Columnist arrested over 'race' speech

BBC 11/20/02

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A former presenter of One Man and His Dog has been arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred in a pro-hunting speech.

Robin Page, 61, a farmer and countryside campaigner, was questioned over remarks he made at a fair in Frampton on Severn, Gloucestershire.

Mr Page was invited to the event by its organisers, the Frampton Court Estate, to urge people to attend the Liberty and Livelihood March in London.

But several people complained to police about his speech, in which he allegedly said supporters of the traditional country way of life should be given the same rights as blacks, Muslims and gays.

On Monday Gloucestershire Police asked Mr Page to attend an interview at a police station in Cambridge, near his farm in Barton.

The Daily Telegraph columnist was subsequently arrested on suspicion of committing public order offences by breaching section 18 of the Public Order Act, which refers to the stirring up of racial hatred.

Mr Page denies having made racist comments at the event on 6 September.

Establishment blamed

He said: "I believe country people should have the same rights and protection under the law as any other minority group in a multi-cultural society.

"It is beyond my comprehension that I am not allowed to say that in a public place, where I was invited on to private land."

He said his arrest was an example of the way country people had been "victimised" by the establishment.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police confirmed a man from Barton, Cambridgeshire, was arrested on suspicion of committing public order offences.

Mr Page was released on bail and is to report back to Stroud Police Station on 6 January.

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