Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

CPS Chief Defends Koran Case Move; No Charges to Be Brought over Incident

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

CPS Chief Defends Koran Case Move; No Charges to Be Brought over Incident

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Hunt

NO ONE is to be prosecuted after a copy of the Koran was burnt on the anniversary of 9/11.

A video of the Muslim holy book being doused in lighter fuel and set on fire was posted on internet site YouTube.

Seven men were arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred following the incident in the back yard of the Bugle pub in Leam Lane, Gateshead, in September.

But four months later, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided there is not enough evidence for a conviction.

Prosecutors said they could neither identify who made the film nor prove threatening behaviour was used, and said the "individuals involved claimed they did not intend to offend anyone".

The CPS yesterday defended the decision, and Muslim community leaders have called for calm.

Northumbria chief crown prosecutor, Wendy Williams, said: "This was a serious incident which the vast majority of people will rightly find repugnant.

"However, no matter how unacceptable people may find such behaviour, we can only prosecute if there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction."

She said the case had been subjected to a "very careful, detailed review" and Northumbria Police had carried out a "thorough investigation". "We have taken very great care to consider all the facts in this case," Ms Williams went on.

"The initial focus of the case was on the identity of the person who recorded the incident and posted it online, but it was not possible to identify who this was.

"Without knowing who it was, we cannot start a prosecution for the publicity of the video.

"We then looked to see whether we could prosecute any of the participants in the actual burning of the Koran for an offence of stirring up religious hatred. This offence requires proof threatening behaviour was used, and there was no evidence we could use to prove that. …

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