Wednesday, April 27, 2005

'Immigrant' can imply hostility

Use of the word immigrant as an insult can amount to proof of racial hostility, the court of appeal ruled yesterday. The court held that a charge of racially aggravated assault against a woman who attacked a GP after referring to him as "an immigrant doctor" had been wrongly thrown out by Judge Breen at Luton crown court in January. He decided that "immigrant" did not denote membership of a specific racial group under the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act. But three appeal judges said he should have left the matter to the jury. The defendant, Mrs D, took her son aged three to a Bedford surgery because of a rash. Dr Hair Newal said the child could go home. When Mrs D demanded an immediate diagnosis, he suggested she find another doctor. She replied: "I can't find another doctor. All the good doctors are taken up by asylum seekers and I am left with an immigrant doctor." She then tore the letter he was writing and tried to grab her son's medical records. Dr Newal suffered scratches. Lord Justice Auld said use of the word "immigrant" could denote membership of a broad racial group. The judge was wrong to rule it simply meant "non-British". It had been for the jury to decide whether the use of the word demonstrated racial hostility.


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