Another ‘free speech’ victory, but where’s the justice?

Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, a Christian couple who run a small hotel in Liverpool, have been found entirely innocent of a religiously aggravated public order offence after a District Judge dismissed the case.

The couple had been arrested because a Muslim guest had reported them over an informal conversation she’d had with them about Islam.

The couple apparently lost most of their customers over this case, because the majority of their guests were referred to them by a local hospital, who cancelled the arrangement in light of the arrests.

So what happens now? They must have lost many thousands of pounds, not to mention the worry and general aggravation.

Where is the justice when one person can set out to destroy two people’s livelihoods, and what kind of rotten ‘justice’ system allows it to happen in the first place?

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7 Responses to Another ‘free speech’ victory, but where’s the justice?

  1. JuliaM says:

    The punishment is in the process, of course. It’s enough to bring the case for the state, knowing the consequences for anyone in it’s path…

  2. Stewart Cowan says:

    Yes. They were faced with a fine of ‘up to £5,000′ if found guilty. I’m sure they must have lost a lot more than that in lost business.

  3. Richard Borrett says:

    So what would you prefer? Individuals are entitled to make complaints to the police and the CPS are entitled to make decisions as to bringing of a prosecution. It is not for the Police and CPS to decide whether individuals are guilty, it is for the court, as has occurred here.

    The court is better equipped to do this job and where mistakes are made by the first-stage in the process (as it seems may have been the case here) the courts will act accordingly. Preventing these cases getting to court relies upon that first stage entirely, which, as we have seen here (and is seen in practice, regularly), is not reliable.

    If the actions of the guest in complaining and encouraging prosecution were malicious, then the hoteliers will have a cause of action in tort in order to recover their losses resulting from the case. They have also had their name cleared most publicly, thanks to the attention placed on this case, and the fact that it was ‘thrown out’, rather than them being found innocent.

    So – allegations are properly investigated and aired in court, the innocent are found to be so, and where there is loss, restitution is made. What’s the problem? That is not a ‘rotten’ justice system in my opinion.

  4. JuliaM says:

    “…and where there is loss, restitution is made. “

    Not so. Where’s the restitution for this couple? You claim they ‘have a cause of action in tort’, but that’s not a guarantee and will see them even further out of pocket on legal costs.

    The complainant, meanwhile, suffers nothing and can go on her merry way to wreak havoc on yet another business, free of any consequences.

    Justice? I don’t really think so…

  5. JuliaM says:

    “They have also had their name cleared most publicly, thanks to the attention placed on this case, and the fact that it was ‘thrown out’, rather than them being found innocent.”

    That’s often thrown out as a sop to men unjustly accused of rape by lying women. Trouble is, there’s a lot of people who think ‘No smoke without fire!’.

    Where’s the restitution for the unnecessary besmirching of their reputation? Want to bet the hospital doesn’t resume sending clients their way, citing some nebulous ‘diversity’ policy?

  6. Stewart Cowan says:

    I appreciate those replies, Julia.

    Richard: sure, it’s not for the CPS to decide who’s guilty, but they were ‘satisfied there had been sufficient evidence for a successful prosecution’.

    One of the problems, I think, is that political correctness has gripped some of these jobsworths so much that they cannot think straight and make the obviously just decisions.

    What would you suggest the couple should do to make sure justice is done?

  7. Richard Borrett says:

    It is not for me to say what they should do, i have outlined the process by which tere is a remedy where individuals have brought malicious allegations against another.

    Rather, it is for you to propose a better system, as you have been critical of this. On what do you base your judgement that, on the information available, the decision was wrong? the CPS code requires ‘realistic prospect of conviction’ and this is a difficult judgement call to make? Remember the alternative, that decisions are made by the cps which are wrong and the guilty go untried, let alone convicted.

    You still fail to address the real issue – you agree that it is not for the CPS to decide, but without going to trial it must be for them to decide. What is the alternative?

    JuliaM: ‘men accused of rape by lying women’. Yes that does happen and it is a tragedy, but again how do you propose we decide which women are lying without a trial? The proces has developed over hundreds of years to provide a fair hearing and balanced assessment of the facts – yes there will be those who take advantage, but the fact that some people think about ‘smoke’ presume ‘fire’ is not sufficient to prevent the process taking its course.

    The smoke/fire issue is the fault of those individuals, misunderstanding and of reactionary reporting, not of the system itself.

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