At the end of a remarkable week for English law and freedom of expression, one is rather left with a puzzle.
Why are the English courts heroic and liberal when prising information - arguably of the most sensitive kind - from the government, when the same courts are so complacent and illiberal when preventing publication of information belonging to corporate entities?
Here I am thinking of the sheer legal brilliance of the judgment in the Binyam Mohamed case, where the judges - with great intellectual skill - demolish the submissions of the British government on the disclosure of US intelligence information; and I contrast this with what lawyer Mark Stephens rightly describes as the practice of English courts easily letting super-injunctions go through on the nod.
(Hear Mark Stephens on this podcast with fellow - and very highly recommended -legal blogger Charon QC.)
And so we have the remarkable situation where an English court will throw its weight against the publication in England of corporate information already in the public domain (albeit Wikileaks), and simultaneously in favour of disclosure of undoubtedly secret information known only to very few.
Had the Minton Report been provided to the UK government in strict confidence by the US government, it would appear that the English courts would this week have allowed its disclosure; but not if it was private information of a company to be published by The Guardian claiming the public interest, even when it was actually available to the world.
There are many reasons for this paradox, some of which come down to technical points as to the types of law and procedure involved; but the one which comes first to my mind is that the English courts are not (yet) in the habit of placing sufficient and consistent emphasis on the right to free expression.
And on this point, please kindly click over to the The Guardian website to see my first article for that great liberal institution, where I discuss the issue of free expression and English courts in the context of libel reform.