Saturday, 4 June 2011

Britain's Got Talented Lawyers

The recent anonymous allegations published about Britain's Got Talent seemed too well-written to be by a random industry executive and too packed with verifiable detail to just be a casual hoax.

The allegations were soon taken down at the behest of the programme's lawyers, and perhaps we will never know the true circumstances of what is being alleged.

Lawyers also reported the page to the police under the terms of the Malicious Communications Act, which surely means that there is now some detective somewhere wondering how the hell to apply the offence under that Act to this case.

He or she must be delighted.

So the lawyers did their job quickly and well; and, indeed, we do have some talented lawyers in this jurisdiction.

All the same, this did not stop the Daily Mail safely publishing a lawyered (or "abridged") version of the allegations. Again, we do have talented lawyers.

Soon we had carefully worded denials - sometimes so carefully worded that one was not certain what was actually being denied.

And, who undoubtedly wrote these denials?

Yes, more of these talented lawyers.

One cannot know the truth or otherwise of those allegations.

One may not even care, for as Marina Hyde brilliantly explains today in the Guardian, there is enough about the programme and its underlying commercial model to depress and annoy any sensible person anyway.

But what is clear is that these allegations will not be addressed head on, and will not be rebutted or admitted, because of talented lawyers and those who instruct them.

No lawyer is to blame: the practice of law is merely what instructions of your client the system of law allows you to get away with.

What is at fault is the system of law which easily allows those who are being criticised - fairly or not - to use the law to close down what is unwanted rather than address it.

Britain may well have talented lawyers, but we also have a talent for bad law.


No purely anonymous comments will be published; always use a name for ease of reference by other commenters.


Jennie Kermode said...

The issues surrounding the value of the programme, and those relating to Cowell's reputation, are one thing. The child safety issue is another. If there really is a child at risk in this situation, social services may need to take action.

Yvonne said...

Simon Cowell may not have addressed this head on but Bryan Gunn (one time manager of Norwich City Football Club and mentioned in the original anonymously blogged allegations) and Ronan Parke himself have both strenuously denied on air the main gist of what was written by someone who was not even prepared to put his name to what he wrote.

Howard Fredrics said...

As DJ Kreiman wrote in the case of R v Fredrics, "Harassment laws were not intended to protect reputations." The same could be said of the Malicious Communications act, which was designed to deal with threatening letters, emails, and other phone calls. If there is any issue here, it is civil in nature i.e. a libel claim. But even that would have to demonstrate that the allegations concerning Britain's Got Talent are false.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

See also the movie Quiz Show.


Dave Angel said...

Yet another example of how the current law has no way of coping with anything posted on the internet. Until the law catches up there will be victims on both sides.