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13 June 2010

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Outcast
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Joined: 11 October 2006
Location: Peterborough
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Posts: 2181
Posted: 13 October 2009 at 15:04 | IP Logged Quote Outcast

Gag order blocks Guardian from reporting on Parliament

In a violation of British free speech rights dating back to the 1688 Bill of Rights, The Guardian newspaper has been forbidden by court order from reporting on a question in Parliament. We don't know who raised the question, what it was about, or where you can find it.

Quote:
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 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".


Guardian gagged from reporting parliament


The corporate-sponsored police state is almost here, by the sound of it... one might imagine this secret question could shed some light on the matter if normal practices and standards had persisted beyond now...


From Monbiot's earlier blog on this matter:
Quote:
Trafigura's attempts to gag the media prove that libel laws should be repealed
Defamation laws which Trafigura tried to use must no longer be allowed to hide corporate malpractice or stifle criticism

Members of the team specialised in treating toxic waste take samples of the toxic waste dumped in Akouedo, Ivory Coast. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP

If you are not convinced that Britain's libel laws operate against the public interest, check out the Trafigura case. Thousands of west Africans fell ill and an unknown number died in 2006 after hundreds of tonnes of the oil company's toxic oil waste were dumped in densely populated parts of Ivory Coast.

Now that the Guardian has found the smoking gun — the cynical and disgraceful emails from Trafigura traders discussing the creation and disposal of dangerous wastes – the company's attempts to stifle its critics have collapsed. But until now the coverage of the case in Britain, with a few honourable exceptions such as Newsnight and the Guardian's investigations team, has been curiously muted. This could be one of the worst cases of corporate killing and injury since the Bhopal disaster, but much of the media wouldn't touch it with a bargepole.

The reason isn't hard to divine: Trafigura has been throwing legal threats (pdf) around like confetti. It's true that the company has also threatened journalists in the Netherlands and Norway, but the law is less kind to such plaintiffs in those countries, and its threats were taken less seriously.

In Britain, libel (or defamation) is used as the rich man's sedition law, stifling criticism and exposure of all kinds of malpractice. Dating back to the 13th century, it was reframed during the past 200 years specifically to protect wealthy people from criticism, based on the presumption that any derogatory remark made about a gentleman must be false. The law of defamation is the only British instrument which places the burden of proof on the defendant. Given the inordinate costs involved, it's not surprising that it discourages people from investigating abuses of power.

How many Trafiguras have got away with it by fr*ghtening critics away with Britain's libel laws? How many Robert Maxwells have successfully fended off attempts to show that they have robbed, cheated and lied? These iniquitous, outdated laws are a threat to democracy, a threat to society, a threat to the environment and public health. They must be repealed.


And here's something from the Independent:
Call for murder charges to be brought over toxic dumping
Petition filed in Dutch court claims Trafigura knew waste that maimed thousands in Ivory Coast was hazardous.



Call for murder charges to be brought





Edited by Outcast on 13 October 2009 at 15:10


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