R v Paul Bussetti

Paul Bussetti was acquitted on 22nd August at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of malicious communication offences. Philip Stott was instructed for the prosecution.

Mr Bussetti had filmed a cardboard model building, which was labelled “Grenfell Tower”, being burned on a bonfire, before sharing the footage on two WhatsApp groups.

The footage was subsequently uploaded to YouTube, reaching a wider audience and causing a public outcry.

Mr Bussetti was charged with two counts of sending or causing grossly offensive material to be sent via a public communications network. Having heard evidence on both sides, the Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot ruled that a message sent via WhatsApp was legally capable of being a message sent via a 'public communications network’ for the purposes of the offence but acquitted Mr Bussetti on the grounds that she could not be sure that the cardboard figures on the effigy were not meant to represent Mr Bussetti and his friends, rather than the victims of the fire.

This matter has received significant press coverage, please see the BBC, Sky News, the Guardian, the Evening Standard and the Independent.

You can read Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot’s judgment here.

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