Man charged with abuse of former Portsmouth FC player

A 33 year old man has been charged under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 for sending an abusive message to former Portsmouth FC defender Tal Ben Haim.

Matthew Smith, from Andover, Hampshire, is alleged to have sent the offensive message to the Israeli footballer on 6 August 2012. Section 127 is concerned with the improper use of a public electronic communications network and provides that a person is guilty of an offence if he “sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”. If convicted, Smith faces up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

Commenting on the decision to charge Smith, the Crown Prosecution Service commented: “We have carefully considered the evidence provided to us by the Police and are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute Matthew Smith with this offence.”

The use of Section 127 is becoming increasingly common, as the Police seek to clamp down on online abuse, predominantly on social networking sites.

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