AN OUTSPOKEN blogger accused of sending grossly offensive and menacing tweets to a Bexley councillor has had his conviction overturned. 

John Graham Kerlen did not deny posting the two messages last October, the first of which included a picture of Councillor Melvin Seymour's house in Crayford with the words: "To start, which c*** lives in a house like this? Answers on a postcard to Bexley Council."

The IT technician then tweeted: "It is silly posting a picture of a councillor's house on Twitter without his address.

"That will come later. Please feel free to post him actual s***."

On Friday Judge Philip Shorrock allowed Mr Kerlen’s appeal against a conviction for sending grossly offensive and menacing messages.

Judge Shorrock rejected the prosecution's case the comments and photograph were communications of a menacing character and told Woolwich Crown Court: "Giving the original English meaning of these words, I cannot agree.

"Nobody reading these remarks could have argued that this was a serious intention."

Mr Kerlen, 37, of Millwards in Essex, was found not guilty of harassment in January but at Bexley Magistrates' Court in April he was convicted of sending grossly offensive and menacing messages to Cllr Seymour. 

Prosecuting, Adaku Oragwu said: "The tweets are capable of being grossly offensive.

"He knew where he lived. It's pretty likely the threat could have been carried out."

Simon Connolly, defending, argued the messages were a "flippant joke". "This was banter on the internet to a relatively small following," he said.

Writing under the name Olly Cromwell, Mr Kerlen never actually tweeted Cllr Seymour's address, opposite the house in which he himself used to live.

Cllr Seymour does not use Twitter and was only alerted to the tweets by a fellow councillor five days after they were posted. He contacted police immediately.

Mr Kerlen has often been critical of Bexley Council on his blog,, and was banned from attending meetings in July after trying to film without permission.

After the verdict he spoke to News Shopper through his solicitor. The statement said: "Mr Kerlen and his family are delighted the court has finally recognised his rights to express himself freely.

"He is disappointed the prosecution didn't review his case and withdraw the prosecution earlier."

Judge Shorrock did uphold a restraining order previously imposed on Kerlen preventing him from contacting Cllr Seymour or his family in any way until May 2017.

But he rescinded other parts of the order which would have prevented him blogging or tweeting about Cllr Seymour or any other Bexley councillor

An application for misplaced costs was successful after a previous appeal hearing had to be adjourned because a witness for the prosecution did not appear.

But Mr Kerlen was granted only £200 plus VAT and not the £2,930 he had asked for.

Following the verdict a Bexley Council spokesman said: "While we are disappointed that the appeal was upheld, we note that the judge described the tweet at the centre of the case as 'offensive' and we are pleased that he decided to leave the restraining order in place against Mr Kerlen until 2017.

"We welcome the judge's decision to award only token costs to the defendant, in recognition of the part that Mr Kerlen's behaviour played in the case coming to court.  

"We are totally supportive of freedom of expression and legitimate political debate, but felt that Mr Kerlen's actions went beyond the limits of what is acceptable and reasonable.

"Councillors have a difficult and demanding role representing their residents' views and interests.

"They have been elected by a majority of voters and are entitled to know that their families and their homes are not legitimate targets for abuse."