Monday, 12 October 2009

The Guardian Injunction

At about 20:30 this evening, The Guardian posted an article stating - incredibly - that it had been gagged from reporting an item of parliamentary business.

Within an hour or so, some twitterers were linking to this article, and I saw it.

I thought it a carefully worded article, almost like a crossword clue.

So I set to work, just for my own personal pleasure, and I found what was likely to be the parliamentary question ("PQ") straight away.

After all, the parliamentary website is not that difficult to search if you are familiar with it. And published order papers are in turn not difficult to search.

About the very same time I hit on the likely PQ, another blogger and skeptic hit on it independently, and he twittered it. Then it started going viral.

Soon it was clear that a very famous political blogger had also hit on the PQ and was publishing it in full.

It is not for this Blog to publish direct links to these possible disclosures. The court has ordered an injunction, and so there will be nothing on this Blog which will circumvent that.

However, one does wonder whether The Guardian knew that this is what would happen...


Unity said...

I believe that the Groan's response to that question might go something along the lines of 'you might think that but I couldn't possibly comment'.

Tom said...

The comment that all they could report was the name of the solicitors certainly seemed like a very useful hint.

Anonymous said...

Is this a sign of things to come? I liked papers when only the crosswords came in cryptic form.

The Chemist said...

Not to overly disparage your legal system, but these laws do far more harm than good as they stand right know (as you acknowledge I'm sure). Is the popular sentiment in the UK so in favor them that they can't be set straight? Or is it a matter of entrenched interests?

I'm an American, and I'm well aware we are hardly perfect (we did set a major precedent based on a transcription error, after all) but this makes me suddenly very forgiving of the all the lies that get published about politicians here- it seems to clear the way for the truth about them to get published as well.

I've only recently discovered this blog, though I've been familiar with the case of Simon Singh for a while. I think I'll stay awhile.

Scott @ loveandgarbage said...

There are 3 systems in the UK. The gagging injunction only applies in one - oops.

Niklas said...

"It is not for this Blog to publish direct links to these possible disclosures. The court has ordered an injunction, and so there will be nothing on this Blog which will circumvent that."

I understand your position entirely, especially as you are a practising lawyer. But surely if an injunction is so flagrantly in breach of a fundamental constitutional law (for that is what parliamentary privilege is) can be safely ignored? And surely citizens such as myself have some kind of moral duty to breach the injunction in an act of civil disobediance?

Carter-Ruck are a national shame, as are our libel laws. And who on earth was the judge who handed down this injunction? I would respectfully submit that he got out on the wrong side of bed yesterday morning.

Colin said...

Does the injunction apply universally, or only to the Guardian? How would we even go about finding out, given that just about every detail of it seems to have been hushed up?

Tom said...

Re: The Chemist, above - is this actually a libel case? I can't see anything even vaguely libellous in the question; my impression was that it might be a privacy case since the question refers to the existence of something confidential.

Nick said...

How does the injunction bind you? As you say, you independently found the question which has been published by Parliament.

truthspeaker said...

As an American I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, a request for such an injunction would be laughed out of court here. American newspapers have no obligation to refrain from publishing leaked documents. On the other hand, Carter-Ruck would never need to seek such an injunction in the US. All they would have to do is threaten the newspaper with decreased advertising revenue to get the story killed.