Shiraz Maher

Britain’s illiberal state

Britain’s illiberal state
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It can seem surreal, almost otherworldly, to read about our judiciary these days. Just a few days ago my colleague Douglas Murray wrote about the peculiarity of imposing a custodial sentence on Matthew Woods for posting bad-taste jokes on Facebook about the abduction of April Jones.

As if to confirm that the Bar is indeed trading in absurdities, another court has now sentenced Barry Thew to eight months in prison (four of which relate to a bail offence) for wearing a t-shirt on which he scrawled the crude message: ‘One less pig; perfect justice’ and ‘ haha.’

It should be obvious that one need not laugh at the jokes of Mr Woods or support the sentiments expressed by Mr Thew to recoil at their treatment by the state.

Arab governments have revived attempts to pass a resolution prohibiting blasphemy in recent weeks. These efforts have been rightly resisted – but what does it say when we’re increasingly resembling the very anti-free speech despotisms we criticise?