25 September 2009

Laxton's Intention Found

I've been following the misfortune of Laxton of the FO since February.

In short, he had an outburst at his local gymn while watching news footage of Israeli aggression in Gaza. His outburst consisted of him using the admitted language, "f***ing Israelis" and the reported but denied language, "f***ing Jews". For this he was charged with 'inciting racial hatred'.

I found the statute and found that one of the elements of the offence was that he would be guilty if he "intends to stir up religious hatred".

At first I was quite puzzled as to why he would be charged; having a tantrum didn't suggest to me an intention to do anything. But upon further reflection I wondered about oblique intention. An oblique intention is said to occur if you can foresee the certainty of a consequence of your action. The standard explanation in law books is, if you saw threw a stone at someone behind a window, with the intention of hitting that person with the stone; you have an oblique intention of breaking the window. That is, the consequence of your action can be foreseen with certainty.

Returning to Laxton. It is foreseeable with certainty that a consequence of having a tantrum in a public place such that inflammatory language is used can stir up racial hatred. Laxton didn't know who was in the gym at the time; other people who may not have been as civilised as he may have been watching the same news channel, his outburst could have lit the blue touch paper.

In my original, well, updated post; I gave odds of 60:40 for conviction. Laxton was convicted yesterday and given a £ 350 fine.

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