Bahar Mustafa is the Goldsmiths College Students Union Officer who allegedly tweeted #KillAllWhiteMen. She was charged with ‘sending a communication conveying a threatening message’. However, it emerged on Tuesday that the charges against her have been dropped. The Guardian‘s news reporter Jessica Elgot broke the story and asked me to comment on behalf of English PEN:
“The tweets were never a credible threat and while Ms Mustafa might have offended some people, that alone should never be enough for prosecution,” he said.
“It’s a shame this investigation took so long to conclude, but the police are working with laws that are no longer fit for purpose. These charges were brought under communications legislation that was written for fax machines, not social media. The law needs an urgent update.”
Later it emerged that the CPS will be reviewing the decision to drop charges, at the request of one of the complainants, under the Victims Right to Review Scheme. I spoke to the Evening Standard about this:
Robert Sharp, of free speech lobby group English PEN, said there was no public interest in the case, which he added should not have been pursued for so long.
“The fact that it’s gone on so long is a chill on free speech,” he said.
“The police should investigate complaints because credible threats are made on social media.
“However a better law would mean that in this case the investigation could have been closed earlier.”
He added: “There was certainly no public interested in going as far as it did, because in the context [Ms Mustafa’s comment] was clearly a joke.
“It was a political statement, however inadvisable it was for an elected students’ union official to post it.”
I also spoke to East London Lines for their report on the story.