Hertfordshire Police have failed in a bid to force Private Eye to reveal its subscriber list after a Muslim police employee was sent a cut-out of a joke about terrorists from the weekly magazine.
The Hertfordshire Mercury reported that the woman, who works in a civilian role at Hatfield police station, was sent the anonymous missive through the internal mail system, leading to an investigation to find the employee responsible.
Hertfordshire police then requested details for Private Eye’s subscribers in Hertfordshire and the surrounding counties.
After Private Eye refused the police request, the case was taken to Cambridge Crown Court where Judge David Farrell, QC, threw the case out.
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said: “I was surprised when the police contacted us over this, really surprised when they insisted that they were serious and absolutely amazed when they went to court over it. What was not in the least surprising was that the judge threw the case out.”
Private Eye’s lawyers said that its subscriber lists would have been ineffective as many of its copies are sold at the newsstand, The Times reported.
Average circulation was 250,000 in the first half of 2017, with almost 100,000 not being subscriber copies, according to the latest ABC figures.
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Police said: “We will continue to investigate allegations of hate crime thoroughly using all of our available resources.”
Picture: Reuters/Olivia Harris