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Offence of Sending Letters etc. with Intent to Cause Distress or Anxiety

Part of Orders of the Day — Malicious Communications Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 8th July 1988.

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Photo of Ms Jo Richardson Ms Jo Richardson , Barking 10:30 am, 8th July 1988

If there is a maximum, magistrates and judges have to decide what to impose. Sometimes they go for the jugular and impose the heaviest sentence. I am concerned about having a fine of £1,000 or £2,000 because it may result in poor people being penalised. I acknowledge that they should not have committed these acts. It is dreadful for anyone to send a poison pen letter, but we must take the circumstances into account. Magistrates and judges may be so annoyed and incensed by the offence that they go for the maximum penalty. I should like a more modest sentence, at least at the beginning. That would be the best way to proceed before we go down this new road.