Friday, 28 December 2018

Tameside Council accused of political censorship over 'Che' poster!

Geoff Oliver and wife Maria who run El Cuba Libre

AS we recently reported, a furious row over civil liberties in Tameside, has erupted after a Greater Manchester GMP licensing officer, last Friday, visited the Sportsman Pub in Hyde, demanding that the pub landlord, Geoff Oliver, remove from his pub window a Cuban flag with the image of the Cuban revolutionary, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara emblazoned across it.  The pub provides Cuban food in its restaurant known as 'El Cuba libre', which is run by the landlord and his wife Maria, known as Cangui, who is from Cuba.

Although the landlord says that the flag has been on display at the pub on and off for five years, he says that the GMP licensing officer told him to remove it and warned that there could be serious consequences if he refused to do so, warning him that it could be recorded as a crime.

Mr Oliver told the Morning Star newspaper that he was woken up last Friday morning, by the local police licensing officer, who told him that complaints had been received about him displaying a photograph of a 'terrorist' in his pub front window.  He says that he was told that he could display the flag inside the pub but not from the front window and that if he didn't remove it, the officer would submit a crime report that could lead to a formal criminal investigation.

Guevara, is an iconic figure and a role model for  many revolutionaries on the left and was part of the 26th July Movement that launched a rebellion to overthrow the former Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista, that led to the Cuban revolution in 1959 and a Communist government led by the former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro.

Geoff, 65, from Glossop, has described the incident as attempted 'political censorship' and has refused to take down the poster. He told a local newspaper:

'I just find it unbelievable.  Every day people including many of our customers, walk round with Che Guevara's image on their T-shirts and other memorabilia. In Cuba, he's a national hero and one of the founding fathers...'

Dai Morgan, a regular in the pub, said:  'This is a disgraceful attack on free speech and no laughing matter. Who is this shocking ignoramus. Che stands with Mandela as one of the great fighters for freedom in the 20th century.'

A source told the Manchester Evening News (MEN), that the licensing officer had merely paid a visit to the pub on behalf of Tameside Council to make the landlord aware of the complaint and to 'ask if he would consider taking it down.'   According to the MEN, both Greater Manchester Police and Tameside Council declined to comment.

This type of incident is not unusual in the UK, in spite of the fact that Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998, guarantees the right of freedom of expression. In 2010, David Hoffman, a photojournalist, from Bow in East London, was threatened with arrest if he did not remove from his front window a poster that said 'David Cameron is a Wanker!'   In 2012, he received an apology and compensation from the police after they admitted it had been unlawful to insist that he remove the poster from his window and that this and other illegal actions by the police on the day, had amounted to 'unlawful interference with his Article 10 right to freedom of expression.'   Mr Hoffman, later displayed the letter of apology from the police in his front window, along with another poster that read -  'David Cameron is still a Wanker!'

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