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Lord: Hate laws are not effective enough
11:40am Saturday 4th December 2010
Lord Avesbury has called for an investigation into why the CPS had only brought one case against incitement to religious hatred since the law came into being four years ago
A human rights lawyer has called for a change in the law after no charges were brought over alleged hate crimes stemming from a leaflet handed out in Kingston.
Kingston police launched an investigation into suspected hate crime against an Islamic minority sect after leaflets were allegedly distributed in the town centre on July 6.
A teenage Ahmadi girl, who did not want to be named, gave them a statement claiming the leaflet, which was written in Urdu, said: “Kill a Qadiyani [Ahmadiyya] and doors to heaven will be open to you”.
But Kingston police later said it had never been handed the leaflet and had not received any other allegations.
The incident led to complaints of hate speeches, leaflets, and boycotts against members of the Ahmadiyya community, an Islamic minority sect, across south west London.
Evidence included video footage from a conference at the Tooting Islamic Centre (TIC), in which scholars called for a boycott of Ahmadi-run businesses and urged attendees not to associate with Ahmadis.
Last month, the Crown prosecutor for Wandsworth, Hilary Ryan, said the allegations fell short of being criminally actionable.
Lord Eric Avebury, an 82-year-old Liberal Democrat peer, said the threshold for prosecution was too high.
Lord Avebury, vice-chairman of the Government’s Parliamentary Human Rights Group, also called for an investigation into why the CPS had only brought one case against incitement to religious hatred since the law came into being four years ago.
He said: “I believe the law on incitement to religious hatred has not been effective, partly because the prosecution has to prove not only that the accused did incite, but that he intended to do so.
“At any rate, there has been only one case brought since the law was enacted, over a four-year period when incitement was becoming more prevalent.
“The reasons for this inactivity by the CPS need to be investigated.”
A CPS spokesman said: “A CPS London prosecutor gave initial advice that the material submitted could not constitute an offence.
“If the police ask for a full review of the material, the file will be passed to the central casework divisions.”
A spokesman for the Ahmadiyya community, which is based at the Bait-ul-Fatah mosque in London Road, said it was seeking independent legal advice before thinking about pursuing a judicial review of the claims.