THE jailing of a Radcliffe man who wore an offensive T-shirt in the wake of the fatal shooting of two police officers has been branded an “attack on free expression” by a North West Euro MP.
Liberal Democrat Chris Davies was speaking after the conviction of Barry Thew, likening it to the plight of a jailed Russian rock band.
Thew, of Wolsey Street, was handed a four-month sentence for wearing a T-shirt in Radcliffe town centre which carried the slogans “One less Pig, Perfect Justice” and “killacopforfun.com haha”, hours after Greater Manchester police officers Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes were killed in a gun and grenade attack.
Thew, aged 39, pleaded guilty at Minshull Street Court in Manchester to a public order offence and was also handed a further four months in prison for breaching a suspended sentence.
Mr Davies described Thew’s arrest and jailing as an “attack on free expression that weakened Britain’s moral authority in the world”.
The Euro MP compared the case to that of the Russian female rock band Pussy Riot, after three of its members were jailed for two years in February for staging protests against the country’s leader Vladimir Putin.
He said: “How do we condemn Russia for imprisoning members of the Pussy Riot group for offensive acts if we do the same here?
“If someone was to wear a T-shirt claiming that “Jimmy Saville was a nice man” what is to stop them being arrested, too?
“If we are to protect freedom in this country, then we have to accept that even offensive idiots have the right to express their views.
“The fact that many people may be upset by them is not a sufficient justification.”