Herts Police waste £12,500 on “flabbergasting” case against Private Eye magazine

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop. Photo: Toby Madden info@tobymadden.com.

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop. Photo: Toby Madden info@tobymadden.com. - Credit: Archant

Herts police wasted £12,500 of taxpayers’ money on a court case against Private Eye, it has been revealed.

The force, whose Commissioner wants more money from council tax next year, wanted the satirical magazine to hand over a list of subscribers in the county.

When Private Eye refused, the police sought a production order under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1985.

This was rejected by a crown court judge, but not before £12,500 had been spent by the cops, according to The Times.

A police spokesperson said: “Hertfordshire Constabulary treat all allegations of hate crime seriously and will actively pursue enquiries that may help to identify those who commit these horrible crimes.

“On this occasion Private Eye has decided not to assist in the police investigation and that is a matter for them.

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“We will continue to investigate allegations of hate crime thoroughly using all of our available resources.”

The application was made after a Muslim woman who worked at Hatfield police station was sent a joke about the Manchester terrorist attacks.

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The joke had been cut from a June copy of the Eye and sent through the force’s internal mail.

Meaning it must have been sent by a police officer or a member of staff.

Private Eye’s editor Ian Hislop said on the magazine’s podcast: “It is pretty flabbergasting.

“The strangeness of the case was absolutely bizarre.

“We did try and cooperate and explain perhaps this was not a subscriber, perhaps they had bought it in a shop, or perhaps they have been given it by a friend, or they’d photocopied a cartoon from someone who had sent it over the internet.

“It did strike me the essential detective work didn’t seem to have been done - and we did try and explain that.

“But then they took us to court anyway and we didn’t have any choice, we had to get in a barrister to defend us.

“But happily the judge threw the case out.”

Judge David Farrell QC also told Herts police to pay costs for both sides.

Several former police officers wrote letters to the magazine criticising Herts police after their attempts became public.

To hear the full podcast, visit soundcloud.com/privateeyenews

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