Reports state how one of UK’s Twitter users was sentenced to 150 hours of community service for a “grossly offensive” post on the platform. Joseph Kelly, aged 36, posted this ‘offensive’ tweet about Captain Sir Tom Moore. He was a British Army officer known for raising money for the NHS at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moore emerged as a national figure in the United Kingdom following him walking 100 laps around his garden prior to his 100th birthday. Post that, he was knighted by the Queen. Kelly’s tweet came a day after Moore’s death, he tweeted, “the only good Brit soldier is a deed one, burn auld fella buuuuurn.”
In February 2021, Kelly was found guilty of this violation, resulting in facing possible jail time. This case attracted attention to an aspect of UK legislation that is often criticised. This legislation enables prosecution of social media users for sending messages that are “grossly offensive.” According to reports, Kelly received the sentence on Wednesday, March 30.
His attorney presented the argument that the defendant notably had very few followers on Twitter at the time of the post. Additionally, he mentioned that he had been drinking before drafting the post. Kelly’s defence went on to argue that the tweet was deleted just 20 minutes after posting it. Moreover, the attorney claimed that Kelly accepted his fault and was unaware of the consequences. He received 150 hours of unpaid work in the way of a Scottish Community Payback Order, along with 18 months of supervision.
“His level of criminality was a drunken post, at a time when he was struggling emotionally, which he regretted and almost instantly removed,” said defence attorney Tony Callahan.
Sheriff Adrian Cottam is the one who sentenced Kelly telling him that the evidence clearly indicated how his tweet was “grossly offensive.” His conviction is enough for people to understand how fast “things can get out of control.” However, owing to his less followers, Kelly was an appropriate example.
Kelly was found guilty under Section 127 of the Communications Act of the UK. It was originally targeted to prosecute people uttering offensive things on the telephone. However, it has been in use to keep “grossly offensive” messages in check. UK citizens are often found guilty under this for various kinds of expression on the social media. However, the Online Safety Bill is set to replace Section 127 in the UK soon.