Feeds

'Bloody foreigners' is racist taunt, say Lords

Mobility scooter rampage ends in conviction

Boost IT visibility and business value

It can be racist to make reference to "bloody foreigners" even if the insult is no more specific than that, the House of Lords has ruled.

The decision was made in a case where a man's abusive words and behaviour were judged to have been racially aggravated.

A Mr Rogers was on his way home from the pub in the mobility scooter he uses because of his arthritis. When he came across three Spanish women on the pavement there was an altercation and he was said to have pursued them aggressively into a kebab house.

There he was found to have used abusive, threatening or insulting behaviour, and he called them "bloody foreigners" and told them to "go back to your own country". He was convicted by Winchester Crown Court of using racially aggravated abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intent to cause fear or provoke violence, and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

Rogers appealed to the Court of Appeal but lost, and appealed to the House of Lords, where he also lost his case that the abusive behaviour was not racially aggravated.

While Rogers' legal team conceded that he would have been guilty of racial aggravation had he used a more specific term, such as "bloody Spaniards", they argued that "foreigners" is not a group of people identifiable as a race and as therefore racially insultable.

"It is argued that the hostility must be shown towards a particular group, rather than to foreigners as a whole," explained Baroness Hale of Richmond in her judgment. "Mere xenophobia, it is said, does not fall within the ordinary person's perception of hostility to a racial group.

"It is argued for [Rogers] that the [Crime and Disorder] Act requires that the group be defined by what it is rather than by what it is not," said Hale. "Hence it is argued that Spaniards are covered but foreigners, that is the non-British, are not. The same argument would presumably be made about a person who showed hostility towards all non-whites, irrespective of the particular racial group to which they belonged."

"This cannot be right as a matter of language. Whether the group is defined exclusively by reference to what its members are not or inclusively by reference to what they are, the criterion by which the group is defined – nationality or colour – is the same," she said.

"The mischiefs attacked by the aggravated versions of these offences are racism and xenophobia," said Hale. "Their essence is the denial of equal respect and dignity to people who are seen as 'other'. This is more deeply hurtful, damaging, and disrespectful to the victims than the simple versions of these offences. It is also more damaging to the community as a whole, by denying acceptance to members of certain groups not for their own sake but for the sake of something they can do nothing about. This is just as true if the group is defined exclusively as it is if it is defined inclusively."

The appeal was dismissed in a ruling that could have implications for employment cases which involve a definition of racist or racially aggravated abuse.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Government's 'Google Review' copyright rules become law
Welcome in a New Era ... of copyright litigation
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.