John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Saturday, May 28, 2011
  Guardian Debate piece on injunctions etc
Best to go to the link.
 
Friday, May 27, 2011
  Children under 5 and in and out of care
This is a spreadsheet with the full information for England as to what happened to children Under 5 in terms of destinations in and out of care over the last 15 or so years.
 
Thursday, May 26, 2011
  The Public Domain, YouGov and Ryan Giggs
YouGov performed a survey of people to find out what proportion knew "the secret" before I mentioned it in the House of Commons.

Of the total sample of 2,442 82% were sure they knew, 14% were sure that they didn't know and 4% didn't know whether they knew or not. Of the 82% 3% got the name wrong, but 79% got the name right.

From the perspective of the "Law of Confidentiality" I would argue, therefore, that the name was already in the public domain.

This really highlights the total absurdity of the situation.
 
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
  Collective Twitter Defence Plan
Noting the fact that according to press reports Ryan Giggs's lawyers are still trying to get information from Twitter can I offer to organise a collective defence of twitter users in the English and Welsh jurisdiction. Anyone who receives notification from twitter is welcome to contact me via the parliamentary systems.
 
  "Search and destroy" on Twitter
I have a link to a story about getting data from Twitter.

It remains my view that they will give up trying to prosecute tweeters for contempt, but think how much worse it would be with everyone anonymous and in secret as is happening with Zam.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8536641/Twitter-prepared-to-hand-over-user-data.html

"TWITTER yesterday said it was prepared to hand over information identifying tens of thousands of people who have used the social-networking website to break privacy injunctions."
 
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
  Today's debate
John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Hon. Members will be aware that I have a long-time concern about secrecy in court processes, which was highlighted in the story in The Guardian today. We have no true freedom of speech when people can be jailed for complaining about their problems. This country seems to have a penchant for covering up problems that would be discussed openly in others.

Florence Bellone, a Belgian journalist, recorded an interview with Carol Hughes and Lucille O’Regan in Ireland, which was broadcast on RTBF in Belgium. A copy was placed on YouTube, but access in the UK is now blocked as a result of what YouTube calls a “government request”. What can be so frightening about that interview that people in the UK are not allowed to see it, but it can be broadcast in Belgium?

The policy of international websites varies. The Twitter account containing the names of lots of people subject to super-injunctions is still there, and will remain there for some time, yet newspapers in the UK are not allowed to refer to it by name. It is clear that in the UK people are now recognising the oppressive nature of court secrecy in this country. For instance, I wrote and released a song about this in 2008, the lyrics of which would have been in contempt of court had they not already been spoken in the House. Since then, however, things have got even worse, with the force of money being used to prevent women from complaining about their ex-boyfriends. One woman who received a super-injunction said to me:

“The process is terrifying…For the first 2 months I shook! And I shake now when talking about it to someone”.

Questions have been raised about whether I should have discussed the row between Ryan Giggs and Twitter yesterday. I am not a party to the privacy case. I have not been served with the injunction. I have not actually seen the injunction and cannot guarantee that it actually exists. I have read his name in the Sunday Herald, and on Wikipedia and Twitter. I could obviously stand on a soapbox in Scotland and say what I said in the House of Commons. I believe I could probably say it on Hyde park corner, because it is in the public domain. For me to have abused parliamentary privilege, I would have had to use it in the first instance, but I do not think that the case has been made that it would have been contempt of court outside the House.

I remain concerned, however, that the process of issuing contempt of court proceedings has been kicked off against users of Twitter. Someone should not be able to hide behind anonymity to take action against others. I am completely unsure what the legal position is in respect of naming Giles Coren. I do not think it would be contempt of court to name him outside the House, yet The Times was worried enough yesterday not to identify him—and he is one of its journalists. I will not identify the footballer whom, it is rumoured, would like to see him prosecuted for tweeting.

Adam Afriyie (Windsor) (Con): I fully approve of the hon. Gentleman’s campaign to ensure that injunctions and super-injunctions do not interfere with our constituents’ ability to contact us and speak to us about issues. However, will he explain to the House why he thinks he is judge and jury on whether certain people under court order should be named in this place? Why does he feel he has the right above anybody else? It seems very strange to use privilege in such a way.

John Hemming: I explained that those details were already in the public domain and accessible in Forbes Magazine, the Sunday Herald and many other places, so I do not think it would have been contempt of court outside the House. However, I accept the Speaker’s ruling on this issue.

I refer hon. Members to a story in The Guardian today relating to another injunction. I shall read out the first paragraph:

“A wealthy British financier is seeking to have his sister-in-law secretly jailed in a libel case, in the latest escalation of the controversy over superinjunctions and the internet, the Guardian can disclose.”

What we have here is true secret justice: somebody is being prosecuted in secret; they cannot be identified; and the person prosecuting them cannot be identified. As a rule, the Attorney-General does not prosecute civil cases, which the privacy cases are; one of the parties usually prosecutes.

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) (Lab): That has nothing to do with what the hon. Gentleman did yesterday.

John Hemming: Actually, it has everything to do with what I did yesterday, because Giles Coren was subject to similar contempt proceedings. There is a great danger that a secret form of jurisprudence will develop that aims to jail people in secret and keep their identities out of the public domain for relatively trivial issues.

The law of confidentiality and privacy, as being developed by the courts, seems to be in opposition to the views of Parliament about whistleblowing. That is an important point. A number of the court orders in place act to prevent people from reporting issues, whether to the police, the General Medical Council, coastguards or whomever. The rule of law is undermined by the court orders preventing that information from being given. That is another important issue.

Mr Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): Will my hon. Friend confirm that judges have also issued court orders naming Members of Parliament as people who cannot be spoken to?

John Hemming: Indeed. The issues of freedom of speech are not just about what goes in the newspapers; they are also about who communicates with whom and how tightly controlled things are. Some of the court orders issued prevent people from complaining to friends about what has been done to them; some prevent them from complaining to Members of Parliament; and others prevent them from going to the police with information. A dangerous system is developing. It is wrong to think that there is a difference between the ZAM case reported in The Guardian today and that of Giles Coren, because he could have faced exactly the same process.

John Cryer: What about Giggs?

John Hemming: The point I was making about Giggs was that his name was in the public domain already, so it would not have been contempt of court to name him outside the House. That is quite straightforward, and it does not, therefore, involve the use of privilege.

However, there is an argument about privilege where the legal position is uncertain, as it can be at times. We do not want to be unable to debate things because working out whether we can talk about them is so complex. Privilege is important and it needs to be used responsibly—there is no question about that—but my argument is straightforward. To have abused privilege, I would have to have used the name in the first instance, yet no one has evidenced to me the basis on which it would have been contempt of court for me to say outside the House what I said yesterday in it, and if it was not contempt of court outside, it cannot be an abuse of privilege within—

Nick Boles (Grantham and Stamford) (Con): Why did you not say it outside then?

John Hemming: Because it would not have been reported.

Anyway, the accountability of judicial processes depends not only on there being a public judgment, but on people having the ability externally to challenge the evidence that the courts are using. The problem with secrecy is that this all breaks down. Indeed, the report in The Guardian today about the secret committal of the sister-in-law is an example of exactly that situation, where there is no possibility of checking externally the evidence for whether the assumptions are correct. There are great questions about the reliability of much of the expert evidence provided in the family courts. If we cannot rely on the expert evidence, we will have difficulty relying on the conclusions.

There are many, many problems, and I will obviously be submitting a detailed report to the Joint Committee on the difficulties with the various injunctions. We also have a difficult day today, so I will not use up all my time. The issue of secret jailing is one that we cannot drop. Obviously we cannot do much more about it over the recess, but we cannot allow a process to continue whereby attempts are made to commit more and more people in secret proceedings. This all arises from the objective of protecting relatively trivial secrets, but it is not even close to open justice. The balancing act has completely failed when we are trying to balance somebody’s liberty on one side against something relatively trivial on the other.
 
  That Legal Question of Contempt and Privilege
"If the third party publishes information which is already fully and clearly in the public domain by reason of the acts of others, then the third party's act of publication does not have this effect. It does not have an adverse effect on the administration of justice in the action. The court's purpose in making its interlocutory order has, by then, already been defeated by the acts of others. This is so, whether those acts occurred before or after the court made its order."

So, the question I asked in The House on Monday would not have been in contempt of court if asked outside parliament. The information was in the public domain already. Widely so. I hadn't even seen a copy of the order.
 
  Secret Committal Hearing
The link is to a story about a secret committal for a breach of confidentiality.
 
  You can't jail people for gossip, says MP John Hemming on Ryan Giggs injunction
The link is to Jonathan Walker's article on the Birmingham Post website.

This is a good summary. Most reports had lost track of the fact that enforcement activities had started on two injunctions. On both occasions against people who tweeted on twitter.
 
Monday, May 23, 2011
  Because he was going after ordinary people
Answering questions as to why he named the twitter footballer today, but not before John Hemming said

"When he sued twitter it was clear what he was doing. He was going after the ordinary people who have been gossiping about him on twitter. To prosecute someone for contempt of court is quite a serious step. It comes with an up to two year jail sentance."

"I have spoken to people of ordinary means who have received these injunctions. I have also spoken to people who faced jailing in secret hearings and who were subject to anonymity orders themselves. This is a really oppressive system.

"So on one side you have a footballer upset that people are gossiping about him and on the other side you have ordinary people facing the threats of a two year jail sentance. I think it is wrong that he has the power to do this, but at least if he is going to do this let him be held to account."

"Before he sued twitter there was no public interest in naming him. However, when his lawyers decided to go on a "search and destroy" against the ordinary people who gossip on twitter he had taken a step that should not be done anonymously."

"In Thailand they jail people for criticising the King and people here are up in arms. Here they threaten to jail people for criticising a footballer and the lawyers say I should not name the footballer."

ENDS
 
Saturday, May 21, 2011
  Vicky Haigh saves her baby from the clutches of the social workers
Anyone who likes baby pictures should look at the link. Vicky hasn't sent me a photo to upload yet. However, there is at least one more child that has been saved from the adoption machine.

See the link in The Telegraph.
 
  CTB and Identification
Here is a question. What is the public interest in identifying CTB?

The answer is very clear. Anyone who believes they have a legal right of access to Kelvin Mackenzie's emails should not be anonymous.

Similarly if they are going to hunt down and attempt to imprison people who tweet on twitter they should not do this anonymously.

Personally I believe that trying to get journalists emails is an anti-democratic action.
 
  Suing Twitter and CTB
Well, well, well I didn't think that CTB could be that stupid. 2 million people have seen the Twitter account. Over 116,000 have subscribed to it. Twitter have highlighted it.

Now CTB has decided to sue Twitter to get the account details.

All they can get is the Internet Protocol address unless someone has been stupid enough to use their normal email address.

This could be the address of an internet cafe. All of the computers in parliament on the parliamentary network have the same external IP address.

Hence it is a bit difficult to pin down the person who posted the details even if twitter divvy up the information.

What it has done, however, is to send the information global (apart from in the UK).

Something that very few people are actually bothered about has now got the maximum promotion.

I have said for some time that getting the injunction is often worse than that which it is supposed to conceal.

What it does do, however, is make this particular case sub judice and hence not subject to comment in parliament. I don't think that was the key objective, however.
 
Monday, May 16, 2011
  CTB and Imogen Thomas
The link is to the judgment today in the above case.

Section 12 of the 1998 Human Rights Act can be found here

Where in the judgment can you find reference to 12 (4)

The court must have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression and, where the proceedings relate to material which the respondent claims, or which appears to the court, to be journalistic, literary or artistic material (or to conduct connected with such material), to—

(a)the extent to which—

(i)the material has, or is about to, become available to the public; or

(ii)it is, or would be, in the public interest for the material to be published;

(b)any relevant privacy code.



Here is another injunction that ignores S 12 (4)
 
Sunday, May 15, 2011
  Twitter and jurisdictional issues
Much that the presence of the twitter account that purports to reveal contents of a number of super injunctions was in the news on Monday, the account is still there and now has 113,865 followers.

What we have is a law that is not generally accepted as well as a law that only really benefits wealthy men.

The point about the checks and balances in the system is to ensure that the laws do have general acceptance through the parliamentary systems.

One of the challenges, however, is that when courts sit in secret and make orders that themselves are secret it is difficult to get clarity as to whether the laws do or do not have general acceptance.

Obviously when it comes to the question of privacy it has become quite clear that the current position does not have general acceptance.

My own view is that some of the other things that have been kept secret by court orders are issues that would not have general acceptance. However, that can only be tested by getting those issues into the public domain.

Work on this continues.
 
Thursday, May 12, 2011
  Wikileaks and Secrecy
The link is to David Allen Green's piece on the New Statesman website about Wikileaks and their aggressive approach to staff secrecy.
 
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
  Clause 13 now Section 12 of the Human Rights Bill (now Act)
The link is to the debate in parliament about Clause 13 of the Human Rights Bill on 2nd July 1998.

It does show how far the courts have gone from parliament's intention.
 
  Call for Government to act
John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, if he will instruct legal representatives to intervene on one or more cases in respect of recent judgments in terms of the balance between Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights to take the case to the Supreme Court for a ruling on the interpretation of section 12 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
(55629)
 
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
  MOSLEY v. THE UNITED KINGDOM
The link is to the judgment. The conclusion of the judgment is:
However, the Court has consistently emphasised the need to look beyond the facts of the present case and to consider the broader impact of a pre-notification requirement. The limited scope under Article 10 for restrictions on the freedom of the press to publish material which contributes to debate on matters of general public interest must be borne in mind. Thus, having regard to the chilling effect to which a pre-notification requirement risks giving rise, to the significant doubts as to the effectiveness of any pre-notification requirement and to the wide margin of appreciation in this area, the Court is of the view that Article 8 does not require a legally binding pre-notification requirement. Accordingly, the Court concludes that there has been no violation of Article 8 of the Convention by the absence of such a requirement in domestic law.

It is just not practicable to have a legal requirement to notify people every time you are going to talk about facts relating to them giving sufficient time for them to get an injunction.

There has been a lot of criticism of the European Court of Human Rights, but on this decision I think they got it right.

The proposal in the editors code that people are normally notified for comment is a good one, but the extra step of always requiring notification is a step too far - as the court have agreed.

This was a divisional court of 7 judges who were unanimous.
 
Thursday, May 05, 2011
  Privacy order in Employment Tribunal
The link is to a Daily Mail story that has a privacy order as part of an Employment Tribunal.

A celebrity chef won a privacy order yesterday granting him anonymity over claims he mistreated two employees whom he later sacked at his business empire.

The ruling means that he cannot be named at an employment tribunal later this year brought by the female and male members of his staff.


I will be looking for the judgment for this. Superficially this looks wrong.
 
Monday, May 02, 2011
  SBS in The Daily Mail
The link is another story is about SBS and whether the science is reliable.
 
Sunday, May 01, 2011
  Sky News Today
Someone kindly put the debate on youtube.
 

Click Here for access to higher resolution versions of the photos The license for use allows use of the photos by media as long as they are attributed.

better brent chart

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