Belfast blogger Alan Murray is facing charges of harassment for writing about public figures on his blog.
His blog is http://www.holylandswarzone.blogspot.com
He is on a very important issue here and he has been writing about it more eloquently than most – and got beaten up for his trouble.
But the worry for bloggers is that they can be prosecuted for naming public figures whose conduct they question!
And if a blogger can be prosecuted for this, then so can a journalist.
Below is Alan’s account of how he has found himself charged with harassment for writing on an issue of public importance.
A brief synopsis of events is as follows:-
1. An article appeared in the South Belfast News credited to Katrina O’Neill. You can see it here
2. I wrote an online criticism of it. You can see it here
3.A row broke out between Katrina O’Neill and myself at a residents’ meeting. I discuss it here
Three police officers were present including Inspector Lewis Brown. She made no complaint to them at the time. It was sixteen days before she made a complaint.
4. Katrina O’Neill and I passed each other in the hoarding outside the Ormeau bakery on the 29th May.
5.On the 2nd June 2007 I was assaulted at 4pm in Agincourt Street. I will supply you with photographs of my injuries. Present during the assault were:-
-Mark O’Neill, brother of Katrina
-A friend of Mark O’Neill
-Bernard O’Neill, father of Katrina and member of Sinn Fein who intimidated witnesses who were filming the incident.
I walked down to Donegall Pass to report the assault on me. The desk assistant called a ambulance. Six officers arrived from the scene and took me into a small room. They proceeded to bully me into not pressing charges. They also cautioned me for criticising Katrina O’Neill at the residents’ meeting and on the internet and for “looking” at her outside the Ormeau Bakery.
6. On the 4th June 2007 Police cautioned me for criticising David Farrell on the internet. An account of their visit can be found here.
The officer in question was not a detective, but Constable Robert Steven Kingsman wearing a non uniform jacket. I was also incorrect about the electricity company. Their security guards are allegedly harrassed by local protestors.
7.On Monday 2nd July 2007 I was arrested for criticising David Farrell on the internet. The two articles he cites as harassment can be found here.
8. After publishing this
I was cautioned by police for harassment against Tony McGuinness. I don’t recall the date of their visit.
9.After publishing this
I was arrested and charged with harassment against Katrina O’Neill. The arrest took place on the 27th September 2007.