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Britain’s two-tier justice system

How was an anti-Israel judge allowed to preside over the case of the ‘paraglider girls’?

Fraser Myers

Fraser Myers
Deputy editor

Topics Identity Politics UK

The case of the ‘paraglider girls’ just got even more disturbing.

Earlier this week, a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court decided not to punish three women who had been convicted of ‘glorifying’ Hamas at a ‘pro-Palestine’ march last year. This struck many as odd. After all, the British authorities are usually keen to throw the book at anyone caught expressing anything offensive. And it is hard to think of anything more offensive than what these women were celebrating.

On 14 October last year, they attended an anti-Israel demo with pictures of paragliders taped to their backs – widely understood to be a reference to the paragliding Hamas terrorists who had slaughtered and raped their way through a music festival in southern Israel just seven days before.

Now there is evidence to suggest that Judge Tan Ikram might not have been an impartial choice to hear this case. Three weeks ago, he liked a post on LinkedIn that described Israel as a ‘terrorist’ country and called for a ‘Free Palestine’. (Ikram claims that he liked the post in error.)

What’s more, the post was written by a man who, according to The Times, has previously shared the conspiracy theory that Israel allowed the 7 October attacks to happen as a pretext for invading Gaza.

We are sharing… https://t.co/dlocy3EiPe pic.twitter.com/G4YsjeZ9th

— Campaign Against Antisemitism (@antisemitism) February 14, 2024

This raises serious questions about Ikram’s impartiality and how he came to preside over the case of the paraglider girls. If he does indeed hold strong anti-Israel views, then why did he not recuse himself? Unsurprisingly, there are now calls for him to be investigated and for the three women’s lenient sentences to be reviewed.

Now, we at spiked believe that no one should be sent to prison for expressing a view, no matter how offensive or odious it might be. And yes, that includes glorifying Hamas and celebrating its atrocities. The only way to challenge such bigotry is through more speech, not less. But it is clear that Judge Ikram did not spare the paraglider girls out of a fair reading of the law or some principled commitment to free speech.

On the contrary, as Brendan O’Neill outlined on spiked yesterday, Ikram has previously come down hard on offensive speech. Last year, he gave suspended prison sentences to six retired police officers who had exchanged racist jokes in a private WhatsApp group. Yet according to the same judge, celebrating the racist murder of Jews carried out by an anti-Semitic terror group deserved no punishment at all.

Whether that LinkedIn post really reflects Ikram’s views or not, the bias and double standards on display here are still shocking. The emergence of two-tier policing – and now a two-tier court system – should disturb us all.

Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

Picture by: YouTube.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Identity Politics UK

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