Newspaper Legally Prevented From Reporting On Government

October 12th, 2009 | researchmaterial

This is just fucking disgusting.

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.

If it comes out that the Government were instrumental in having Carter-Ruck gag a national newspaper from reporting on Parliament, all hell will break loose. Christ, even if it turns out a single MP actually went out of his or her way to engage a legal firm against free reportage in Parliament…

EDITED TO ADD:

At parliament.uk, a free resource, one finds, in the “Questions for Oral or Written Answer beginning on Tuesday 13 October 2009″:

61 N
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.
(293006)

62N
Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years.


16 Responses to “Newspaper Legally Prevented From Reporting On Government”

  1. Oh wow, if an elected official tried to screw with constitutional rights in the US there would be lynch mobs.

    Actual lynch mobs, with rope.

  2. It seems just last month though Carter-Ruck was banging on the Guardians door over their story reporting the Trafigura toxic waste dumping (which killed 17 people).
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/13/trafigura-ivory-coast-documents-toxic-waste
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_C%C3%B4te_d%27Ivoire_toxic_waste_dump

  3. Yeah. The Guardian’s my daily newspaper.

  4. Oops. Looks like someone forgot to turn on their Streisand Effect dampening field.

  5. Can someone kind of summarize this? I’m just a stupid American after all. What’s Carter-Ruck / 61N, 62N all about? I take that’s what the Guardian can’t print, but ultimately, from my view, I don’t see what would be National Security or really all the bad in printing. Just odd.

  6. @James Bong
    Ha ha ha ha really? Like when the US government let Habeas Corpus die and no one cared? for example…

  7. Bill: Members of Parliament can ask the government questions to be answered in person by a government Minister, either in oral form (spoken in the house) or in written form (in which case they generally appear in Hansard, which is a daily report on the proceedings in the house).

    MPs generally table their question by addressing it to the Secretary of State, who then has the appropriate Minister provide an answer from his department. The ’61N’ and ’62N’ in this case are the ‘notice of question for written or oral answer’ numbers in the ‘minutes’ of the house.

    In this case, it appears that the MP for Newcastle has tabled a question asking whether the current laws protecting whistleblowers and journalists are sufficient, given that there have been two high profile cases (the Barclays and Trafigura cases mentioned) where injunctions have been granted against reporting them. It is highly likely that what is stopping the Guardian reporting in this case is the Trafigura and Carter-Ruck injunction probably contains a restriction on reporting anything at all related to the incident, including government proceedings on it. At least, that’s my reading of the situation anyway.

  8. It’s not about national security. It’s about power and privilege and the willingness of judges to bend over for big business. More details here: http://renekinzett.blogspot.com/2009/10/contempt-of-democracy.html

    Sorry for linking to a Tory blog, it has the details.

  9. @Dan Ballard

    Or when the 4th Amendment was effectively repealed by the Patriot Act and the erosion of FISA protections?

    Whew. Key members of Congress just barely escaped the chaos that overcame Washington THAT day. Shame what happened to the Capitol Building.

  10. [...] Newspaper Legally Prevented From Reporting On Government(warrenellis.com) [...]

  11. Details of the Minton Report on Wikileaks:
    http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Minton_report:_Trafigura_Toxic_dumping_along_the_Ivory_Coast_broke_EU_regulations%2C_14_Sep_2006

  12. 38 Degrees are currently running a campaign on this. Take action now by emailing your MP and asking them to take a stand. Take action now, it only takes 2 mins. Go to:

    38degrees.org.uk/stop-the-gag

  13. [...] – Warren Ellis responds. [...]

  14. Interesting bit on how this kind of excessive libel protection is being killed by the speed-media of Twitter: http://uk.techcrunch.com/2009/10/13/theres-nowhere-to-hide-if-your-name-trends-on-twitter-is-there-trafigura/

  15. Apparently Trafigura’s given up on attempting to gag the question in Parliament: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/oct/13/trafigura-drops-gag-guardian-oil
    The original injuction on the Minton report remains in place though.

  16. Welcome to Italy, mate! XD