Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Sad Day For Freedom and Democracy

Yesterday was a sad day in British history, as for the first time in 200 years, the politicians (and a lobby group in favour of curbing the press), decided in secret negotiations in the middle of the night, that we should reintroduce legislative controls over the British press. We have now joined such countries as Russia where the courts and state prescribe what can be published or not, and we are not so far different now from an African regime such as that in Kenya or Zimbabwe.

What makes this all the worse, is that despite the politicians spending hours on it, they have devised such poor legislation, that we have ended up with 'the law of unintended consequences' being promoted,  because apparently 'Blogs' will very likely be included, and so if someone dislikes or objects to your blog opinions, you could be open to unlimited damages (and have to pay the *legal costs for all sides). The political parties are trying to claim that this isn't the case, but once a lawyer is involved, then it will be the courts, and not a government department, which will determine if the 'Royal Charter' (for such is the device they have used to execute the new 'laws') regulations have been breached. *If you don't join the regulation scheme, then you could face damages if you lose, and will always have to pay both sides legal costs, even if you win the court case ..... very, very, bad news for democracy.

The criteria to be caught up in all this is merely publishing 'news content' in the UK, and to to be aimed principally at British readers. So even before this pernicious bit of left wing inspired social control makes the statutes, we are already heading into the gagging of bloggers and small regional papers. I don't think that British public realised that the changes were not just for the major national dailies, but would impact blog-sites, celebrity gossip magazines, regional and local papers. This is not the first time, that we at this blog have raised the spectre of freedom being crushed, indeed we have done so on more than one occasion ....... including mentioning attacks on bloggers in the UK, and when the Labour Party was considering censorship laws to protect religion(s) against attack ....... But what should prove to everyone on the Left as well the Right, that this really is a very dangerous moment is that the editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop, has called the proposals "worrying".

How Long Before The Courts Act Against The First Bloggers?

Let's make something very clear ... the press hacking of phones, bribery of police, doorstepping and harassment, etc, etc, were all criminal offences under the current laws. The failure to stop these crimes rests fully with the Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and the Courts, but responding to these failure by suddenly removing press freedoms, to somehow right these wrongs, is totally stupid. Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press ethics was misused as an excuse to gag the press, and not to correct the failures in the Justice System. None of those abuses would have been stopped by this new law against the Press, and so its nothing more than a political sham led by that chancer Ed Milliband .... he may well live to rue the day he scored a petty political triumph by removing a British freedom.

The last time the government and courts had control over the press and written word, was in the days of the freedom champion John Wilkes, and the North Briton newspaper, who won a legal case against the Government in 1763, against the use of 'general warrants' to arrest writers, printers and publishers of 'anonymous works' ...  in other words, the 'blogs' of the day.

John Wilkes with the Cap of Liberty,
and the copy of the North Briton Newspaper

Maybe this blog (and others far more influential than this could ever hope to be), will be closed down for fear of imprisonment, if they can't pay the fines and legal fees of those they have offended. Maybe we can bring back the Debtors Prisons of Wilkes day for non payers? But the government, in a bout of back pedalling, has said that the new criteria that will determine whether a 'publisher' is liable under the charter regulator, protects "a single blogger", however many commentators say that it won't ..... we shall see.

But I fear that Caesar has now crossed the Rubicon, and can never turn back.


In further back tracking, as the enormity of the cock up they have engineered starts to dawn on them, the 'three amigos' have tried to clarify the position further.

Bloggers and Tweeters will fall outside the Charter they said. Three criteria (not two as previously stated), will now be applied.

  1. The 'publication' must be a business.
  2. It publishes news related material by a range of authors
  3. It is subject to Editorial control.
It will be up to the courts to determine which sites meet all three criteria.

The author of the political gossip website best known as 'Guido Fawkes' has said that they will have to "prize the keyboard from his cold dead hands" before he will submit ..... the shade of Charlton Heston stirred for a moment.


  1. I suspect that many who supported the celebs campaign against the press, don't realise that their 'Hello' magazines etc, are just basically making up much of the speculation inside ... they can now be forced to stop under the new regulations.

    Its only a matter of time before the first publication closes after this. Then of course we can't amend the charter with out 3/4 majority of Parliament ....very nasty law.

  2. last chance to speak out19 April 2013 at 22:34

    It's all gone quiet .... A very dangerous sign that this law is going to be very bad.

  3. Now the press have offered an alternative, so this may not be a dead topic.


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