UK Liberty

Trafigura and Carter-Ruck again

Posted in freedom of speech by ukliberty on December 16, 2009

hat-tip Carl Gardner (and via Iain Dale):

BBC Newsnight’s “Dirty tricks and toxic waste in Ivory Coast”, 15min video, 13 May 2009

Summary

The flash video file presents a BBC Newsnight report on the toxic-waste dumping of commodities giant Trafigura. According to a September 2009 UN report, the dumping drove 108,000 people in the Ivory Coast to seek medical attention.

It has recently been removed from the BBC websites, along with an article on the matter.

Trafigura and their lawyers Carter Ruck had been pursuing an ongoing libel case against the BBC over a news story from on the case that aired in May 2009[1].

In the story “Dirty Tricks and Toxic Waste in the Ivory Coast”, the BBC’s Newsnight programme stated:

“It is the biggest toxic dumping scandal of the 21st century, the type of environmental vandalism that international treaties are supposed to prevent. Now Newsnight can reveal the truth about the waste that was illegally tipped on Ivory Coast’s biggest city, Abidjan”.

The programme alleged that a number of deaths had been caused by the dumping of this toxic waste, which had originated with Trafigura.

Until this week the story was still available on the BBC website.[2]

The link stopped working some time on December 10th or 11th, but at the time of writing the Google cache is still available[3].

Trafigura and Carter Ruck have become notorious for their willingness to use the UK’s repressive media laws to suppress legitimate criticism and comment. A number of other UK media have already been bullied into censoring stories about this case, but until now the BBC had stood firm. Unfortunately it appears that even the UK’s world-renowned public service broadcaster has now been muzzled by a rich corporation seeking to use the law to cover up the truth about its activities.

Minding our language

Posted in freedom of speech, relates to ordinary people by ukliberty on December 7, 2009

John Ozimek at the Register:

In the week that New Labour set out to advance the cause of equality in the UK with a dubious Equality Bill removing a number of existing rights from gay and religious groups, Gumtree demonstrated its solidarity with the cause by rejecting an ad containing the Q-word [queer]. …

In the process, Gumtree may have inadvertently highlighted the knots that society is tying itself in by attempting to pass laws ensuring that no one is ever offended by anyone else again.

Self-identification is unlikely to invoke the full force of the law: nonetheless, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that increasingly, we are living in a world in which language is being policed irrespective of meaning and context. …

Legal advice for online writers and publishers

Posted in freedom of speech, law and order by ukliberty on October 14, 2009

I am not a lawyer.

Prompted by Sunny’s post that asked how important a blog hosting company is in terms of mitigating risk of legal attack I left the following comment (here slightly edited):

Selecting a host and domain registrar outside of England and Wales – particularly if the host or registrar’s country isn’t ‘friendly’ to English law as it pertains here – mitigates the risk of legal attacks from that jurisdiction.

But, while these mitigate the risk of content being technologically ‘taken down’ as a result of legal attack from that jurisdiction, you remain personally exposed to similar risks from writing and/or publishing online as you would be in print – from libel, contempt of court, and intellectual property rights infringement, to criminal offences (e.g. under the Terrorism Act).

There are additional risks associated with online publishing, for example relating to user generated content (e.g. comments on articles). You can mitigate this risk by not pre-moderating or otherwise monitoring comments but you must investigate swiftly if there is a complaint and remove / suspend / redact offending comment if necessary while you investigate.

Merely pointing to offending content elsewhere, in the form of a hyperlink for example, as opposed to publishing it verbatim yourself, also exposes you to risk.

It seems worth noting here that the Terrorism Act allows a maximum of only two days to remove offending content before you commit an offence by not removing it.

Also, in general, if user data is demanded from you, you should demand a court order / proper legal authority before providing it as you otherwise risk breaching the Data Protection Act.

Structuring your finances etc so that it is not worthwhile chasing you is beyond me but my guess is that it’s worthwhile doing if you plan on regularly publishing risky content – as is seeking proper advice on all the above.

I am not a lawyer.

Advice congealed from, among others, Pinsent Masons’ out-law.com and McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists.

This is disturbing

Posted in freedom of speech, law and order, surveillance society by ukliberty on February 16, 2009

Katabasis:

On Monday 9th February this week a friend and work colleague found police at his door at 7am in the morning. They searched through his house, took all of his computer equipment and then arrested him. He was then grilled for several hours before finally being released on bail.

His “crime”? Allegedly he has been arrested under “suspicion of incitement”, or more specifically, “inciting people knowing a crime is going to be committed”. This is under sections 44, 45 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007. The fact of the matter is though, he has done absolutely nothing wrong and is simply being set up as the fall-guy for someone else’s misdeeds. And all of this on the basis of some painful abuse of recent legislation. …

Do read the whole thing.

(Also see SpyBlog.)

Geert Wilders

Posted in freedom of speech, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on February 16, 2009

It seems par for the course that ‘banning’ him has led to more publicity for him, his views and his film, than he otherwise might have achieved in the UK.  

It’s somewhat funny that he came here in November and there was no fuss at all.

It also seems par for the course that a number of people have commented on the film without having seen it.  Keith Vaz, for example, who amply demonstrates in this Newsnight debate that he is an illiberal, self-satisfied idiot.

There are people who are saying we should ban Wilders because he is offensive.  Wrong!  We should only ban him if it is necessary and proportionate.  HeadofLegal sets out why he thinks the ban is unlawful: part one, part two, and a podcast with Charon QC.

No doubt the pending legal action by Wilders will gain him even more publicity.

(I haven’t seen Fitna but then I haven’t commented on it.)