Browse > Home / Archive by category 'Politics'

Media release: Libel reform campaigners respond to Queen’s Speech

May 9th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Politics

The Libel Reform Campaign announced a “victory” today as the Queen’s Speech confirmed legislation will be introduced in the next 12 months to reform defamation law.

The campaign issued a number of comments from those involved in the campaign, some of which are listed below:

Tracey Brown, managing director, Sense About Science:

We and thousands of others have campaigned to stop the libel laws’ bullying and chilling effects on discussions about health, scientific research, consumer safety, history and human rights. We are really pleased to see the government has moved closer to honouring its promise of a fairer law and protection of free speech in today’s Queen’s Speech. This opens the way to developing a law guided by public interest not powerful interests.

Simon Singh, defendant in British Chiropractic Association v Singh:

I continue to be contacted by journalists, scientists and others who are being silenced by libel threats or libel claims. The reform promised in the Queen’s speech today is a welcome response to the intolerable effects of the current laws. I hope that the government will now move rapidly to bring forward a bill that protects those writing about serious matters in the public interest.

Jo Glanville, editor, Index on Censorship:

We have now have a chance for libel legislation that’s fit for the  21st century. The introduction of the single publication rule and greater protection for internet service providers will help to put an  end to the chilling effect online.

Justine Roberts, co-founder and CEO, Mumsnet:

While the draft Defamation Bill was a very good start, it didn’t go far enough to protect freedom of expression, particularly in the online environment. Websites and hosts of user-generated comment risk becoming tactical targets for those who wish to clamp down on criticism or investigation of their activities.

Philip Campbell PhD, editor-in-chief, Nature:

It is essential to the public trust in science that scientific integrity is upheld and that bad behaviour is brought to light. It is therefore imperative that libel legislation be revised to achieve a better balance of interests between those accused of misconduct and those who should be better able to write about them.

Hardeep Singh, journalist and libel defendant:

The inclusion of the defamation bill in the Queen’s Speech marks a major milestone for The Libel Reform Campaign. It can’t be right that ordinary people risk their livelihoods when getting caught up in costly libel proceedings.

The government has already investigated ways to weed out unmeritorious claims, whereby claimants will have to show serious harm before a case progresses. If passed by Parliament, these types of amendments will not only make our libel laws fairer, but go some way in restoring London’s reputation from being a ‘town called sue’.

Till Sommer, Internet Service Providers Association:

ISPA welcomes the Government’s commitment to libel reform. The current regulatory framework has failed to provide clarity to hosting and Internet service providers and has ultimately has had a chilling effect on freedom of speech online. We hope that Parliament will address the current shortcomings in the upcoming session and we will follow the political process closely to ensure that the reforms strike the best possible compromise between protecting providers, claimants and authors.

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Rupert Murdoch’s first day at #Leveson in his own words

April 25th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers, Politics

Rupert Murdoch’s first day of evidence to the Leveson inquiry covered a wide range of subjects, including his personal and professional interests, his thoughts on politicians and issues of newspaper ethics.

On newspaper ethics:

All of us regret that some of our colleagues fell far short of what is expected of them. I feel great personal regret that we did not respond more quickly or more effectively.

There have been abuses shown. I would say there are many other abuses but we can all go into that in time.

I don’t believe in using hacking. I don’t believe in using private detectives – it’s a lazy way of reporters not doing their job.

Reference to the infamous “It Woz the Sun Wot Won It” front page after the 92 election:

It was tasteless and wrong for us. We don’t have that sort of power.

Response to question on attacks made by the Sun on Neil Kinnock:

It was fair to attack his policies and even sometimes the way he expressed himself. I thought the Sun’s front page on the eve of the election was absolutely brilliant. We would have supported the Labour party if it had a different policy.

On his personal motivations:

I enjoy meeting our leaders, some impress me more than others and I meet them around the world. I could tell you one or two who have particularly impressed me.

If any politician wanted my opinion on major matters they only had to read editorials in the Sun.

It’s a myth that I used the supposed political power of the Sun to get preferable treatment.

If I had been interested in pure business I would have supported the Tory party in every election. They were always more pro-business.

On his relationship with politicians:

I’ve explained that politicians go out of their way to impress the people in the press. I think it’s part of the democratic process, all politicians of all sides like to have their views known by editors in the hopes their views will be put across and they will impress people. That’s the game.

On Thatcher:

I became [a great admirer] after she was elected and I remain a great admirer

On Gordon Brown:

He later, when the hacking scandal broke, made a totally outrageous statement that he had to know was wrong and he called us a criminal organisation, because he said we had hacked into his personal medical records, when he knew very well how the Sun had found out about his son, which was very sad.

On Alex Salmond:

I don’t know much about the SNP, I just find him an attractive person.

He’s an amusing guy and I enjoy his company; I enjoy listening to him.

On the BBC:

It’s a waste of time to speak to politicians about the BBC.

Prime ministers all hated the BBC and all gave it everything it wanted.

On The Hitler Diaries:

When the editor told me very excitedly that they’d bought these British rights to documents from a very reputable German publisher, he got [historian Hugh Trevor-Roper - Lord Dacre] to go to Switzerland to examine those diaries and after some hours with them he declared he thought they were genuine.

Very close to publication, people were debating it and Lord Dacre did show doubts. The majority of us thought we should go ahead. I take full responsibility for it – it was a major mistake I made and one I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life.

For more coverage, read Journalism.co.uk’s liveblog of today’s proceedings and articles on Murdoch’s regret over phone-hacking and meetings with Thatcher about The Times.

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

The Twitter reaction to France’s ban on discussing predicted presidential results

April 23rd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Politics, Social media and blogging

By Guillaume Paumier on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

“The results were like the elephant in the room” – that’s what one journalist told Journalism.co.uk after users were said to have taken to Twitter to try and get around a ban on the discussion of predicted results in the French presidential election.

The law, which dates from 1977, bans the reporting of results, projections and exit polls on the day before and day of the election until the closure of the last polling stations.

The ban will also apply to the run-off between Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande on Sunday 6 May and is expected to remain in place, after Jean-Francois Pillon, the head of France’s polling commission, reportedly said he would call on state prosecutors to bring charges against media organisations and individuals who had allegedly defied the ban.

The last polling stations closed at 8pm on Sunday, but before this deadline the hashtag #radiolondres, a reference to resistance broadcasts made in the Second World War, was being used to discuss the projected results, with the candidates being given code-names to try and circumvent the ban.

Nicola Hebden, a freelance journalist covering the election, told Journalism.co.uk the events highlighted the issue of attempting to ban information spreading on Twitter:

While we were broadcasting, the results were like the elephant in the room – we all knew them – the news team, the viewers – but we weren’t allowed to talk about them on air.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Media release: AP supplying Super Tuesday results on a Google map

March 6th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Politics

The Associated Press is supplying feed of Super Tuesday vote results to a Google Map which subscribers to the news agency will be able to embed on their news site and other platforms.

In a release, AP said it is working with Google are to make the mapping application available to subscribers of AP Election Services for today’s Super Tuesday results, when 10 states cast their votes to select a Republican candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in November’s election.

Brian Scanlon, director of AP Election Services said in the release:

Our subscribers have always had the option to create these maps on election night, but some of them faced cross-platform challenges. Now, we have a turnkey mapping solution. Its an arrangement that not only makes sense for AP and Google, but also our customers and ultimately the end-user.

Eric Hysen of the Google Politics & Elections team said:

Google is excited to work with the Associated Press to help visualise and distribute the state-by-state results for Super Tuesday. Our Google results maps will show statewide and county level AP results in real-time at google.com/elections. AP subscribers will also be able to embed the results map on their own websites. We look forward to a successful and exciting Super Tuesday.

Tags: , ,

Similar posts:

Index: Hungary faces squeeze on freedoms

Copyright: Zselosz in Flickr. Some rights reserved

Sándor Orbán, the director of the South East European Network for Professionalisation of Media, reports for Index on Censorship on the raft of new laws passed by the ruling Fidesz party and the threat to democracy and media freedom.

The new constitution put an end to liberal democracy in Hungary. It was pushed through the parliament without any public discussion by a populist prime minister, who used his party’s super-majority to rush the legislation, passed in only few weeks last spring.

Hundreds of controversial new laws — including the ones on media — have been passed since the Hungarian Civic Union, Fidesz, came to power in 2010. Their election has led to the elimination of many of the checks and balances in the democratic system.

See the full post on Index at this link.

See Journalism.co.uk’s full coverage of Hungary’s controversial media law reform at this link.

Tags: , ,

Similar posts:

Press v politicians: can tabloids still take on the over-mighty?

January 4th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Politics, Press freedom and ethics

Image by DanBrady on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Imagine a top tabloid newspaper supported a leading ‘non-Westminster’ politician through his difficult divorce. Instead of printing hard-hitting stories about the moral duplicity of this very Christian politician, it publishes soft-focus, upbeat articles about his lovely new wife and their joyous life together. The politician goes on to become a leading national figure, but then the tabloid discovers a story of his corruption when he was back in the regions. The politician rings up the tabloid editor to threaten ‘unpleasant and public consequences’ if they publish. What happens next?

The Leveson inquiry has not really got to grips with this aspect of media practice. Never mind the law or the codes, feel the power. In the past, commentators like John Lloyd felt the press had become too mighty and could make or break politicians and even determine elections. Then during the Blair/Campbell years it was felt the pendulum had swung the opposite way. Perhaps some people could imagine Peter Mandelson making a similar threat to a journalist at the height of his career?

In fact the scenario outlined above is playing out in the real world. In Germany, the President, Christian Wulff, was silly enough to try to intimidate his old chums on Bild. The tabloid ignored the threats and published the story of how Wulff had taken a very large secret loan from the wife of a local businessman. He then lied about it. The scandal now threatens to end the career of the man who is, in effect, Germany’s head of state. In the midst of the Eurozone crisis, this is not good news for Angela Merkel.

But the point is that – without subterfuge or phone-hacking – this German tabloid has turned on its former political ally. As the chief executive of Bild’s publisher, the Springer group, Mathias Döpfner said “whoever takes the elevator up with Bild will also take the elevator down with it”.

It is always difficult to make international comparisons. Is Axel Springer comparable to Rupert Murdoch? As I have written elsewhere, British tabloids are pretty unusual. But the question does spring to mind – could it, or perhaps rather, how would it happen here?

This is a cross-post from the Polis blog.

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Neville Thurlbeck reinforces idea of ‘wilful blindness’ at News International

Neville Thurlbeck, the former News of the World chief reporter who was the intended recipient of the so-called “for Neville” email, has reinforced the accusation of “wilful blindness” levelled against News International executives by MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee.

In a short statement to camera last night (below), Thurlbeck said executives “refused to handle, see, or listen to” his evidence.

Thurlbeck added, impressively, that for the past two years he had been “like a magnet for the iron filings of suspicion”.

Credit to Roy Greenslade, who has already posted the video on his blog using that quote. It really is the stand-out soundbite in Thurlbeck’s short statement.

Similar posts:

Index: Take action to end impunity

November 9th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Politics, Press freedom and ethics

This coming 23 November will be the second anniversary of the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre in the Phillippines, in which 34 journalists were murdered during election related violence in the country.

Last year, on the first anniversary, there was a “global day of action” to commemorate the killings.

This year, the second anniversary will also be the inaugural Day to End Impunity, organised by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange.

Index on Censorship is marking the event by revealing on each of the 23 days of November leading up to it the story of a journalist, writer or free expression advocate who was killed in the line of duty and whose case remains unsolved.

Read the first nine:

1 November: Mohammad Ismail
2 November: José Bladimir Antuna Garcían
3 November: Abdul Razzak Johra
4 November: Laurent Bisset
5 November: Carlos Alberto Guajardo Romero
6 November: Wadallah Sarhan
7 November: Ahmed Hussein al-Maliki
8 November: Francisco Castro Menco
9 November: Dilip Mohapatra

Visit Index’s Take Action to End Impunity site at this link.

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Guardian: Court of protection should be open to media, says leading judge

November 7th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal, Politics, Press freedom and ethics

The processes of England’s most private court should be opened up to public and media scrutiny, the head of the court of protection Sir Nicholas Wall has said in an interview with the Guardian.

The media has recently been granted increased access to the proceedings of the court, which makes decisions in the cases of people deemed vulnerable or unable to make decisions for themselves, but on the rare occasions that the media is granted access judges still decide on a case-by-cases what they can have access to and report on, and at what stages of a case.

Wall told the Guardian:

It seems to me a matter of public interest. The public is, after all, entitled to know what’s going on. Locking up a mentally disabled person is a very serious thing to do and we don’t want people quietly locked up in private.

He added:

The decision about opening up the court is very fraught and people have very strong views. My entirely personal view is that provided we can protect the confidentiality of litigants and their families, there’s not a reason we can’t hear the cases in the presence of the media.

Read the full report on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

Journalism.co.uk court of protection coverage.

Tags: , , ,

Similar posts:

Phone hacking: Follow Les Hinton’s evidence to MPs

Former News International and Dow Jones chief executive Les Hinton is giving evidence to MPs on the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee this afternoon.

You can follow his appearance, which he is making via video link from New York, here on Parliament TV.

Tags: , , ,

Similar posts:

© Mousetrap Media Ltd. Theme: modified version of Statement