The Mayor of the English city of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called for a new law to prosecute those who spread “offensive lies and conspiracies.”
Mayor Burnam’s comments followed a man being sued for claiming that the Manchester Arena attack in 2017 was a hoax.
“The law needs to be changed to make it a serious criminal offence to peddle these offensive lies and conspiracies with custodial penalties,” Mayor Burnham wrote.
A survivor of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack, Martin Hibbert, is suing a conspiracy theorist who claims the attack was a hoax.
A survey conducted by Kings College, involving 4,000 correspondents, found that 14% doubt whether the attack happened at all, and 10% of people think it was a hoax.
A conspiracy theorist who believes the attack was a hoax, Richard D Hall, has targeted Hibbert, who was paralyzed from the waist down, and his daughter Eve, who suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Hall insists the attack was a hoax, and has even tracked down survivors, to investigate if the attack was real.
He claims that those that died in the terror attack are living abroad.
In an interview with BBC’s Radio 4, Hibbert said that while he respects the freedom of speech, Hall had crossed the line because he was profiting from the misery of others.
“I’m friends with a lot of the deceased’s family and I’m friends and in contact with a lot of the survivors. A lot of them people are recluses in their own home, they’re too scared to even come out, to even come into Manchester, and that’s what kind of made me deal with it head-on,” he said.
“I’m not having it, especially with Eve, my daughter, she’s got enough on her plate at the minute without silly people like this.”
Hibbert explained that the purpose of the lawsuit is not “silencing people.” But he feels that “when people cross a line, when err, you know, they’re going out and you know, seeing people at their home, filming people when they don’t even know they’re being filmed and they’re writing books, making money from people’s misery, that’s when it has to stop, and that’s what we’re going to do.
“I’ve spoke to my legal team and you know they’re going to get on with it, so we will shut him up and we’ll shut him down, and it will then act as a precedent.