been published at this time (I’m sure you could find them if you Googled hard enough), but I think we can be certain there’s nothing to commend them.
It seems, though, that they must somehow have been deemed more serious than those of John Nimmo who was bailed rather than remanded in custody.
Or perhaps other considerations were in play. Does she have a longer rap sheet than him? History of absconding or not answering bail? It’ll be interesting to know more about this.
What’s certain is that a woman who is a first class internet attention seeker, whose Twitter bio says “Feminism is here to liberate women – all women. Including the ones you don’t like” made a complaint about words posted to her on Twitter, resulting in a woman being imprisoned.
Script that, Linehan!
UPDATE: The plot thickens, and my wonderings about Sorley’s criminal record weren’t far off the mark.
She also sent the message: "I’ve only just got out of prison and would happily do more time to see you berried!!(sic) #tenfeetunder not scared at what you will do!"
The article linked also has more details of what the two offenders posted:
In a separate set of messages sent to Criado-Perez, John Nimmo, 25, told her "shut up bitch" and "Ya not that gd looking to rape u be fine" followed by "I will find you (smiley face)" and then the message "rape her nice ass", the court was told.
I have to say, while I don’t think these tweets are particularly pleasant, I don’t see them as particularly menacing – more like ill-advised idle nonsense.
It’s a real shame that Nimmo pleaded guilty, because it’d have been interesting to see the charges against him tested in court.
I don’t know whether the recipient of the messages is genuine or hamming it up in her victim impact statement, but I’m shaking my head either way:
"Caroline Criado-Perez has suffered life-changing psychological effects from the abuse which she received on Twitter," she told the court.
"In particular, the menacing nature of the tweets sent by both defendants caused her significant fear that they would find her and carry out their threats," she said.
Life changing psychological effects from the abuse she received on Twitter? *Sigh* If only there was some way to block or mute unpleasant people on Twitter.