The Crown Prosecution Service has explained why a Preston taxi driver will not face any charges over an obscene video in which he appeared to threaten Muslim converts to Christianity.
The 41-year-old man, from Deepdale, was arrested in December on suspicion of religiously aggravated harassment after a video was reported to Lancashire Police.
The video appeared to show a man threatening sexual violence against former Muslims who had converted to Christianity.
Filmed in a car driving around the Moor Park area of Preston, the video was shared to a private WhatsApp group but went viral after it was leaked to social media.
But yesterday (Wednesday, September 18) Lancashire Police said it would not be charging the man after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
It said the CPS told the force it could not prosecute him because his actions did not constitute a criminal offence.
Today, the CPS has explained how it reached its decision.
"The CPS has reviewed evidence gathered by Lancashire Constabulary in relation to a 41-year old-man who was arrested following complaints about a video that was shared on a number of social media sites", said a CPS spokesman.
"Having considered all the evidence, the CPS has concluded that the legal test for a prosecution is not met.
"In reaching this decision we have considered the evidence in conjunction with detailed legal guidelines for prosecutors on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media.
"The guidelines make clear the very high threshold that is required for a communication to be so grossly offensive as to be criminal.
"We have also taken into account evidence that the suspect had sent the video message only to his close friends, not anticipating it being more widely distributed.
"Whilst it is clear that many people have found the comments in the video offensive and distasteful, we have determined that they do not meet the high threshold required for a prosecution and we have therefore advised the police that no further action should be taken in this case."
The decision has disappointed some former Muslims in Preston, who said they fear that they were the intended target of the abusive video.
The Ex-Muslim Association of Preston said it will petition Preston City Council to revoke the man's hackney carriage licence.
A spokesman said: "The Ex-Muslims Association of Preston are deeply saddened by the CPS's result to not charge him for his hate-filled rant of threatening to rape Muslims converts to Christianity
"We urge Preston City Council to take note of the amount of signatories collected on our petition calling for the withdrawal of his Taxi Licence.
"His views carry a severe conflict of interest as a Taxi Driver with potential customers, and also puts people at risk given the nature of his comments during the video."
How does the CPS work?
- Any decision by the CPS does not imply any finding concerning guilt or criminal conduct.
- The CPS makes decisions only according to the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and it is applied in all decisions on whether or not to prosecute.
- It is not the function of the CPS to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for the criminal court to consider.
- The CPS assessment of any case is not in any sense a finding of, or implication of, any guilt or criminal conduct. It is not a finding of fact, which can only be made by a court, but rather an assessment of what it might be possible to prove to a court, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
- This assessment is based on the evidence available arising out of the police investigation and not on the evidence that is likely to be gathered by the defence, and likely to be used to test the prosecution evidence. The CPS charging decision is therefore necessarily an assessment on the basis of the evidence that is available to the CPS at the time the decision is made.