A 25-year-old man who was prosecuted with the help of counter-terror experts was cleared by a jury in just one hour over his ‘satirical’ Facebook post where he called for ‘national batter gypos day’.
After he was cleared of inciting racial hatred Joshua North, from Cleethorpes, blasted the decision to prosecute him as ‘political correctness gone mad’.
He said: ‘I told the police, if you check all my other Facebook posts, it indicates that I’m very friendly to immigrants, other races and religions.’
Joshua North, 25, (pictured) called for ‘a national batter gypos day’ in the post, which he claimed was ‘satirical
Mr North said he made the statement to mock other people’s ‘hateful comments’ in response to a story about travellers visiting North East Lincolnshire on the Grimsby Telegraph website on July 24 2016.
The jury heard during that during a police interview he said: ‘I literally just made that comment as comedy’.
When he was asked by an officer ‘Did you have any intention of trying to get people to group together?’ he replied ‘definitely not’.
Mr North told the court: ‘In no way, shape or form did I intend there should be a national day. It was said in purely satirical terms.’
Joshua North said the decision to prosecute him was ‘political correctness gone mad’. He is pictured at the end of the trial after being cleared of inciting racial hatred at Grimsby Crown Court. From left are family: Naomi Higgins, brother Ben North, Joshua North, barrister James Gray and mother Jane North
Travellers’ advocate Shay Clipson described the comments on the page as ‘alarming and distressing’.
She alerted police to the comments, adding: ‘When people go online and write things like this they’ve got no control over who is reading it.’
She said even if the comments were intended as a joke, it was wrong to post them.
The decision to prosecute was criticised by Mr North’s lawyer who said the case had been brought with ‘the full force of the resources of the counter-terrorism unit’.
The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed its Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division were involved.
Mr North said the case had led to almost two years of hell for him and his family.
Speaking outside Grimsby Crown Court with his family and lawyer, Mr North told the Grimsby Telegraph: ‘I thought I was misrepresented by the prosecution.
‘There was no investigation into my side of the story, which I asked them to do when I first started this case.
‘It’s utter nonsense. My stress has gone through the roof. I have had time off work. It’s just not fair – all because a person took a bit of offence.
‘It has affected other people. I just felt I was treated unfairly. The support has been amazing.
‘I would like to thank everybody who supported me. I just hope the word will spread.
‘It’s been two years of being thought that I’m a racist and potentially being sent to prison.’
He added: ‘I could understand it [the decision to prosecute] if I wanted to go out and harm all these gypsies and make a national day.
‘It’s political correctness gone mad.’
His brother, Ben North, said: ‘There was a group of people who posted things and Josh has been picked out of the hat, put on a stand and they are trying to make an example of him.
‘It’s one of those political correctness things.’
He told his brother: ‘If you were a racist, you wouldn’t be my brother.’
Their mother, Jane North, said: ‘To put him through this is shocking. It has put all the family under pressure.’
Defence barrister James Gray (right) said the case had been brought with ‘the full force of the resources of the counter-terrorism unit’
Defence barrister James Gray said: ‘I am delighted for Josh, who has been through what can only be described as an ordeal.
‘I am disappointed that the prosecution, who had the full force of the resources of the counter-terrorism unit behind them, did not at any point consider what kind of a person Joshua actually is.
‘Had they spent any time thinking about him, looking at his other posts or even considering the possibility of another interpretation other than that they fixed upon, it would have occurred to them that Joshua is the last person to incite racial hatred.
‘Instead, they fixed on an interpretation and they refused to consider any other possibility even after he had advanced his position in interview.
‘What we have is a young, kind, decent, liberal, broad-minded man who works hard and who has been put through hell.
‘All I can say is that I am thrilled that it is over for him.’
After the case concluded, Humberside Police defended its decision to charge Mr North, stating it takes hate crime allegations seriously.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) supported the view there was sufficient evidence and a realistic prospect of conviction.
It said in statement: ‘The role of the CPS is not to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for a jury to consider and we respect their decision.’