Tuesday 13 October 2009

Enough is Enough

I am the first to admit that the media in this country can leave a lot to be desired at times - if you read some of our papers on a regular basis it's a miracle you ever leave the house - however there a couple of things that I've always been proud that our country has always believed in, that are sacrosanct, and reporting the workings of our Parliament has always been one of them.

However, the Guardian has been gagged from reporting something that is tabled to take place in the House later this week, which is absolutely appalling and I'm pretty confident that the court will find illegal as well.

The slow erosion of civil rights in this country is becoming a subject of increasing concern to me, not the fact that we have legislation designed to protect us, more that we have bodies determined to abuse it  - by trying to prevent peaceful demonstrations for example.

I'm going to be registering my disgust about this gagging with my MP (I know I now sound 70 but there you go, I am outraged of Roehampton right now!), and if you have strong feelings about this may I suggest you do the same.

I have reproduced the majority of the story below or you can read the whole thing here.

The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

The Guardian has vowed urgently to go to court to overturn the gag on its reporting. The editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: "The media laws in this country increasingly place newspapers in a Kafkaesque world in which we cannot tell the public anything about information which is being suppressed, nor the proceedings which suppress it. It is doubly menacing when those restraints include the reporting of parliament itself."


Anonymous said...

Norman Baker (Lewes): To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, for what reason the Secretary of State has not registered with the appropriate authorities his visit to the Bilderberg Conference in Greece in May 2009.?

Anonymous said...

But then this story has already seen light of day.

Anonymous said...

Comments elsewhere suggest it is this:

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

Never underestimate the power of Google!

Melissa Cole said...

I will be interested to see what shakes out from this, thanks for the hard work unearthing the potential angles, I'm afraid I only had time for indignation today!

Anonymous said...

What hard work? It took me all of five minutes on Google. When will judges learn that the World has changed completely (well almost) when it comes to supressing information.
BTW, if your website is hosted abroad, take the phone off the hook, leave your laptop, Blackberry and mobile at home and go visit the British Museum for the next few hours. Carter-Ruck might come calling. Whatever you do, don't go near Waterloo Station! If your website is hosted in the UK, there is not much you can do.
Me, I'm off for a walk for the next six hours.:>) <-- I hate these things but I don't want you to take the last part of this comment seriously.

Neville Grundy said...

I think this may be a story that Private Eye referred to in its most recent issue, but was gagged from giving details or face contempt of court proceedings. Carter Ruck are frequently and scatologically referred to in PE because of their successful defence of the rich and powerful, usually those who wish to conceal their activities from public scrutiny.