The CPS took over five months to decide not to prosecute the case, deciding that there was no realistic prospect of a jury finding that Bedford-Turner’s speech amounted to incitement to racial or religious hatred (using threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour with the intention (or likely consequence) of stirring up racial or religious hatred).
CAA’s Chairman, Gideon Falter, who had witnessed the speech, applied for Victims’ Right to Review, but was told by the CPS that he was not a victim and had no victim’s rights. Faced with no alternative, CAA took the unusual step of issuing judicial review proceedings to submit the CPS decision to the scrutiny of the High Court.
CAA was partly motivated by a growing concern that the CPS is failing to take antisemitic crime seriously. 2015, the year in which the crime was committed, was the worst year on record for antisemitic hate crime. Yet of 15,442 prosecutions of hate crimes by the CPS, only 12 were prosecutions of antisemitic hate crime.
Whilst waiting for the High Court to decide whether to allow CAA to proceed, the case was brought to the attention of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Chief Executive of the CPS.
On 6th January 2017, the Hon. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave gave CAA’s judicial review permission to proceed on all grounds and limited CAA’s cost liability to zero. He held that this case “raises potentially important issues for society in this growing area of racist and religious hate crime.” The case was expedited to be held before a Divisional Court of the Administrative Division of the High Court on Wednesday 8th March.
On the eve of the hearing, after more than a year of maintaining that her decision was correct, the Director of Public Prosecutions agreed that the decision should be quashed and taken again by a more senior lawyer.
The Director of Public Prosecutions’ capitulation comes as a representative survey of 1,864 British Jews found extremely low confidence in the CPS and the authorities. CAA’s 2016 Antisemitism Barometer research has not yet been published, however CAA has released the results from the research pertaining to confidence in the CPS:
- Only 26% of British Jews think the CPS does enough to protect British Jews.
- Only 23% of British Jews think that the authorities are doing enough toaddress and punish antisemitism.
- Only 46% of British Jews have confidence that if they reported a hatecrime, it would be prosecuted if there was enough evidence.
CAA was represented pro bono by leading counsel Brian Kennelly QC, junior counsel Jamie Susskind, and solicitor David Sonn.
Gideon Falter, Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “We are delighted by this result, but for more than a year it has been clear that the DPP could not win. It is a disgrace that we have had to litigate for the DPP to reconsider the absurd decision not to prosecute this brazen neo-Nazi.
The question now is why the CPS seems to demonstrate such incompetence in dealing with cases of antisemitism. Despite record levels of antisemitic crime, there are dismally few prosecutions of antisemites in Britain every year. Antisemites are becoming bolder and British Jews are losing faith in the authorities. The CPS must stop making excuses and prosecute antisemites with zero tolerance. If they do not, we will continue to hold them to account in court.”
Brian Kennelly QC, leading counsel in the judicial review, said: “The CPS has acknowledged that in future it must apply Article 17 of the European Human Rights Convention in cases of antisemitic hate speech. This provides that the right to free speech does not extend to those who would destroy that right.”