Tag Archives: stephen sizer

More details on the Seismic Shock police visit. Still worrying.

Following yesterday’s post on the visit paid by two West Yorkshire police officers to an anonymous blogger, the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones has done some digging and spoken to the blogger in question, who explains:

“Someone had traced my IP address to Leeds University and the police had spoken to the university and retrieved some files of mine, none of which contained anything which I hadn’t made public. The police then relayed a message from the head of ICT department that I shouldn’t be using university property in such ways.”

Rory’s piece continues:

The officers asked him to take down his blog, which was at that time being written partly on a university computer, and he agreed to do so. “Why?” I asked him. “I did it because I felt intimidated,” he said. “I felt had to co-operate with the police.”

So why did the police or Leeds University get involved in this argument? The university offered no comment, except to say that the person who knew about this issue was away on holiday.

This is the most worrying piece of the puzzle for me.

  • Firstly, that – apparently on the basis of a complaint – the police should request computer files from a university.
  • And secondly, that the university should comply.

I’m waiting for a response from West Yorkshire Police and Leeds University for further details – particularly on how the police handle harassment complaints like this (and what the nature of the complaint was), and the university’s policy for handing over student data. This may well be a storm in a teacup, but there are valid questions here that need to be answered.

A roundup of other reports on the story can be found here.

UPDATE: I’ve now received a reply from West Yorkshire Police who appear to be merely repeating what they already told Index on Censorship: “As a result of a report of harassment, which was referred to us by Surrey Police, two officers from West Yorkshire Police visited the author of the blog concerned. The feelings of the complainant were relayed to the author who voluntarily removed the blog. No formal action was taken.”

I’ve repeated my questions about how they handle harassment complaints and requests for data more generally.

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Police pay Seismic Shock blogger a visit over 'harassment'

This* is worrying on so many levels:

  • a blogger links to evidence linking a reverend in the Anglican church with holocaust denial and antisemitism
  • the reverend complains to Surrey Police, who pass it on to Yorkshire Police, who pay the blogger a visit, during which the blogger agrees to delete one of his blogs.
  • in addition, it appears that the police have also spoken to the university which the blogger attends, where the head of ICT “would like to remind me that I should not be using university property in order to associate individuals with terrorists and Holocaust deniers”
  • The blogger eventually chooses to speak up when the same reverend threatens another blogger with similar action (despite them being in Australia)

Forget about the specifics. Here are the questions:

  • Why are police getting involved in a libel issue ? Update: West Yorks police say it was a claim of “harassment”.
  • Why are they ‘paying a visit’?
  • Why are they approaching an educational institution to gather information on that person?
  • Why does that educational institution then get involved?

Extremely worrying. Watch this one.

*If that link doesn’t work, try this or this.