Jonathan Hall KC, the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has acknowledged that historical events such as apartheid actions of Nelson Mandela and the revolutionary battles of Scotland’s William Wallace fit the definition of terrorism as well as the Hamas attacks on 7 October 2023 with respect to if glorifying them could . It is argued that the requirement that people could reasonably infer that there is an encouragement to emulate the conduct protects support for these actions from prosecution. As I understand it this is derived from the The Terrorism Act 2006:

For the purposes of this section, the statements that are likely to be understood by [F3a reasonable person] as indirectly encouraging the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences include every statement which—

(a)glorifies the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of such acts or offences; and

(b)is a statement from which F4... members of the public could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified is being glorified as conduct that should be emulated by them in existing circumstances.

From this it would seem that this could cover a lot of the use of history to guide future struggles. That this applies to the apartheid struggle and wars of Scottish Independence are mentioned by Jonathan Hall, under current law this could include the suffragette movement, most partisan groups during WW2, most violent independence movements including the US, the constitutionally protected independence movement of Timor-Leste and much of Africa, and perhaps even Samson in the bible.

Suppose Alice made a statement in the form "Group X should use the tactics of group Y in the current struggle, it is relevant to existing circumstances because..." where group Y was involved in some form of activity that could meet the current definition of terrorism if carried out in the UK today. What features of X would be examined as to whether this act is illegal under the The Terrorism Act 2006?

  • Through the eyes of an outsider it has seemed very weird to outlaw “glorification” of, essentially, one tactic in war. It would presumably be ok under the law in the UK to glorify a large nation (say Russia) bombing a location that included civilians. Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


At least two former independent reviewers of terrorism legislation, Lords Carlile and Anderson, have made similar remarks as Hall's.

There is no geographical or historical limit. If it meets the definition of terrorism then on paper it's terrorism. It doesn't matter whether we agree with the historical group's over-arching goals.

Alice puts herself at risk by saying something to the effect of, "group X should use the [terror] tactics of group Y."

That's clearly encouraging terrorism - it's not even implied (which is also illegal).

Alice must not behave so as to appear to call for those acts to be copied or emulated today.

Hall's report on whether reform required in light of pro-Palestine marches during Oct/Nov 2023.

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