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Showing posts from May, 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.

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. "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."

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 t

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.

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. Ho

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 n

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)

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 publi

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)


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

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.

Sky News Today

Someone kindly put the debate on youtube.