UK Liberty

Carter-Ruck = FAIL

Posted in control freakery, politicians on liberty, stupid by ukliberty on October 13, 2009

Streisand Effect FTW.

Law firm and hired bullies Carter-Ruck unwittingly* provoked teh Interwebs when it got a High Court judge to gag the Guardian and other media from,

reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Today’s published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations. …

The Interpipes got wind of this and, unsurprisingly not feeling obliged to abide by the injunction, bloggers, tweeters, diggers, facebookers etc all spread the word.  Keywords relating to the story were in the top five Trending Topics on Twitter this morning and this afternoon.

What a Carter-Ruck up.

And what was the word?

That an MP, Paul Farrelly, one of our elected representatives, had the temerity to table a question in Parliament relating to freedom of speech:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

He tabled another couple of questions too:

60 Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the Court of Appeal judgment in May 2009 in the case of Michael Napier and Irwin Mitchell v Pressdram Limited in respect of press freedom to report proceedings in court.
(292409)

Law report herejudgement here.

62  Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years.

This one about the wider issue of “super-injunctions”. A recent Private Eye article discusses these (can be read online here):

In one recent application for a super-injunction, the QC for the claimants explained to the judge why a newspaper must not only be stopped from publishing its story but also banned from alluding to the gagging order: if it was allowed to report the injunction, it would probably run a piece accusing his clients of trying to muzzle the press.

Which, of course, is precisely what they were doing. The super-injunction was duly granted.

More at Unity’s Ministry of Truth and a podcast with Charon QC and HeadofLegal. The Guardian’s coverage of Trafigura can be found here.  And read this Wikileaks article.

* unintentionally and with no small lack of wit.

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