A law which has been used to try to convict a student who said “woof” to a police dog, or called a police horse ”gay” is to be changed.
Home secretary Theresa May said the Government will accept a House of Lords amendment to remove the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
The amendment had been promoted in the House of Lords by Lord Dear, a former HM Inspector of Constabulary.
Six years ago police tried to prosecute Oxford student Sam Brown after he said to a mounted officer: “Excuse me, do you realise your horse is gay?”
Mr Brown, who made the comment during a night out with friends in Oxford after his final exams, was arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks.
However, after he refused to pay a £80 fine, the Crown Prosecution Service declined to pursue the case.
The following year Kyle Little, a 16-year-old from Newcastle, was fined £50 with £150 costs for saying “woof” to a Labrador dog in front of police officers.
Eventually the magistrates’ decision was overturned by a crown court. He had been arrested and charged under the Public Order legislation.
The amendment has had been pushed for by comedian Rowan Atkinson who had warned that criticism, unfavourable comparison or “merely stating an alternative point of view” could be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.