Express & Star exposes Ku Klux Klan racist after 'important press freedom' battle

The Express & Star in Wolverhampton has succeeded in overturning a Section 11 order banning the publication of the address of a man convicted of posting videos of himself dressed in a Ku Klux Klan uniform.

Christopher Philips, 24 from Wednesfield, Wolverhampton pleaded guilty to stirring up racial hatred by uploading a video on Youtube of him dressed in his KKK outfit lynching a life-sized golliwog doll.

Philips used Facebook and Youtube to express his extremist views as well as supporting Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.

However, when it came to appearing in court, Philips’ legal team secured a Section 11 order preventing the Express & Star from revealing his address. They said publicising his address could lead to attacks on his family. 

The newspaper instructed high-profile media lawyers Foot Anstey to overturn this application at Phillips' sentencing hearing. 

Judge John Warner jailed Philips for twelve months and told him he will serve half of his sentence. He also ruled that there was no material evidence to support claims that Philips' family would be attacked if the name of his road was published. 

Express & Star deputy editor Diane Davies said: “At an earlier hearing, our journalists initially failed to get the order overturned. We sought legal advice from our lawyers at Foot Anstey who drew up a lengthy application referencing relevant cases. We argued in favour of the principle of open justice, and of the need to ensure Christopher Philips was properly identified to ensure no risk to other people of the same name.

“This is a small but important victory for freedom of the press. We publish partial addresses of all criminals, regardless of the offence, as part of our duty to readers.

“ People have the right to know who lives among them, and withholding addresses of criminals for their own comfort would set a worrying precedent.

“We would not want to see a situation where those guilty of serious criminal offences were able to seek protection from identification from the law. We are pleased that the judge saw the power of our arguments and that we are now able to give readers the full story.”

Bethan David from the Crime Prosecution Service's Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division said: "

“The three videos of Mr Phillips posted on Facebook showed him dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit hanging a life size ‘golliwog’ doll. This was an act with very clear racist connotations, and Mr Phillips’ dissemination of the videos on open social media channels showed a clear intent to stir up racial hatred.

“Though freedom of speech is the right of any individual in our democracy, so too does everyone have the right to be protected by the law and that is why we regard racist crimes, along with all hate crimes, as particularly serious; because they undermine people's right to feel safe.

"While people are entitled to hold extreme opinions which others may find unpleasant and obnoxious, they are not entitled to distribute those opinions in a threatening manner intending to stir up hatred. Behaviour that incites bigotry and hatred undermines the freedom of law-abiding individuals and it will not be tolerated in our society.”

Det Insp Darren Powney, senior investigating officer for the counter terrorism unit said: "We understand how offensive and distressing this type of material can be and we worked with the Crown Prosecution Service to bring Philips before the courts at the earliest opportunity.

"We urge anyone with concerns about extremist behaviour of any kind to contact police on 101"

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