THE High Court has ruled that it was “reasonable” for two protesters to call a former leader of the Conservative Party “Tory scum”.

Ruth Wood, 52, and Radical Haslam, 30, were acquitted of any wrongdoing following an incident which took place outside the annual Conservative Party conference in 2021.

As former minister Iain Duncan Smith left the Midland Hotel in Manchester, where the conference was taking place, with his wife Betsy and their friend Primrose Yorke, an individual ran up behind him and placed a traffic cone on his head.

Wood and Haslam then followed the group at a short distance and called the MP “Tory scum”.

Wood added: “F**k off out of Manchester”.

The 52-year old defended her comments on the grounds that she worked with homeless people in her community and saw the devastating impact of Tory policies on their quality of life.

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Neither of the protesters had been aware the act of putting a traffic cone on the MP's head.

The pair were initially acquitted of any crime however an attempt was made to overturn their acquittal, which the high court rejected on Wednesday.

Lord Justice Popplewell and Justice Fordham found that a senior district judge had made no fault in finding them both not guilty of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent.

Following a request for a judicial review in the ruling, it was found that Judge Goldspring had made the important finding that “the use of Tory scum was to highlight the policies” of Iain Duncan Smith.

Goldspring added that this was relevant to the “reasonableness of the conduct” with regards to freedom of expression and assembly.

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The High Court ruled that there was nothing to undermine the judge’s conclusion that criminalising the words “Tory scum” would be a disproportionate action, which would interfere with the rights of protesters.

The barrister representing Wood and Haslam, Tom Wainwright, said: “Just the idea that someone can be convicted for saying this is bizarre in the first place. The director of public prosecutions was trying to put the burden on the defendants to show that they hadn’t crossed the line – the crucial question of when free speech crosses the line into something that is criminal.

“What this judgment confirms is that it is not for the defence to show that, but it is for the state to show that there is a good reason to restrict free speech and that a conviction is the only way that could be done.”