UK Liberty

oh well

Posted in party funding by ukliberty on May 29, 2008

Tim Worstall:

Of course Guido has been going on about this all month but nice to see it hitting the mainstream:

“Senior officials in the Labour party, including Gordon Brown, could become personally liable for millions of pounds in debt unless new donors can be found within weeks, the Guardian has learned.”

“The advice from City solicitors Slaughter and May said unequivocally that leading party officials and members of the NEC would be ” jointly and severally” responsible for the party’s debt.”

MPs expenses released on Friday because they adjourn for 11 weeks?

Posted in accountability, politicians on liberty, state-citizen relationship by ukliberty on May 29, 2008

Just a thought.

While I’m on the subject of free speech

Posted in freedom of speech by ukliberty on May 29, 2008

You may recall the issue of Undercover Mosque, a Channel 4 documentary, when West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service agreed to pay Channel 4 £100,000 from our wallets after their employees libelled the programme makers (good summary on Wikipedia) and reported them to Ofcom – despite (or because of?) the CPS itself advising that there was insufficient evidence to charge the makers with any offence.

I wondered after the recent court activity “if anyone will be held accountable”.

Nearly a year after the initial furore, six months after Ofcom uneqivocally rejected the claims about the programme, and two weeks after the settlement, this week’s Private Eye points out that CPS reviewing lawyer Bethan David and West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Anil Patani (Security and Cohesion), two people at the forefront of this ridiculous ‘investigation’, continue to retain their positions.

I continue to wonder if anyone will be held accountable, and I also wonder what the total cost to the public purse was – not just the settlement, but the cost of the investigation and whether any complaints from the public kicked it off, or whether it was a public servant who thought it would be a good idea.

The thorny problem of what speech to ban

Posted in freedom of speech by ukliberty on May 29, 2008

Yesterday we learned a number of bloggers are upset about a BNP councillor blogging on My Telegraph.

Today:

Harry’s Place:

The Guardian apparently has no moral objections to propagating the views of far right sectarians, as it actively solicits pieces by Muslim Brotherhood supporters such as Faisal Bodi, Anas Altikriti, Ismail Patel and Soumaya Ghannoushi. They even publish, on a regular basis, work by Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas’ “Special Envoy“ and wannabe suicide bomber.

Sunny responds:

This rather silly. Most of them might be conservative right-wingers, and Faisal Bodi a complete idiot, but comparing them to the BNP is disingenuous. They don’t go around spouting racial or religious hatred (Bodi and Azzam Tammimi excluded).

Nevertheless, two out of the five presumably do spout racial or religious hatred, yet the Guardian actively solicits their articles, rather than (as with My Telegraph) passively providing a blogging platform?

But, says Sunny:

The difference is this you see. The BNP don’t have any problems getting their voices heard. The Guardian gives Hamas a platform because it feels that its political voice is being marginalised at a time that it should be heard. If you want to make peace with the enemy, you have to hear what it has to say. The BNP work in a different paradigm.

Hmm… I’m not sure why racists and terrorists should be actively given a voice by a newspaper, in the sense of them giving them a platform. I’m not bothered about BNP or Hamas using a blogging platform provided to all and sundry by a newspaper but I am concerned (although not greatly!) about newspapers actively soliciting their views.

On the whole though, I don’t think merely offensive content should be pulled or forbidden from being solicited – illegal, yes (in general) but not offensive.

Well, whether or not you agree with such views you can see here a real world example of a difficulty in practice: a number of sides, each finding another’s content offensive and wishing it to be pulled.

Who gets to decide what content is pulled?

Now we’re getting into a thorny area, aren’t we?

So I’m still with the Telegraph on this:

Our readers are entitled to their opinions and, within the law [and presumably the T&Cs], they’re entitled to publish them on the My Telegraph blogging platform. We believe our readers are intelligent and discerning enough to avoid the content they dislike and report that which offends. That doesn’t mean the Telegraph necessarily endorses their opinions nor promotes them.

and,

when you have an open platform, whether it’s My Telegraph, Comment Is Free, or the internet itself, then you have to accept that a multiplicity of views will be expressed on it and that some of those views will be unpalatable to some people.

And presumably if there is a sound basis for complaint, the offending article will be edited or pulled as per the T&Cs, hopefully after consulting with the author depending on the severity of the offence and urgency of the need to mitigate the problem (eg defamation requires immediate action).

But I can’t help thinking the real issue here is that some people climbed on their high horses to complain about articles more ludicrous than offensive just because they were ‘published’ by the Dreaded Torygraph and written by a member of the Bigoted Nationalist Party.