Facebook and UK government clash over tributes to killer

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Social networking site Facebook was tonight refusing to remove pages set up in tribute to British killer Raoul Moat, despite pressure from the highest levels of the UK government. A Downing Street official had earlier said that a complaint would likely be lodged with Facebook, following questions to Prime Minister David Cameron in Parliament.

Raoul Moat killed one person and seriously wounded two others in Northumbria following his release from prison, prompting a major week-long manhunt. A standoff with police ended early on Saturday morning with Moat shooting himself. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission is ongoing.

Thirteen people have now been arrested, with several under suspicion of assisting Moat in evading the police. Flowers have been left on the riverbank where Moat shot himself, and outside his home in Newcastle. A tribute page on Facebook titled "RIP Raoul Moat You Legend" has attracted over 30,000 members.

During the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session, Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris asked David Cameron to contact Facebook about removing the page, which he described as containing "a whole host of anti-police statements".

The Prime Minister described Moat as a "callous murderer", and condemned the expressions of sympathy for him.

"I cannot understand any wave, however small, of public sympathy for this man," stated Cameron. "There should be sympathy for his victims and the havoc he wreaked in that community. There should be no sympathy for him."

A spokesman for the Prime Minister later said that Facebook would be contacted over the matter. In response Facebook issued a statement saying that the page did not breach its terms of service and would not be removed.

"Facebook is a place where people can express their views and discuss things in an open way as they can and do in many other places, and as such we sometimes find people discussing topics others may find distasteful, however that is not a reason in itself to stop a debate from happening."

"UK police involved in stand-off with gunman Raoul Moat" — Wikinews, July 9, 2010