Tuesday, October 13, 2009

defence of democracy in Britain

The legal gagging of the Guardian reporting on Parliament is such an outrageous attack on our right of free speech I have written to my MP Kate Hoey, through the They Work for You website:

Dear Kate Hoey,

I was alarmed and concerned to hear that the Guardian is being legally prevented from reporting on MP's Parliamentary questions.

My understanding was that the public's right to know what is happening in Parliament was established in the 18th century by John Wilkes. It is a savage indictment on the state of our democracy today that this public right can be so casually overturned by what appear to be narrow commercial interests (The Guardian is also prevented from identifying them) who have instructed the legal firm of Carter-Ruck.

Is it possible for Parliament to prevent such legal abuses happening in the future? I look forward to hearing your views.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Clarke

From the Minton report on the toxic waste from Trafigura's ship Probo Koala dumped in landfill on the outskirts of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in 2006 (Abidjan's metropolitan population is in excess of 5,000,000 people):

"Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a corrosive gas. It is highly toxic. At low concentrations the gas has a strong unpleasant odour. UK Occupational Health guidelines allow exposure to 5ppm for 8 hours or 10ppm for 15 minutes. Between 20 and 100ppm the ability to smell the gas is lost. Negative health effects, such as eye irritation may be observed as low as 20ppm. Prolonged exposure at these low levels may result in pharyngitis and bronchitis. Between 250 and 500ppm, pulmonary oedema may occur. Above these levels, other effects may occur such as vomiting, breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness and death. A single breath of 1000ppm concentration in air may be sufficient to induce a coma and death"

[UPDATE] Carter-Ruck abandoned their injunction at 13:08 today, in response to the social media firestorm reaction to their attempt to gag the British Parliament (twitter trend map above). The Guardian reports that the gag on them has been lifted. Hopefully, this episode will awaken our MPs to the need to reform libel law in Britain.

1 comment:

Tosin said...

Its great that the Guardian can now report the story. 38 Degrees are currently running a campaign on this. Take action now by emailing your MP and asking them to take a stand to stop this happening again in the future. Take action now, it only takes 2 mins. Go to: