Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cafe owner ordered to remove 'offensive' Santa poster by police

A cafe owner is unhappy after police told him to remove from his front window a poster which was deemed to be offensive. Greg Martin, who runs Fuel in North Street, Exeter, has said he cannot understand why he was ordered to take it down. It depicted a man dressed as Father Christmas with a spatula held to his throat underneath the message 'Eat here or the old b****** gets it'.

"It was a joke," he said, "Everyone I know took it in the spirit with which it was intended. I didn't think it was particularly controversial until the police came calling." He claims officers came into the cafe and asked him to remove it. He said: "I was told that a complaint had been made and the poster was considered to be offensive as a Section 5 offence."

A person is deemed to have committed a Section 5 offence under the Public Order Act 1986 if they display any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting within the sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm, or distress. "It may have been near the knuckle," said Mr Martin. "But I don't think it was that bad.

"I've put up a replacement now where the spatula is replaced with a Christmas tree and the message has been changed. I don't think Section 5 should be used in this way." Police say they do not have a record of the incident but it is understood it may not have been logged if no offence was deemed to have been committed and if words of advice were given.

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