Azhar Ahmed and the truth about free speech in Britain


The arrest of 19 year old Azhar Ahmed for “a racially aggravated public order offence” has provoked a flurry of controversy over the suppression of free speech. Sadly, one of the great myths of our age is that free speech ever existed in Britain.

One of the restrictions on free speech is that no one has the right to shout fire in a crowded theatre; this is not purely a metaphor, there have indeed been instances of people doing this in the past and causing fatal panics.

Another restriction is the law of defamation. If you are branded a murderer, rapist or some such, it is not inconceivable that you may be assaulted or worse by a vigilante. In August 2005, an innocent Australian tourist was murdered in his London hotel room in an apparent case of mistaken identity. He bore a striking similarity to a convicted paedophile.

There are all sorts of other restrictions too including confidentiality, obscenity and privacy. The place and context of language can also be important. Language that might be perfectly acceptable in all male company at a boozy private function would not be acceptable in front of the Queen or in a nursery. Then there are such things as common decency. The two DJs who made unflattering comments about the recently deceased Whitney Houston would have attracted less outrage if they had done so two or three years from now.

Britain is believed to have a long tradition of free speech, there is even a Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park where people can stand on soap boxes and shout their grievances to the world. In front of uniformed police officers, and probably not a few plainclothes ones. But Speakers’ Corner is a purely cosmetic exercise.

As long ago as 1670, William Penn was arrested for preaching an illegal Quaker sermon. This case is remembered more for its aftermath – jury nullification – than for the sermon itself, but it serves to remind us that three hundred and more years ago the authorities had no problem with arresting people for making what today we would consider innocuous claims or comments. It remains to be seen though if anyone was ever arrested in the 17th Century for making homophobic comments, because at that time, the English language had not been perverted by the politically correct and similar lobbies to encompass the concepts of hate crime and even thought crime.

From at least the 18th Century, there have been attempts by non-government bodies to suppress supposedly controversial publications, like the infamous Burton manuscript; attempts to suppress freedom of speech on the grounds of incitement date to at least the 1920s, the organised left has been in the forefront of this movement, which at that time was concerned primarily with Fascism, and also with anti-Semitism, the two often being wilfully and mendaciously packaged together.

According to a Special Branch report of October 11, 1923, the inaugural meeting of the London branch of the British Fascisti was disrupted by extremists. The British Fascisti – later the British Fascists – was in fact more of a radical Conservative and traditionalist organisation than a Fascist one; its founder, Miss Lintorn-Orman, was said to have borrowed the name and very little else from the Italian Fascists. Be that as it may, at that time, the British state did not pay too much attention to the nascent fascist movement, but as it developed parallel to the Nazi movement in Germany, the police and others began to infiltrate it and act against it, and also to some extent against the violent, self-styled anti-fascist movement.

In 1936, the British Fascist Arnold Leese was dragged into court for seditious libel. Leese was a distinguished veterinary surgeon who had served in both Imperial India and in the British Army during the Great War. His outstanding contribution to mankind was his self-published textbook A Treatise on the One-Humped Camel in Health and in Disease, which was a standard work in India for half a century. Unfortunately, on his return to Britain he was introduced to the Protocols Of Zion by Arthur Kitson, a contemporary and fellow traveller of the great Major Douglas, and from then on he had Jews on the brain.

Leese published a monthly newspaper called The Fascist in support of his party The Imperial Fascist League, and in a signed article



that appeared in the July 1936 issue, he wrote:

“It is well established, in spite of many shameless denials, that Jews practice a ritual murder of Christians in order to obtain fresh blood to mix in their Passover bread.”

This caused a stir in Parliament, leading an MP to refer him to the Attorney-General.

As a result, Leese and his printer Walter Whitehead ended up in the dock at the Central Criminal Court on six charges. In addition to the above offending phrase, the Crown objected to the claim that Jews were not wanted anywhere on Earth. This was rather ironic because shortly Jewish leaders would be making similar claims in relation to the Nazi persecutions with the sub-text that they should be permitted to emigrate freely to Palestine.

Leese relished the prospect of proving the reality of Jewish ritual murder but was informed that proof was no justification. In spite of this, both he and Whitehead were acquitted of the major charges relating to seditious libel, but were convicted of conspiring to effect a public mischief and of succeeding in so doing. Both defendants were fined, but while Whitehead coughed up, Leese elected to martyr himself and was sentenced to six months in lieu.

On his release he published a pamphlet about Jewish ritual murder, and his experience at the hands of the legal authorities made him more convinced than ever that Britain was controlled lock, stock and barrel by Jews.

Although Leese had initially been a great admirer of Adolf Hitler, after the Nazi invasion of Norway his ardour cooled considerably. On April 19, 1940, he spoke at an IFL meeting “stating his disgust at the German action in Norway” and suggested that Hitler should resign in favour of Goering; according to an official report (found in PRO file HO 45/24967) this did not go down well with his audience.

In spite of this, Leese was still arrested and interned under Regulation 18B later in the war.

After the Second World War he was charged with criminal libel on the Police Commissioner Sir Harold Scott, and was acquitted, an experience that gave him something to crow about.

Also shortly after the Second World War, the owner of a reputable newspaper found himself in court charged with seditious libel. Jame Caunt was the publisher and editor of The Visitor MORECAMBE & HEYSHAM. In its August 6, 1947 edition he wrote a strongly worded editorial in the MUSTARD column relating to the Zionist terror campaign in Palestine. Referring to the murder of 21 year old Albert Dean – who was shot in the back – Caunt said Leeds Jewry, who had condemned the terror campaign, were expressing mock horror “merely face-saving propaganda” adding:

“IT is not sufficient for British Jews – who have proved to be the worst black-market offenders – to rush into print with howls of horror and sudden wreaths at Cenotaphs.”

Deeds had to be matched with words. The previous year, Caunt had visited the USA where he had witnessed violent anti-British propaganda in the Zionist press and elsewhere. He said that British Jews should use their influence to cut off the funding for Jewish terrorists in Palestine.

“There is growing feeling that Britain is in the grip of Jews. There are more Jewish M.P.’s than at any time in English history...” [MPs are elected, of course].

A jury of seven men took just 13 minutes to acquit him. He was quoted thus in the November 21, 1947 edition of the Jewish Chronicle:

“Officials of the Socialist Party seem to think that anyone who criticises the Jews must be a Fascist. I need hardly say I am not a Fascist.” Caunt’s editorial was obviously the work of an angry man rather than an anti-Semitic one.

Another person who was jumped on from a great height because of his anti-Semitic writings was Colin Jordan. When Arnold Leese died in January 1956, it was Jordan who inherited his mantle; unlike Leese, Jordan, who became a convert to National Socialism shortly after the Second World War, shouted his admiration for Hitler from the rooftops until he drew his final breath; having said that, he espoused a far less rabid, intellectual anti-Semitism than his mentor. He was also not without a sense of humour, and it was this that was to lead to his most significant battle with the law, in the 1990s.

Like Benjamin Netanyahu, Colin Jordan believed Israel controlled America, and his publication of a cartoon depicting Uncle Sam as Uncle Sol led to an official complaint from the Jewish MP Gerald Kaufman, and a raid on his premises by West Yorkshire plod who it seems had nothing better to do than take away some sixty boxes of documents. Unfortunately for them, they made an error in the warrant, and Jordan was eventually to sue them and obtain a five figure sum.

With the spite and vindictiveness that is well known to observers of the British police, he was later charged – together with his printer – in connection with a short story that he had written about a dystopian future Britain.

The case against Jordan was dropped due to his ill health, but the police pressed on with the case against his printer, who was acquitted. Colin Jordan died in April 2009, and with a delicious irony, Gerald Kaufman, the man responsible for the cartoon caper, would soon find himself ostracised by the Jewish establishment in exactly the same manner as Britain’s leading Nazi. The reason can be found here (from column 407). Kaufman’s principled stand on the issue of Palestine led to his being accused in some quarters of promoting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Perish the thought.

The treatment meted out to one geriatric hatemonger over a cartoon that had extremely limited distribution – and more than a grain of truth to it – was in stark contrast to the reaction of the British and European media to the series of gratuitously blasphemous cartoons that were published a few years later, and which caused uproar with Moslems worldwide – as clearly they were intended to. In addition to the persecution of the innocent, the selective prosecution that comes with this territory is clearly an abrogation of the rule of law.

From the 1960s, a series of Draconian so-called race relations acts has been passed, acts which have been supported for the most part uncritically by the so-called radical left. Although most of those who have fallen foul of these pernicious thought crime laws have been white – including Nick Griffin – blacks have also been caught in the net. In 1967, Michael X was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for among other things threatening to kill any white man who laid hands on a black woman – which surely makes him a fellow traveller of Harold Covington. Or did up to a point. In 1972 he murdered a white woman, Gail Benson. Although he was never tried for her murder, he was hanged for another one at Port of Spain in 1975.

In recent years we have seen the authorities bring all manner of prosecutions which in the United States would be regarded as ludicrous, like the on-going John Terry case.

It is though not only people exercising their non-existent right to free speech on racial issues who have ended up in court, there have on occasion been prosecutions for both blasphemous libel and obscenity. Although these former were few and far between in the 20th Century, the power was still there. In 1921, the serial blasphemer John William Gott (1866-1922) was sentenced to 9 months’ imprisonment at hard labour for portraying Jesus as a circus clown. He died shortly after his release, his death hastened, apparently, by the harsh conditions under which he was held.

What has long been regarded as likely to be the last ever such prosecution in this country was the notorious Gay News trial of 1977. This arose after Mrs Mary Whitehouse (herself satirised as one half of Mary Long), brought a private prosecution against Denis Lemon, the Editor of Gay News for publishing one of the most disgusting poems ever written, The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name. The poem’s title comes of course from that much vaunted bisexual philanderer Oscar Wilde, but one suspects that even the thoroughly depraved Wilde would have stopped a light year short of depicting the body of Jesus Christ as an object of sexual desire by a Roman Centurion.

James Kirkup, who wrote the poem, was not prosecuted. The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name was published in June 1976. The following year, Lemon and Gay News Ltd were fined, and he was given a suspended sentence. Whatever one thinks of the law of blasphemy, if ever a poem deserved to be prosecuted under it, it was this one. The only defence that one can muster for such depravity is that of freedom of expression, but in all honesty, the prosecution should never have been brought, and Lemon should have been left to wallow in his own filth.

Mary Whitehouse died at the age of 91 and went to Heaven; fittingly, Denis Lemon died of AIDS shortly before his 49th birthday.

Regarding obscenity, there have been a number of trials relating to this over the course of the 20th Century, and some since. Probably the most notorious was that concerning the publication of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a novel by D.H. Lawrence. Written in 1928, it was not published until 1960 – Lawrence died in 1930. The publisher, Penguin, sent 12 advance copies to the Director of Public Prosecutions challenging him to prosecute. He did. And lost.

Nowadays, the carnal adventures of Lady Chatterley seem quite tame, the Oz Trial of 1971 though concerned not simply obscenity but conspiring to corrupt public morals. You can read a bit about it here; whether or not most people would consider it satire, it has to be admitted that this more than the Lady Chatterley trial made the authorities look stupid. It is difficult to credit that a police force would actually have an entire squad devoted to obscene publications, however they may be defined. Now, let us return at last to Azhar Ahmed.

Anne Sewell has covered his case in some depth in her article of March 14. It will be seen from the above that much censorship and restriction of free speech in Britain during the 20th Century and up to the present time concerned race and racial issues. Numerous lobbying groups, starting with various Jewish groups then socialist/leftist groups and finally groups purporting to represent one ethnic minority or other have all attempted to suppress legitimate debates about immigration into these islands, primarily of unassimilable minorities, legitimate issues regarding both racial and cultural differences, customs and so on.

The picture that has been painted is that all immigration has been beneficial to these islands and that anyone who suggests otherwise is a wicked racist and beyond the pale. That rosy picture has been shattered of late by the rise of Islamism and associated ideologies; most of these self-styled liberals who had a field day terrorising racists, subjecting them to ridicule satire, social persecution and at times violence and legal persecution have suddenly realised that their misnamed tolerance has led to the large scale colonisation of Britain and Ireland by people who do not share their so-called ideals.

Moslems in particular have no time for collectivism, they regard sexual liberation particularly of women as decadent and immoral; the drug scene that the so-called radicals of the 1960s embraced is anathema to them, and even the thought of homosexuality revolts them.

In addition to all this, they have their own concept of law, Sharia, an objective examination of which reveals both extreme fairness in judgment and in the apportioning of blame, and extremely severe sentences for those who transgress.

There has been much scaremongering about Sharia law, but the fact is that the discipline and self-discipline it preaches are not that dissimilar to traditional English values before all this liberal madness infected the minds of our rulers. Corporal punishment was a staple of British justice, in both prisons and schools; this has now been abolished totally being regarded as barbaric, but there can be no doubt that it is an effective deterrent for certain types of crime in places like Singapore, where it has been retained. Most prospective muggers and burglars would think twice, thrice and a dozen more times if they realised they would have to face something like this when they were brought to book.

Flogging might also be used as an alternative punishment for minor sexual assaults of even rapes, not for the likes of Antoni Imiela, but for first time and most likely one-off offenders. What is worse, making a man suffer intensely and briefly for his crime, or locking him up for years then discharging him to a hostel for the homeless and pressurising him into taking a menial job if any company is willing to employ him?

Moslems who openly express their revulsion of homosexuality have been targeted of late, but those who show or appear to show any sympathy for Al-Qaeda – in all its variants – come in, understandably, for much greater scrutiny. This appears to be why Azhar Ahmed has been singled out, but what did he actually write?

“All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL!”

That is the bottom line. We are all going to die eventually – in spite of Aubrey de Grey – and aren’t we told all the time by Christian fundaments that unless we repent, we will go to Hell?

One should also bear in mind the context of this post, it was written shortly after 16 innocent people were murdered in Afghanistan by an American soldier who appears to have “lost it” big time. As a Moslem, Azhar Ahmed is entitled to be angry at seeing his fellow Moslems murdered by someone who is supposed to be in Afghanistan to fight terrorists and to make it safe for democracy. Leaving aside the anger though, where does racially aggravated come in? Americans are not a race. It transpires now that the soldier concerned is white, but he could easily have been black, there are many blacks serving with the American forces, and not a few of other races, Hispanics for example.

There is absolutely no element of racial aggravation or racial anything in this statement; furthermore, he is simply expressing the same outrage that many non-Moslems feel, that the West has been duped by its leaders into fighting a series of unnecessary bloody wars – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya to some extent, what next – Iran? And for what? The current madness was instigated by the atrocities of 9/11, yet rather than being an antidote for the hate that led to 9/11 it has led to suffering on an enormous scale: American, British and soldiers of many other nationalities being sent home in body bags; others with their limbs and minds shattered; and for every dead or wounded Western soldier there must surely be ten or twenty natives who have suffered the same. There has been dehumanisation on both sides, torture, false imprisonment of innocents for years, and don’t let’s even mention the cost, every dollar wasted on these wars could have been spent productively at home.

There have been some quite mendacious and ludicrous prosecutions in Britain in recent years under this specious race relations and public order legislation, but this one must surely take the biscuit. If the non-case against Azhar Ahmed is not thrown out at committal, no one will be safe.

The big question is how do we combat this nonsense? In order to answer this, we must first ask why do the police and CPS lawyers bring such ludicrous charges in the first place? The simple answer is because they can. They do this because they have immunity; whatever duress, suffering or punishment they bring on innocent people, they know they will not be held personally accountable. Thus, in order to rectify this malady, we must make them personally accountable.

The reader will find some background to the problems posed by both blanket immunity and vicarious liability in The Wizard Of Oz Syndrome, but the simplest way to hold malicious prosecutors accountable would be to introduce wasted costs orders against them. This suggestion was made after the Coalition Government set up its short lived Your Freedom website. Like every other citizen’s initiative of the time it appears to have been noted and then forgotten. For police who transgress, hitting their pension funds with a big fine might be more suitable. The simple fact though is that as long as people are able to trample all over others with impunity, they will do so, that is why we have laws, but when the laws do not apply either to the law enforcers or the law makers, we have serious problems.

This is the major reason why except in very narrow fields there has never been a real tradition of free speech in Britain. Anyone who asserts otherwise is either a fool or a knave.

[The above op-ed was first published March 26. 2012.]

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