BNP members list leak gathers pace online – to link or not to link?

Removing the original online posting of the leaked list of members of the British National Party (BNP) has failed to contain the spread of the information online.

The list and reactions to it are being avidly Twittered, as a search for BNP on Twitter search engine Summize shows, while the document has made its way onto Wikileaks.

According to the party’s website, the blog that posted the ‘outdated’ list was removed from Blogger ‘after urgent legal action was instituted by the BNP leadership’.

In a article, BNP leader Nick Griffin has admitted that the party is relying on the Human Rights Act, which it opposes, to help protect its members’ privacy.

Meanwhile reporting on the incident has raised questions of linking, as this blog post from TimesOnline suggests:

“The Times decided not to link to the list, even though we often do link to material without taking that as some kind of endorsement.

“There were various reasons for the decision, most of them expressed in other comments on our various online reports. Firstly, BNP members have as much right to privacy as anyone else. Secondly, last time we checked it was still a free country: there is no law against membership of the BNP.

“The list is out there now, even if a Google search no longer throws it up. The anti-fascist campaigners and phone-prankers are having a field day. We don’t need to help them.”

Blogger Craig McGill adds the following observation on the list’s travels online:

“I see the list has appeared on file sharing outlets? Will social crusaders claim this is a good use for P2P which is normally associated with piracy?”

Similarly a Google Maps mashup has also been created, though, as TechCrunchUK warns, it’s dangerously inaccurate and has the potential to aid vigilantes – while I write the map was taken down because of inaccuracies.

McGill also suggests that this story was broken first by mainstream media, despite being an online story – is this the case? If so, for an online leak, this could be a good sign of ‘traditional’ outlets upping their game when it comes to online news tracking.

Blogger Matt Waldman suggests the story of the leaked list was broken by the Lancaster Unity blog, while posted a report on the leak at 2:31pm (GMT) on Tuesday – also citing the Lancaster Unity post. MSM not quite first past the post then.

Waldman goes on to discuss the potential legal implications of linking to it:

“Links to material that is alleged to be defamatory (e.g. reports about Nadhmi Auchi preserved on Wikileaks) is part of the basis for the objections that the law firm Carter-Ruck have put to the New Statesman that have caused them to take down articles about Nadhmi Auchi by Martin Bright. No determination has yet been made whether that will stick under English Libel Law, but if the New Statesman and their legal advisers are taking it seriously I wouldn’t go the other way at this point. You will be relying on not being sued, which is your call.”

I haven’t linked to it in this post (though it’s easy enough to find with or without the directions given) for the reasons cited by both Wardman and the Times’ blog post.

The UK’s national newspaper websites aren’t linking either, though Mail Online posts both a screengrab of the list and pictures of alleged members and individual articles are being posted about ‘members’, their identies and any action taken by employers.

Debate on the blogs also focuses on how the list can be used – both journalistically and otherwise. The list was posted despite an injunction granted by the High Court in earlier this year banning its publication, so how will journalists (and the police and employers) act on it when it has been obtained in this way?

10 thoughts on “BNP members list leak gathers pace online – to link or not to link?

  1. Pingback: Editors’ Blog: BNP members list leak gathers pace online - to link or not to link? | CyberLaw Blog

  2. Laura Oliver Post author

    Hi – have decided not to publish comments that offer direct links to the list as did not intend this post to link directly to it. (sorry @enigmax)

  3. Adam

    I dont see why the like shouldn’t be posted. If the members are as proud of themselves as they seem in the thousands of blogs they visit ever other week, why hide it in real life?

  4. Pingback: Martin » Blog Archive » Following the Story: BNP

  5. Jason Brown

    For me linking to the BNP members list was a no brainer, just as I would have linked to a list of Labour party members, Tories or LibDems. This information should be in the public domain and I hope that by linking to it I can foster a debate around membership of this political party and its members role in the county. Simply put I would weant to know if my doctor, sisters teachers or the local police officer is a member of a rascist party.

    I did however take the decicion not to link to the original blog post, but instead to the wikileaks entry.

    One last thing I have always stood by the journalism mantra of 2publish and be damed”

  6. pete

    bravo…i think you should name all labour followers as the troops familys can see exactley who is backing labour sending thier babys to fight wars that has no effect on us whatsoever.also i can understand why you would be pleased that our country spends £60m a year to call ourselves “euro” . this is why everything is so highly priced,not this reason alone but many others. so please, hear both sides before you go thinking your almighty and give judging a go.look at yourself,would the country be better off if everyone was like you?

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  8. pete

    doesnt bother me,just shows how violent the other parties are. the bnp are NOT going around beating or killing other party members,or even being rude to them for that matter. they dont promote violence or encourage it in any way. it is the crazed other party members and followers that are wanting to harm or even kill bnp members for thier beliefs. we are not violent towards anyone,im pretty sure there is a word for people that “bully” a minority of havent got to explain yourself to me,better get your story straight for jesus though.if the bnp was majority (which isnt too far away) are you all going to leave the country because its too british? no,your not! but you will once again enjoy our british traditions,to celebrate st georges day,and christmas (the birth of christ,for those who have forgotten).everyone is always complaining the country is overcrowded,little tip….if your not going to join the fight to solve this problem then please juat shut up,smile about it instead if you like,because the people that are trying to sort it are being called time a friend says how crowded the country is,please call them racist and try to ruin thier life as much as you can. thats what our “perfect government” followers are doing to bnp members for believing what they believe.would you cause problems for people that believe we are alone in the universe? or not? this is simply a belief,not a racist or demonic following.

  9. Pingback: Reuters: Former BNP man fined for leaking members list | Editors' Blog

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