The Home Secretary told the House of Commons last night that the Government will accept the Lords amendment to remove the word “insulting” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.
Theresa May told the House that the Government respected the view of the House of Lords and said comments by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, meant the Government was “not minded to challenge the amendment” made in the Lords.
She said: “Looking at past cases the Director of Public Prosecutions could not identify any where the behaviour leading to a conviction could not be described as abusive as well as insulting. He has stated that the word insulting could safely be removed without the risk of undermining the ability of the CPS to bring prosecutions.”
The Home Secretary concluded: “On that basis the Government is not minded to challenge the amendment made in the other place. We will issue guidance to the police on the range of powers that remain available to them to deploy in the kind of situation I described. But the word insulting shall be removed from Section 5.”
This vital free speech reform will not come into effect for a period of months as the Crime and Courts Bill must complete its passage through Parliament.