A bizarre decision by the police means I must step in to defend the principle of free speech.

A senior officer has launched an investigation claiming my newspapers have ‘created a platform for racial hatred’.

An article about vandals who defaced a mosque with the words ‘terrorize your own country’ attracted a large number of comments from readers when it was published online.

The story was balanced and included statements from the Met and TellMAMA, where anti-Muslim abuse can be reported.

We have a strict website policy for comments and anything complained about which breaks this policy is deleted. Though in this instance, we received no complaints from readers.

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The borough commander claims publishing this story and allowing people to express their opinions about it could amount to offences under the public order act and wants the comments removed.

For the police to seek to intimidate publishers to remove lawful, honest opinion from their readers is disgraceful and a direct attack upon free speech.

They appear to be confusing police work with the enforcement of political correctness.

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Seeking to control the media in this way and either banning or controlling what people can say would be more at home in countries like Russia or Thailand.

I realise the police have a duty to protect individuals and communities who feel vulnerable in the current climate but an over-reaction of this kind does more harm than good and ultimately works against the very democracy we must fight to protect.

The latest terror attack, this time in north London, appears to be the result of abhorrent Islamophobic views. All right-minded people will condemn this latest attack and wish it hadn’t happened.

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I understand the argument about not wanting to give such terrorists the publicity they so crave but there is no way an act like this can go unreported or that people should not be given every opportunity to share their views about it. To seek to do otherwise would be a massively retrograde step.

I await the outcome of the police investigation into comments on our website with interest but whatever the result we will continue to report the news and we will continue to allow people the chance to comment.