The sad case surrounding the death of Nicola Bulley is still making headlines, not less because the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, Andrew Snowden, collapsed under public pressure to open an investigation into the way in which Lancashire police conducted their investigation.

Due to the media frenzy, it is not surprising that many reporters, both amateur and professional, swooped in on the Lancashire town of xxxxx to broadcast reports of the ongoing search for Nicola Bulley.

Curtis Media, a reasonably sized YouTube channel of over 14,000 subscribers, was one such amateur reporter who frequented the area in an attempt to provide media reports of the investigation for his Youtube audience.

Unlike mainstream media, such as ITV, Curtis of Curtis Media was arrested in the middle of the night for posting a youtube video, taken from a public place, of the police searching the river when they appear to have found the body.  It is important to note that at no part of the posted video.

Other than the person recording the video showing himself walking along the road and talking to the police, it went on to switch to a scene, taken from a public place some distance of what appears to be the police on the river bank and police in the river.  It is not at all clear what they are doing and would not have been at the time it was recorded, but it later transpired that this was when they discovered the body of Nicola Bulley in the river.

At no time did the video show anything even resembling a body, it just showed police activity in high viz clothing.

The 7-minute video was also appropriately titled “Nicola Bulley FOUND IN RIVER tragic loss RIP * viewer discretion *“, and while it did state that viewer discretion was advised, it also emphasised remorse (by the channel), saying it was a tragic loss and a sincere message of condolence of Rest In Peace (RIP).

For posting the video, Curtis was arrested on suspicion under common law for Perverting the course of Justice (for deceiving his way through a cordon, which did not exist) and s1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (for publishing the video that is not grossly offensive)

S1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 states;

s1 Offence of sending letters etc. with intent to cause distress or anxiety.

(1) Any person who sends to another person—

(a) a letter, electronic communication or article of any description which conveys—

(i) a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;
(ii) a threat; or
(iii) information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; or

(b) any article or electronic communication which is, in whole or part, of an indecent or grossly offensive nature.

For the s1 offence to be made out

The suspect must send something (in this case, the video is sufficient)

that conveys a message that is indecent or grossly offensive (FAIL)
a threat (FAIL) or
information that is false (FAIL)

– OR –

an article that is, in whole or part, indecent or grossly offensive (FAIL)

While some may consider it insensitive, it is certainly not a crime.

Lancashire police should know this, and therefore, this fails the necessity for an arrest or search. A common tactic that the author of UKCP knows all too well as he was charged with Malicious Communications for outing a police informant.  He was acquitted and subsequently sued Lancashire police for £35,000 for the malicious prosecution.

Under Common Law, Perverting the Course of Justice says

Perverting the course of justice covers a wide range of conduct. A charge of perverting the course of justice should, however be reserved for serious cases of interference with the administration of justice.

So, walking down the road and when stopped by a police officer asking you where you are going, and you say, to my car parked down the road, and the officer allowing you to carry on, cannot possibly be seen as a “serious case of interference with the administration of justice”, how many mainstream reported regularly dip and dive to get closer to the action.

 

 

either offence appear to fit the alleged crime. In fact, photography in a public place is not a crime and although distributing media of grossly offensive contact could be a crime, a video of the police searching the river is not an offence.

This appears to be the police abusing their power to stop a YouTuber who has no legal department backing him,  They did not seem to have an issue with ITV, who released photographs of the same team in the water.

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