QPR midfielder Joey Barton, as everyone in football knows, is a tireless campaigner for freedom of expression. The controversial ball-winner, currently on loan in the French First Division with Olympique Marseille, is known for his brushes with the law, but has built a countervailing reputation as one of the game’s most aggressive thinkers. Continue reading
Comparing different countries’ legal systems is a dangerous game, but three cases came to light last week which beg to be compared. The criminalisation of criticising political leaders has always been a hallmark of illiberal societies, and it seems that the tradition is still going strong today: in France, the West Bank and the UK too.
Eon v France, no. 26118/10 14 March 2013- read judgment (in French only). The applicant, Hervé Eon, is a French national, a socialist and anti-GM activist living Laval (France). The case concerned his conviction for insulting President Sarkozy.
During a visit by the President to the département of Mayenne on 28 August 2008, Mr Eon had waved a placard reading “Casse toi pov’con” (“Get lost, you sad prick”), a phrase uttered by the President himself several months previously when a farmer had refused to shake his hand at the International Agricultural Show. The utterance was widely disseminated in the media and on the internet, attaining the status of a slogan. Continue reading