"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Banned, Banned & Gagged + Update

Banned: Recyclables from landfill
Banned: Cigarette vending machines
Gagged: The press. Guido has more.  This must be the gag Harold Evans talked about on the Marr Show a couple of weeks ago.

(Sorry, I can't remember who did the graphic. Leave a note in the comments and I'll put it right)
UPDATE: Carter £uck & Trafigura have backed down over the gagging order on the Guardian.
"Bloggers were active this morning in speculating about what lay behind the ban on the Guardian reporting parliamentary questions. Proposals being circulated online included plans for a protest outside the offices of Carter-Ruck.
The ban on reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds appeared to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.
Today's published Commons order papers contained Farrelly's question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian was initially prevented from identifying the MP who had asked the question, what the question was, which minister might answer it, or where the question was to be found.
The only fact the Guardian was able report was that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients including individuals and global corporations.
The media lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said Lord Denning ruled in the 1970s that "whatever comments are made in parliament" can be reported in newspapers without fear of contempt.
He said: "Four rebel MPs asked questions giving the identity of 'Colonel B', granted anonymity by a judge on grounds of 'national security'. The DPP threatened the press might be prosecuted for contempt, but most published."
The right to report parliament was the subject of many struggles in the 18th century, with the MP and journalist John Wilkes fighting every authority – up to the king – over the right to keep the public informed. After Wilkes's battle, wrote the historian Robert Hargreaves, "it gradually became accepted that the public had a constitutional right to know what their elected representatives were up to".
SpyBlog has an interesting post about the judges involved.

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