Ex-Councillor given suspended sentence for racial abuse

28/09/2012

A former Stoke-on-Trent councillor has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12months, after being found guilty at an earlier hearing of posting racial comments on a social media website. He was also ordered to do 240 hours unpaid work and pay costs of £3,500.

Michael Coleman, aged 45, had earlier denied two counts of racially aggravated harassment which were related to racist language used in two articles on his website, but he was found guilty after a trial at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on 5 September.

Eran Cutliffe, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: "This case concerned the publishing of blogs on an internet site set up by Mr Coleman. The blog contained articles which contained language which was inflammatory in nature and was clearly intended to cause harassment, alarm or distress to others which was racially aggravated. 

"Mr Coleman contends that the blogs were protected under the convention of Human Rights and that it was his right to freedom of speech. The facts of each case turns on its own merits and following careful consideration of the available evidence, the CPS took the decision to charge Mr Coleman with a racially aggravated public order offence. It does not therefore follow that a prosecution is always appropriate but in this particular case, having regard to the evidence available and the content of the blogs, a criminal prosecution was indeed justified."