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Police chief says officers wrong to approach man over UKIP ‘fact check’ Twitter messages

By William Turvill

Cambridgeshire Police's chief constable has admitted the force was wrong to become involved after a UKIP councillor complained about a blogger's Twitter messages.

According to The Guardian, Simon Parr has asked for an internal review into the incident, which was condemned by the tweeter, Michael Abberton, as an attack on his freedom of speech.

Parr said: "I believe in this instance police attendance was not required and I have asked for our approach to this sort of incident to be reviewed to ensure we do not get involved unless there is clear evidence that an offence may have been committed.”

Abberton, a Green Party member, claims he was visited by two police officers on Saturday and advised to take down “fact check” tweets about UKIP policy.

Police confirmed the visit but denied Abberton was told he should delete the Twitter posts. Officers said he had not committed any crimes and no police action was taken, but a complaint had been made by a UKIP member.

In his blog, Axe of Reason, Abberton said he was advised during the visit on Saturday to delete some of the Twitter posts.

He wrote: "They asked me to 'take it down' but I said I couldn't do that as it had already been retweeted and appropriated, copied, many times and I no longer had any control of it.

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"I'd like to be absolutely clear – the police officers were extremely professional and polite and I couldn't fault their behaviour in any way.

"But it wasn't until after they left that I questioned why they had visited me in the first place.

"Why would a political party, so close to an election, seek to stop people finding out what their policies are or their past voting record?

"And is it not a matter for concern that a political party would seek to silence dissent and debate in such a manner?"

Abberton received backing from the Green Party, with leader Natalie Bennett describing the police’s action as “both disturbing and surprising”, and his local Cambridge MP.

Lib Dem Julian Huppert said: "It seems astonishing for the police to get involved.”

In recent weeks Press Gazette has reported on the cases of two journalists given harassment warning by police in the course of their work.

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