London: September 18, 2019. (PCP) BACA though disappointed with the result commend Lancashire Police for their due diligence in an investigation of the hate-filled rant by Zaheer Hussain. After initially being advised that there was no chance for a prosecution under existing hate crime legislation, progress was made after BPCA representatives attended an invite-only meeting held at Preston Police Station with Chief Inspector Sansbury, in July. CI Sansbury maintained communication with BPCA after the meeting and explained that attempts were being made to challenge the CPS to register charges under a lesser offence.You can learn more about this (here)
As a result of the discussion with Police, BACA were able to provide them with information regarding the two converts who appeared to have been targeted by Zaheer Hussain after a video of a baptism was posted on Facebook. One of the two converts had to undergo a series of forced temporary relocations as a consequence of the malice-filled video. Details of the two main targets of the vile rant were shared with Preston police.
Today after a conversation with BACA CI Sansbury, shared a press statement with us: "In December last year we were made aware of a video widely circulating on social media which showed a man in a car in Preston making a number of offensive comments.
"As soon as this video came to our attention, we launched an investigation and we arrested a 41-year-old man from Preston on suspicion of religiously aggravated harassment. Four further men, all from Preston, voluntarily attended at a police station and were also questioned under caution in connection with the incident.
"We have conducted detailed and wide ranging enquiries in relation to what happened, including the use of our digital specialists. We have also considered a number of possible offences. However, after liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service, the decision has been made by them that no further action will be taken.
"We understand the significant upset the comments in the video have caused to many people in Preston and beyond. However, our primary role is to investigate whether any criminal offences have occurred and it is therefore important to clarify how this decision has been reached.
"The video was initially posted into a private WhatsApp group containing a very small number of people. There is evidence to support the 41-year-old man’s claim that he did not intend for the video to be shared beyond that small number of people and despite numerous exhaustive enquiries, we are unable to determine how it was distributed beyond that group and by whom. There is therefore no evidence to prove that the arrested man had any intention to incite or stir up religious hatred amongst the general public.
"A separate offence of sending a grossly offensive/indecent or menacing message by a public communication network was also put to the Crown Prosecution Service, but it was decided by them that it did not meet the evidential test for a criminal offence."
Chief Inspector Steven Sansbury said: "I fully appreciate the distress and public interest that this video caused and have been determined to make sure a robust and thorough investigation was conducted, and all possible offences tha may have been committed were considered. We work hard to keep communities across Preston safe and feeling safe and, as part of the investigation, we have spoken to a number of individuals and community organisations to reassure them.
“We are absolutely determined to tackle all crime motivated by hate and prejudice and I would urge anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime to have the confidence to come forward and report it to us. We will always deal with victims of hate crime professionally and sympathetically and do everything we can to both support them and seek justice wherever a crime has been committed."
The following Rationale was also shared by Preston Police to BACA:
Rationale & Key Facts
Mr Hussein did not post the video on any social media site himself. Had he done so he would very likely have been charged with an offence of intending to stir up religiously motivated hatred.
The key point to prove the offence he was arrested for of intending to stir up religiously motivated hate is an intention to do so. This requires either an admission by the offender or that the circumstances show that the offender meant for the message to be received by the public. In this case the evidence we have supported his claim that the video had been sent privately to four other people, all of whom were interviewed by the police and denied sending the message on to anyone else.
Therefore, we were not able to prove his intention and he could not be charged with this offence.
We therefore tried to identify if Mr Hussein had committed any other offences and identified an offence of sending a grossly offensive message by a public communication network. We put this to the CPS to see if they would authorise a charge. Whilst it was accepted that the message was rude, disrespectful, abusive and distasteful, using existing case law it was not deemed to reach the high evidential level of being considered “grossly offensive”, therefore the CPS decision was that no charge should be brought.
During the meeting which was organised to quell an unprecedented level of interest in the prosecution of hate-speaker Zaheer Hussain, CI Sansbury informed BACA representatives that every effort had been made to conduct a thorough investigation, gather all available evidence and consider all possible offences that may have been committed.
The impact of the rant caused offence to thousands of people across the UK and forced several relocations of the family of one of the targeted converts. The offensive video has left many others who have quit Islam feeling shell-shocked and in fear. BPCA is compiling evidence of the community tensions the rant has fomented which will be included in the Police submission required for a potential conviction.
The incident began when a video of a baptism of a former Mulsim was inadvertently shared by someone sometime after the baptism which occurred on 4th December 2018.
Sadly, the video came to the awareness of hate-speaker Zaheer Hussain who quite immediately produced his intolerant rant calling for death and buggery of all Ex-Muslims, whilst driving in the Moor Park area of Preston. Within the video Zaheer Hussain and his colleague threatened to rape the two targets in the baptism video. You can watch the rant in the video below - please be aware some of the language used is extremely foul, vulgar and offensive:
BACA also located a further threatening video filmed by another radical Mulsim that is currently being shared on social media. It seems to be one of a series of two and although no copy of the first video has been found, the producer of the video describes in the one that we have found that personal names and addresses had been shared in the first video and direct contact made with the family of one of the men. The video has been shared with several police authorities.
Zaheer Hussain was arrested on suspicion of religiously aggravated harassment in December after a video of him making seemingly derogatory comments about Christians was posted on social media. The arrest was instigated after a series of complaints were received by several different members of the public from across the country.
Zaheer Hussain, who is from Preston, has since apologized for his comments and has surrendered his Preston Taxi Driver badge to Preston City Council on 9th January 2019.
A spokesman for Preston City Council said: “A Hackney Carriage driver has appeared before the Taxi and Miscellaneous Committee today to have their Hackney Carriage driver’s license reviewed.
“During the course of the hearing, the driver agreed to hand-in their Hackney Carriage driver’s license by the close of business today, and has already done so.
“This will be in effect until the completion of the related police investigation and any subsequent legal processes.
“The driver will be unable to drive a Hackney Carriage in Preston until reappearing before the Taxi and Miscellaneous Committee for a full license review.”
Zaheer Hussain shared a video in which he apologized for his violent tirade, which can be watched (here). However, BPCA is not convinced his apology is genuine and believe it is simply a reaction to being caught.
Worse still our research has uncovered that Zaheer Hussain may have been involved in a previous assault when working as a Taxi driver. The Lancashire Post in a news roundup dated 03.04.07, stated:
"DEEPDALE: A taxi driver has been convicted of assault and criminal damage after a trial at Preston Magistrates Court. Black cab driver Zaheer Hussain, 30, of Deepdale Road, will be sentenced for the offences on April 20. Mike Thorpe, head of licensing and electoral services at Preston Council, said: "It is council procedure to review drivers' licenses when they are given this type of criminal conviction and the Taxi and Miscellaneous Sub Committee will decide what to do on Thursday April 19."
The name age and location of the driver are a perfect match for the Zaheer Hussain who made the recent hate-filled rant. If that previous crime was committed by the same taxi-driver you would hope this time Preston Council would be more assertive and terminate his right to drive a Taxi - it would seem he is truly a danger to others. Preston Council can make a decision to do this irrespective of this CPS decision and we will be challenging them to terminate Zaheer Hussain's license.
BACA have been speaking with local converts from Islam to understand better what impact Zaheer Hussain's evil rant has had on their lives, In June 2019, Rebecca Ahmed, said:
"My husband that I have now been married to for just over 10 years was a convert from Islam to Christianity. We all left Birmingham 5 years ago as it became nigh on impossible to continue living amongst the abuse we were targeted with.
"My daughters were physically attacked in school in a decade long crusade against us - It has been dreadful.
"Even now My husband still suffers from panic attacks.
"We eventually chose Lancashire as a place of sanctuary in particular Preston and have been living here in peace to date.
"However, there is a large ex-Muslim community here in Preston and they are all deeply upset, worried and alarmed by this taxi driver Zaheers threats of rape and violence.
"As a community they feel fragile and vulnerable and having said the above it is only right that Zaheer Hussain is charged for his violent tirade."
She added: "Since Zaheer's video surfaced our family have been petrified and shocked that this could happen in a place so quiet and peaceful like Preston."
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee of the British Asian Christian Association, said: "Zaheer Hussain's case has been thoroughly investigated by Preston Police Authority and we commend them on their thorough approach in attempting to serve justice.
"The impact of the hate filled tirade by Zaheer Hussain had placed one particular family in real turmoil and our thoughts and prayers remain with them.
"The thoughtlessness and hate that Zaheer Hussain exhibited has fomented serious death threats towards his target and we hope that Preston Council respond by terminating his Taxi licence - a vehicle service which intends to reassure patrons of their safety should be free from zealots like Zaheer Hussain.
"We hope that with reform to existing hate legislation, which includes the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (click here), and Public Order Act 1986 (click here) , that perpetrators of vile speech that causes pain and anxiety to others can be better policed and lose their sense of impunity.
"We are disappointed that CPS have felt that existing case law does not allow for the prosecution of Zaheer Hussain under the Communicatons Act 2003, section 127 and we will be seeking reforms to this too.
"That the body of evidence collected by Preston Police of offence caused by the vile rant by Zaheer Hussain including evidence submited by BPCA was ignored by CPS, as it was deemed the mesage he sent out did not reach the threshold for 'grossly offensive' is bizzare and ludicrous - this term needs immediate redefinition.
"Sadly in my opinion CPS have prevented a test case that could have improved this law to protect targeted groups such as apostates from Islam.
"Our existing laws need to allow more flexibility for judges and juries to penalise hate-speakers who share such vile rants in a small group - especially where their despicable messages are then easily and inevitably shared across social media to galvanise an extremist response.
"For too long hate preachers have been able to defend their intentions by stating that they themselves never intended to share the content of their hate-filled malice on-line or with the public - this deflection must stop.
"We also need to strengthen existing hate crime legislation so they better protect victims of the burgeoning social malaise of apostasy hatred."
BPCA is disappointed that the CPS has chosen not to pursue charges against Zaheer Hussain ostensibly due to their opinion that the very limited case law that refers to Section 127 of the Communications act 2003 (see end of article for wording), does not allow for a prosecution. An urgent redefining of the term grossly offensive' within is required.