Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: Being annoying is still legal




Nudists, street preachers, noisy  children, bell ringers, chuggers,  protesters, you have been reprieved. The House of Lords has voted down ministers’ plan to let courts stop people being annoying in public. The idea was to replace Asbos with injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance (Ipnas). These could be served on anyone over the age of 10 and last indefinitely, resulting in a prison term if broken.

How many people do each of us annoy every day, without meaning to? (Sometimes we mean to.) I’m not talking about the heinously anti-social here, but the types whose baby elephants hurdle around the flat above you, the neighbours who stage live exorcisms at 2am, the relentless Alanis Morissette songs [shudder]... Yet the inconvenient, the exasperating and the tiresome are part of the ebb and flow of human existence.

As the crossbench peer Lord Dear pointed out yesterday, in leading opposition to the new laws: “This is a crowded island that we live in and we must exercise a degree, surely, of tolerance and forbearance.”


Without being the Timelord, one can confidently predict that Downing  Street will, in this morning’s briefing to parliamentary Lobby journalists, be asked to respond to our front page – and deny that there’s any tension whatsoever between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. Indeed, one ally of George Osborne is quoted in our cover story today saying the two men are “at one” in protecting  so-called “pensioner perks”. (They are not.) So why do we run a story based on unnamed sources, knowing it will be publicly denied? Because it  is true, it is impeccably sourced by our  Political Editor Andy Grice, whose care and contacts are his currency,  and it gives rare insight into policy formation at the highest level, beyond the line fed to the public.


Twitter.com: @olyduff

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