Former CPS Director: ‘We don’t create thought crimes in this country’

The former head of the Crown Prosecution Service has emphasised that offending someone is not a criminal offence.

In an interview with The Guardian, Max Hill KC said politicians “should remember what free speech means” and that “we don’t create thought crimes in this country”.

Hill, who was also previously the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, called the Government’s new extremism definition “divisive” and “problematic”, warning that it will be “hard to limit only to what the government apparently intends”.

Free speech

The KC stated: “There are things that people think and things that people say and sometimes things that people do, which are offensive in the eyes of many, which cause reaction, but which we shouldn’t regard as crossing a line into criminal conduct.”

He warned: “We should remember that we don’t create thought crimes in this country.

“And that we go into very difficult territory if that is what we do, because it is very complex and difficult to draw up a definition, which captures true criminal conduct, but doesn’t at the same time capture ordinary if offensive conversation, which is part of free speech, political debate, the sorts of things that the people can engage in.”

‘Unnecessary threat’

Earlier this month, The Christian Institute warned that the Government’s new extremism definition is a “serious and unnecessary threat to free speech”.

Following the Prime Minister’s pledge to tackle “acts of violence” against Jews and Muslims, Communities Secretary Michael Gove announced plans to block groups deemed to be ‘extremist’ from accessing public funding or engaging with the Government.

The new definition describes extremism as the “promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance” that aims to “negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others”, or “undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights”.

Also see:

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