Manchester

Christchurch shootings: Charges in UK after taxi driver 'abuse'

policeman stands outside a Christchurch mosque Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fifty people were killed at two mosques in New Zealand

Two people have been charged after a UK taxi driver was allegedly abused by passengers referencing the New Zealand mosque attacks.

Sean Allen, 33, and Natalie Rudman, 34, are charged with a racially aggravated public order offence.

Officers were called to Queensway in Rochdale at about midnight on Sunday.

Mr Allen, from Collyhurst, and Ms Rudman, from Heywood, will appear at Manchester Magistrates' Court on 9 April.

Officers attended the incident in response to "a report that passengers had referenced the New Zealand terrorist attacks while abusing and threatening a taxi driver", Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

Separately, a woman, aged 38, also from Rochdale, was arrested for online comments about the attacks that killed 50 people at two Christchurch mosques.

On Saturday, the force arrested a 24-year-old man, from Oldham, over a malicious social media post. He has been bailed pending further inquiries.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People left tributes to the victims in Christchurch on Sunday

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian who described himself as a white supremacist, has been charged following the shootings, which took place during Friday prayers.

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson, of GMP, said there had been "a small number of incidents where people have either posted or made remarks... particularly online where people often think it is acceptable to abuse others".

"Some of these comments are frankly disgusting. I am amazed how some people think it is acceptable to make such careless and disrespectful remarks," he added.

"People are entitled to free speech and this is always respected, however, where this crosses the boundary into criminal offences, let me be really clear, we will make arrests and if the evidence is there we will seek the prosecution of those involved."

Vigils are being held across Manchester this weekend following the attacks.

An image of Christian charity worker Andrew Graystone outside a Manchester mosque, while holding a placard saying: "You are my friends. I will keep watch while you pray", has been widely shared across the world.

In the West Midlands, a 49-year-old man was sectioned under the Mental Health Act after a man and woman said they had been racially abused on Cobden Street, Darlaston, on Saturday.

Police said they are also looking to trace a second woman who said the man had referred to the New Zealand terror attack while abusing her.

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