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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71153
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I fear I may have unintentionally fallen foul of Section 127

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I fear I may have unintentionally fallen foul of Section 127 of the Communications Act when posting a comment on Social Media and I am looking to gain a legal perspective as to whether I have
What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK...some history here. A former work colleague kept sending me confidential information on work he was / had done in relation to special forces. Not really knowing the person and being concerned that he was either posting information he should or, was constantly sending me liew I did some digging on in the internet and came across a page on facebook called 'Walter Mitty Hunters Club'. I found an article relating to the colleague stating that he was well known for telling lies about his service. Here is where I potentially made the mistake. I commented on the facebook article on the lines of 'lol...he's still telling me he's working for SF'. That was was posted months ago, forgotten about and the article was never shared or mentioned again. On Friday however I was dragged into HR, accused of cyberbullying relating to the incident and instantly dismissed for gross misconduct and escorted off site immediately (I am a contractor so had no employee rights). As soon as I got home I removed the offending comment from the website and sent a formal apology to my former colleague explaining that I was truly sorry for any upset or distress that the post may of caused, reassured him that I will never post any such comments again and finished off with wishing him all the best for the future. I was genuinely shocked about this so thought this was the best course of action I could take as I had no intent of malice towards the person. Over the weekend I had a missed call from WM Police, leaving a message on my mobile asking them to call them. This made me put two and two together and realise that I am potentially facing some legal action over the comments. Can you please advise as to whether a) I have likely broken Section 127 of the Communications Act (or anything similar), b) My actions to remediate / rectify the damage were reasonable and proportionate, c) what the likely outcome of this may be.
Do you have any previous?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no...nothing at all, I have never been accused of any such thing previous and my attention was only to discover some back ground on the person so I could place a boundary between him and me if he was not telling me the truth.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I just made the mistake of making a comment on the article that is all...
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
According to the chap from HR he had previously received threats of violence from people within this specific facebook page however, this was something I was totally unaware of and did not, nor ever would, condone. As soon as I became aware of this being a problem I acted by removing the posting and disassociating myself from the group completely.
Is this basically one comment in which you suggest he has lied?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
yes, that is it...I can't recall exact comment as I not expecting a legal issue I didn't save a screen shot before deleting. I basically posted a comment along the lines of "lol...he's sending me messages that he's SF!" or something along those lines. There was no threat, no additional information and as soon as I became aware that it had caused him distress I removed the comment, disassociated myself from the facebook group page and sent him a text apology stating I was sorry for any upset or distress this had caused, reassuring him I would not be repeating any such posting in the future and wishing him well for the future.There was never ever any intent to cause harm, distress or malice and I took action to rectify things as quickly as was humanly possible.
Obviously I haven't seen this message and some of these communication offences are very easily committed. However, I do not see a S127 Communication Act offence in that. This isn't grossly offensive or obscene. I suppose they could drop down upon Malicious Communication and argue that it is untrue but that is fairly weak. Probably they will offer a caution. Unfortunately these are generally summary only offences so if you refuse the caution you do take the risk that you will be charged and tried by Magistrates. Magistrates do not enjoy a good reputation for fairness and impartiality. You would be acquitted by a proper open minded jury on this evidence. Magistrates are not always so sensible. They are actually not as bad as people think generally but it is fair to say they cannot be compared to a jury in terms of fairness. Can I clarify anything for you? Jo
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK, thanks for your advice on this.I am awaiting a call back from the chap who called me from WM Police, I will wait to see what comes from this. I'm hoping that when I speak with the PC he will see this for what is was 'an unintentional consequence' and that having zero intent of malice he will just give me a firm 'rollocking' on the phone however, my gut tells me that I'll probably end up with a caution. The problem with that is the nature of my work it'll make it quite difficult for me to gain employment with a caution so the impact of this has been and, may well yet continue to be, a huge financial burden to me. Due to getting instant dismissal for gross misconduct I have lost all the income from the remaining 13 weeks of my contract and, should I end up with a caution I will probably struggle to gain any meaningful work for the foreseeable.!
The trouble with this is that the police don't have much discretion any more. They will consider this a complete waste of their time.
Generally speaking police officers did not join up to deal with comments on Facebook
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