Intent may not be a defence

John Terry says he did not intend to racially abuse Anton Ferdinand on the football pitch when using his “industrial” language.

He did not intend to and asked Ferdinand if he had and Ferdinand is said to have told Terry it was not racial abuse.  So that’s OK.

Or not.

Intent not important

There are many areas of English and Welsh law where the intent of the person creating the content – verbal, written etc – is not important.

In libel the intent of the author is irrelevant.  They may not intend to libel the claimant.  They may not intend the words to be read like that.  They may not intend to identify the claimant.  None of these are defences.

It’s the same with harassment under the Public Order Act, under which Terry was charged.    Here’s the section:

“Likely to be caused” seems to be the key term in the Public Order Act

You can see the term “likely to be caused”.  So intent does not seem to matter.

Keep this in mind when generating any type of content: your intent may not be a defence.

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