Charge against Brussels tweet man dropped

Place de la Bourse Image copyright Patrick Stollarz/AFP
Image caption Tuesday's attacks in Brussels killed 31 people and injured hundreds more

Police have dropped a race-hate charge against a man who allegedly tweeted about confronting a Muslim woman over the Brussels terror attacks.

Matthew Doyle, 46, of south Croydon, was charged on Friday morning under Section 19 of the Public Order Act.

Following discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Met said he was "no longer charged" and will not be appearing in court.

It said police may not make charging decisions over section 19 of the Act.

A Met Police spokesman said it was for the CPS, and not the police, to make the decision to charge, and it was withdrawn.

The incident is still under investigation and Mr Doyle has been released while police consult the CPS.

Guidance on the CPS website about racist and religious crime states that a charge under the act "can only be prosecuted with consent of Attorney General" and requires a referral to the Counter Terrorism Division to "be dealt with by specialist prosecutor".

The offence carries a maximum jail term of seven years.

Mr Doyle, who was arrested on Wednesday, had been charged with publishing or distributing threatening, abusive or insulting material, likely or intended to stir up racial hatred.

It followed the posting of a message on his Twitter profile about confronting a Muslim woman in south London over the Brussels attacks, which was widely shared on social media and spawned a wave of parodies.

The Met said further consultation with the CPS would take place.

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