Melon Farmers Unrated

UK News

2010: Oct-Dec

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23rd December   

Update: Britain Easily Menaced...

Robin Hood airport jokey tweet to be re-examined in the High Court
Link Here
Full story: Police Twitter Twits...Man charged over terrorism quip on twitter

Paul Chambers, who was convicted of sending a menacing communication after he joked on Twitter that he would blow Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport sky high , has won the right to appeal the decision, Index on Censorship has learned.

It is believed the case will now go before the High Court in spring 2011.

David Allen Green, the solicitor and blogger who has been advising Chambers, welcomed the decision by Doncaster Crown Court:

This provides the High Court with a welcome opportunity to provide guidance on the correct scope of Section 127 of the Communications Act. It will be the first time the High Court will consider what a menacing communication means under this section.


23rd December   

Comment: Chaps vs Women...

Shaun writes to Claire Perry about a new angle she has introduced to the internet blocking debate
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Claire Perry is one the MPs most prominently campaigning for internet censorship.

She has just brought a new dimension to the debate with a tweet that caught the interest of the internet community.

She wrote on twitter:

100% of negative or abusive commentary about opt in system for internet porn is from the chaps. Women 100% positive (so far)

Shaun has emailed her to take issue with the comment:

Dear Ms Perry MP

I am sorry but I have to take issue with statements you have made! On your twitter site you wrote: 100% of negative or abusive commentary about opt in system for internet porn is from the chaps. Women 100% positive (so far)

In fact this isn't true. Please check out the responses on the Daily Mail web site .

For example Cheryl (presumably a girl) replied there:

If you don't want your kid to see porn, then don't leave them with a computer or anything that can access the internet, in their bedrooms or allow internet access on mobile phones. Keep all devices that access the internet in the family area and simply disconnect the modem when you do not want your kids going online.

Also I bet at least 50% of all the internet porn your kids have seen comes not from the friendly home PC, but from their friends houses, their friends mobiles and even their school IT room. - Cheryl86, mansfield uk, 19/12/2010 22:40

But the truth of a statement doesn't seem to be all that important to politicians does it ?

There are other women there who do NOT support your idea. You will find that the MAJORITY of people there, who are traditionally your OWN supporters do not want this.

MS Perry - I voted conservative on the ground we would get increased freedoms after the years of NL nannying which people are SICK TO DEATH of. It seems you folks are going to be even worse, and I won't be voting conservative again unless things change very quickly. Yes there's going to an opt in so you can get the internet uncensored, so you say! The problem is that people simply do *not* trust you. They believe that a slippery slope with mission creep will come to pass and eventually only government approved material will be allowed.

MS Perry in political speak: Censorship of this kind has no place in any kind of free and democratic country.

I have children now in their late teens, who have been online for over TWELVE years. There are ways you can monitor their access and restrict what they do without this. The internet IS NOT a child's playground.

If you persist in running a censored feed you should set it up yourselves (the government I mean) PAY for it, and then offer it to ISPs as an option, to connect through it, for those who want it. That way you cannot blame the ISPS or fine them when it fails, which it surely will.

As for comparison with child abuse filters, already in existence, this is unfair for the following reasons:

1: The number of such sites is very small compared with the number of so called Adult sites

2: The effectiveness of the child abuse filters cannot be tested as to bypass them and download the material would turn you into a criminal. Few would dare risk that I think.

3: Adult censorship systems will be tested to destruction by both sides, those for, and those against. Those who are for, will make sure it works properly and complain when it does not. Those against, will test it, so they can say We told you so and information how to bypass the scheme will be plastered all over the web.

MS Perry, censorship is a necessary evil and should be kept to a minimum in any kind of free country. We are not China or North Korea. Or is that the kind of environment you politicians really want to create for your children ?

It took me a long time to wish New labour was out of power. I think I've got to that position with the current coalition already.

If you think men are against this, it is simply because men tend understand the workings of the internet more, and certainly trust the government LESS when it goes on these kinds of moral crusades. You should not really keep taking a pot shot at men as you do. This is insulting and sexist. Yes we might be more stimulated by explicit images. There is some truth in that. That however is a product of evolution. It does not mean we don't care about keeping our children safe. However I really would like to see more evidence of the harm, before you go on a censorship crusade. I have followed this debate for some years, ever since realised exactly how much censorship was imposed on our media back in the nineties, compared with the much more free countries of Europe.

If you do have a censored feed, it should be one which is requested by PARENTS. I should not have to ask my ISP for my freedom of choice, and perhaps be put on a list of people who have done this. (Another fear of many people, who are against this)

I am not a constituent, but I would be grateful for your reply, and any reassurances you might care to offer.

BTW: I find it APPALLING that a political posturing group such as SaferMedia have been granted charitable status, when I don't think there is anything remotely charitable about their activities. As far as I can tell, they exist simply to try to persuade politcians to impose a narrow-minded Christian agenda on everyone else. I have asked the charities commission to review their decision in light of their political activities.


22nd December   

Update: Ofcom to Investigate X Factor...

Under rule 1.3a: Nutters must be protected from material that is unsuitable for them
Link Here
Full story: UK TV Talent Shows...A talent for whingeing

Ofcom has launched an investigation into the X Factor final after thousands of viewers whinged about sexy performances from Rihanna and Christina Aguilera

Ofcom has received 2,750 complaints with an additional 1,500 being registered directly with ITV.

The TV censor will look at whether the show broke the broadcasting code which seeks to protect children. In particular it will look at rule 1.3 of the broadcasting code: Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

The ITV show aired between 7pm and 9pm and the producers have said that they were confident the performances given by our guest artistes ... were appropriate for the show .


21st December   

Update: One Size Fails All...

Commentators unimpressed by Ed Vaizey's nutter pandering website blocking
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

  Baby Brother's watching YOU

Ed Vaizey doesn't seem to have found many takers for his ideas about website blocking at ISP level. Very few commentators can see any way whatsoever that a single shared blocking scheme can fit the requirements of the whole family.

Perhaps he would be better off suggesting some more advanced networking architectures where multiple users can have individually tailored internet connections depending on their login.

But as for the shared scheme, it deserves nothing but derision.

Phantom on the Melon Farmers Forum asks:

If something like this is set up, who will be doing the filtering? Will the people doing the filtering really be sensible, reasonable people? Or will they be experts headhunted from the BBFC and various moral pressure groups?

Does anyone here think that such a new internet regime would conduct itself fairly and reasonably? Would their be a level playing ground, whereby melonfarmers could have a raunchy pic in an advert on its pages and it would get the same treatment as, say, Amazon? Are people absolutely certain that, the presence of advertisements to adult product sites would not be a wonderful excuse to close down access to sites such as melonfarmers?

People doing the filtering are invariably going to be a collection of the usual suspects.

Any idea of an appeal system will be pretty much a joke, as the whole undertaking will be so bogged down with the sheer scale of the task of finding all adult sites, that it will dedicate virtually no time to appeals.

Aside from that, appeals would be handled from the position of defending the credibility of the organisation. i.e. We must have been right, as we're the experts. Therefore the appeal must be unjustified.

The last thing Britain needs right now is another panel of self important experts on matters decent. Given that this government is supposed to be interested in cutting the number of quangos their desire to create yet another one, strains credulity.

More busy bodies with clip boards. More self appointed moral guardians. More high handed injustice in the name of protecting us all.

And a good point from the Guardian

Those are all great reasons not to waste untold millions of pounds either creating a government great firewall , or requiring ISPs to do the same. But here's the most important reason of all: it won't work.

Any think-of-the-children internet filter has a fundamental problem: if it's effective enough to actually block adult content, it will also be irritating enough that almost everyone will turn it off.

An effective filter would have to censor Flickr, which has a large amount of adult imagery. It has to censor every blogging platform: Tumblr, for example, has a whole swathe of porn blogs, and there are untold numbers of sex bloggers writing reams of explicit text. And it has to censor YouTube, particularly if 4chan decide to flood it with porn again. Facebook could probably be let through, thanks to its strong filtering policies – although right now, most mobile providers block it for under-18s anyway.

If an adult content filter allows those sites through, it fails. And if it blocks those sites, then hardly anyone will use it – and it fails.

And of course practical and monetary concerns from the ISP industry

See  article from

In response to the government proposal, Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Ispa industry body, said:

Ispa firmly believes that controls on children's access to the internet should be managed by parents and carers with the tools ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down.

ISPs currently block child abuse content which is illegal and widely regarded as abhorrent. Blocking lawful pornography content is less clear cut, will lead to the blocking of access to legitimate content and is only effective in preventing inadvertent access.

Trefor Davies, chief technology officer at ISP Timico said:

Unfortunately, It's technically not possible to completely block this stuff

He said the sheer volume of pornographic material online and the number of ways that people access it, via the web, file-sharing networks, news groups, discussion boards and the like, made the job impossible.

While some proponents of a national pornographic filtering scheme cite the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) as an example of how such a scheme might work, Davies said it was not a good guide. Such a system would not work if it was used to deal with millions of porn sites, chat rooms and bulletin boards.

If we take this step it will not take very long to end up with an internet that's a walled garden of sites the governments is happy for you to see.

Shaun on the Melon Farmers Forum notes that even Daily Mail readers don't want it:

And what happens (politically) when censored connections still show porn?

You can bet your last dollar that the censorship will be tested to destruction by the zealots. When it fails (which I am sure it will) who will take the blame for the failure?

Remember, it will be tested to destruction because the material under test isn't illegal to seek out. No one DARE test the effectiveness of the online system of censorship of child porn because to do so, can easily make you a criminal. It isn't the case with adult porn is it?

Most people don't want your censorship Mr Minister. Read the responses in the Daily Mail here:


21st December   

Fair and Balanced and then there's Fox...

The BBC's Mark Thomson and Rupert Murdoch wonder why opinionated news is not allowed
Link Here

According to the Guardian, Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, told an audience at a seminar on impartiality in broadcasting that Murdoch had told him he would like Sky News to go down a polemical 'Fox-style' route - but that the editors of the channel had brushed off his wishes.

The revelation came during a speech where Thompson said he thinks Britain's strict impartiality laws on television and radio are outmoded: Why shouldn't the public be able to see and hear, as well as read, a range of opinionated journalism and then make up their own mind what they think about it? Why not entire polemical channels which have got stronger opinions? I find the argument persuasive.


21st December   

Update: Conflict of Interests...

Police to pay damages for acting unlawfully in arresting a street preacher
Link Here
Full story: Preachers in the UK...Preachers come under censorship duress

   Meek was so 19th century. Updated it reads:
The easily offended will inherit the Earth

Christian street preacher Dale Mcalpine is to receive £7,000 in damages after Cumbrian police admitted wrongful arrest, unlawful imprisonment and a breach of his human rights.

According to the Christian Institute, which funded Mcalpine's legal defence, Cumbrian police have accepted that they acted unlawfully.

Mcalpine was arrested in April by Cumbrian police in Workington after he mentioned that homosexuality was among the sins listed in the Bible. His comments were not made in his main public sermon but in response to a question about homosexuality put to him by a passerby.

He was arrested by PC Craig Hynes for a racially aggravated offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act and, after being detained at the station for more than seven hours, was charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words to cause harassment, alarm or distress . The charges were later dropped.

The arrest sparked fears for freedom of speech for Christians and was also criticised by prominent gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The Christian Institute is appealing to the Government to amend Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which makes it a criminal offense to use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour in a way that could alarm or distress another person. It wants the Government to repeal the word insulting .


20th December   

Update: Opting in to Nutter Ideas...

Government pushes for internet porn blocking by ISPs
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

The UK Government is push for ISPs to block internet pornography unless parents request it.

The biggest broadband providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, are being called to a meeting next month by Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, and will be asked to change how pornography gets into homes.

Instead of using parental controls to stop access to pornography - so-called opting out - the tap will be turned off at source. Adults will then have to opt in.

It follows the success of an operation by most British internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent people inadvertently viewing child porn websites. Ministers want companies to use similar technology to shut out adult pornography from children.

TalkTalk is already introducing a new free service early next year called bright feed, which allows people to control the internet so that all devices are automatically covered without the need to set up individual controls.

Homeowners can either specify which adult sites they want to receive or put a cinema-style classification on their feed to restrict what is received according to age ranges, such as U, 12 or 18.

Vaizey said: This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it's the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children. I'm hoping they will get their acts together so we don't have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.

Claire Perry, the Tory MP for Devizes and a keen lobbyist for more restrictions, said: Unless we show leadership, the internet industry is not going to self-regulate. The minister has said he will get the ISPs together and say, 'Either you clean out your stables or we are going to do it for you'. There is this very uneasy sense for parents of children that we do not have to tolerate this Wild West approach. We are not coming at this from an anti-porn perspective. We just want to make sure our children aren't stumbling across things we don't want them to see.

Previously the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA) has told MPs that such a blanket ban would be expensive and technically difficult to operate.

But Miranda Suit, co-founder of the political 'charity' Safermedia, which held a conference on internet porn at the Commons last month, said: Technically we know it can be done because the ISPs are already removing child porn after the government put pressure on them. In the past, internet porn was regarded as a moral issue or a matter of taste. Now it has become a mental health issue because we now know the damage it is causing. We are seeing perverse sexual behavior among children. Legislation is both justifiable and feasible.


16th December   

Update: A Talent for Sexy...

Miserable politicians and sexualisation 'experts' lay in to sexy performers on X Factor
Link Here
Full story: UK TV Talent Shows...A talent for whingeing

The X Factor nonsense escalated as the Inequalities Minister warned that the raunchy performances should never have been shown to children.

Lynne Featherstone said that the 'sexualised' routines, which have now sparked 3,000 complaints from viewers, were unsuitable for the show's young fans.

Featherstone said X Factor bosses should have made pre-watershed performances by American pop star Christina Aguilera and Bajan singer Rihanna less raunchy

Featherstone said: It was a bit much because so many young kids – seven and eight-year-olds – watch it.

She spoke out last night as pressure grew on the TV censor Ofcom to launch a full-scale probe into the routines as the regulator said it was still assessing complaints.

There have now been 1,500 calls of complaint made to the censor, with a similar number made to ITV. Up to four million children are believed to have watched the show on Saturday.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos, who wrote a Home Office report on the 'sexualisation' of children, accused ITV and show producers of behaving irresponsibly. She said: What is happening is that sex seems to have become the most important thing. Christina Aguilera and Rihanna are very talented singers and yet the whole performance is not about skill, it is about being sexy. Children are being bombarded with the message that being sexy and being sexual is the way to be appreciated or to be validated. This is a terrible message to be sending out. [But being sexy is a skill too. Surely the whole range of talents should be available for people to excel at. Why disallow one? Jealousy maybe?]

A spokesman for the Mothers' Union said: Do you want a society where young people think their worth is defined by sex appeal – because this is what is being normalised. Its president, Reg Bailey, has already been asked to chair an independent Government review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. [Not showing any bias at all then! This is a worthless report before it's even started]

Last night an ITV spokesman said: We are confident that the performances given by our guest artistes on Saturday were appropriate for the show.

"Christians have something unique to contribute to the discussion"...The same old bollox

Based on article from

The Christian Institute has voiced its 'alarm' over the plummeting standards of decency in broadcasting after lewd performances by US pop stars Rihanna and Christina Aguilera.

Simon Calvert, of the Christian Institute, said ITV had made a catastrophically bad error of judgement in allowing the production to go out before the watershed. He expressed concern over the effect of such performances on young people in particular.

Lots of people are concerned and parents are particularly concerned about the effect this kind of thing has on their sons and daughters, he said. Daughters are made to feel that this is a normal way to behave in public and sons are taught to expect women to behave like that. It is very unhealthy.

Calvert said the level of concern expressed over the performances ought to both encourage and challenge to Christians: It shows we are not the only ones to be concerned about the plummeting standards of decency in broadcasting.

Christians have something unique to contribute to the discussion. As Bible believing Christians, we believe in values like dignity and virtues like modesty and we ought to be more courageous in advancing these values and virtues, whether it's with the neighbour over the garden fence or from our pulpit.


14th December   

Update: That Nutter X Factor...

Sexy music performances too much for Mediawatch-UK
Link Here
Full story: UK TV Talent Shows...A talent for whingeing

ITV faces a backlash after thousands of viewers protested about lewd performances on the X Factor final.

Critics called on TV censor Ofcom to launch an inquiry into why disgusting routines were shown before the watershed.

They challenged whether the performances by U.S. pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna broke Ofcom's broadcasting rules.

'Horrified' parents also accused ITV of breaking the bond of trust with viewers by failing to tone down the performances for younger fans.

By last night ITV had received about 1,000 complaints about the routines with Ofcom understood to have received a further 1,000-plus.

During her Saturday night performance of What's My Name , Rihanna shed her gown and cavorted around the stage in underwear, performing a series of suggestive dance moves.

She was surrounded by an army of dancers who performed in a similar way. This was then followed by Aguilera's performance which saw her in an extremely low-cut black dress writhing around the stage with her troupe of scantily-clad dancers.

The TV pressure group Mediawatch UK said it too had received complaints from the public about Saturday night's final. Director Vivienne Pattison said: I don't think it was suitable for a pre-watershed broadcast, I think that's quite clear.

It was the simulated sexual stuff, that was the problem. I think Ofcom should look into this. Whether the X Factor like it or not they are commanding audiences of more than 19million. They are role models whether they like it or not.

She added: We have a broadcasting code that expects certain things to be post-watershed and I think that one crossed the line.

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, who appeared on this year's Strictly Come Dancing, said: It is before the watershed so parents are entitled to some consideration from the TV bosses. I think it is a pity. It isn't necessary and it should be a family show. If you are going to that sort of thing they should put it on after the watershed and it ceases to be a family show. I think Ofcom should take it seriously. What is the point of having a watershed? I think Strictly by comparison is serious family fun.

Not so Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster said: One of the routines was particularly inappropriate and it may lead a number of parents to consider whether or not next year's show is something that their younger children watch. It was unnecessary and I think they should have toned it down. I just think it went a step too far.

A spokesman for the programme maker Talkback Thames said: We are confident that the performances given by our guest artistes on Saturday were appropriate for the show.

An ITV insider said what was aired on the show was no worse than much of what goes out on dedicated music TV channels during the day.

It was also claimed that Aguilera's routine, based on her movie Burlesque , had been toned down from what was in the film, which has a rating of 12A. The source pointed out that there was no swearing or nudity in the routine.


12th December

 Offsite: Censorship Interchanged with Political Correctness...

Link Here
Art has no chance against politically correct nutters armed with masking tape

See article from


12th December   

Update: Police Arrest First and Don't Even Ask Questions Later...

Police to pay damages for automatically arresting anti-gay preacher without making inquiries first
Link Here
Full story: Preachers in the UK...Preachers come under censorship duress

A street preacher has been awarded more than £4,000 in damages after a judge ruled it was wrong for police to arrest and handcuff him for speaking out against homosexuality.

Anthony Rollins was preaching in Birmingham city center in June 2008 when a member of the public, John Edwards, took offense at comments he made describing homosexual conduct as morally wrong.

According to the Christian Institute, which backed Rollins' case, police arrived on the scene after receiving a call from Edwards and PC Adrian Bill proceeded to handcuff Rollins without any further inquiry.

Birmingham County Court ruled that PC Bill had committed assault and battery against Rollins by handcuffing him unnecessarily. Judge Lance Ashworth QC said in his ruling that the arrest demonstrated a lack of thoughtfulness. He ruled that hehad made the arrest as a matter of routine without any thought being given to Rollins' Convention Rights , which pertain to free speech and religious liberty.

After his arrest, Rollins was taken by PC Bill to the station where he was held for three hours but never questioned for his account of events. He was charged with breaching Section 5 of the Public Order Act but the charges were dropped before the case came to trial.

Rollins decided to sue West Midlands Police after a complaint he made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about his treatment was rejected.


9th December

 Offsite: A Bit Nanny State?...

Link Here
An interview with BBFC Senior Examiner Craig Lapper

See article from


5th December   

Update: Grow Up Will You!...

David Cameron found to be suffering from premature sexualisation
Link Here
Full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

The Sunday Telegraph has learned a government-commissioned review, expected to be led by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers' Union, will lay the ground for new laws which could see individual companies persecuted.

Bailey's review will gather evidence of ways children are having unfair commercial pressure put on them or being prematurely sexualised by retailers amid protests over high-heeled shoes and provocative underwear aimed at girls as young as 10.

Ministers at the Department for Education intend to legislate or regulate against the supposed offenders, many of whom have already sparked nutter criticism from parents.

Coalition sources said the planned new laws could see businesses targeted individually, while it was likely a new industry-wide standard would be established. Parents, furthermore, could be given the power to challenge offending advertisements or products specifically over child-related issues. Sources drew a parallel with the way complaints are currently made to trading standards officials or the Advertising Standards Authority.

The move is backed by David Cameron, who hit out at the premature sexualisation of children in one of his first major interventions as Conservative leader, more than four years ago.

Reg Bailey, a father of two and committed Christian who is the first male chief executive of the Mothers' Union – the international Christian charity that seeks to support families.


2nd December   

Update: Hones Comment...

'Fair Comment' law examined in the UK Supreme Court
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

This appeal required the Supreme Court to consider the defence of fair comment in defamation proceedings, in particular the extent to which the factual background giving rise to the comment had to be referred to with the comment itself and be accurately stated.

The respondents are members of a musical group known as The Gillettes or Saturday Night at the Movies.

The appellants provide entertainment booking services.

The Gillettes appointed the booking agency to promote their acts, entering into a contract which included a re-engagement clause, under which any further bookings at the same venue in the following 12 months had to be made through the appellants.

The booking agency arranged a booking for the Gillettes at Bibis restaurant in Leeds. The Gillettes agreed to perform again at Bibis three weeks later without reference to the agency.

The agency emailed the band to complain of the breach of the re-engagement clause. A band member replied, contending that the contract was mearly (sic) a formality and holds no water in legal terms and that the other Gillettes were not bound by the re-engagement clause as they had not signed the contract.

The booking agency thereafter posted a notice on their website announcing that they were no longer representing the Gillettes as they were not professional enough to feature in our portfolio and have not been able to abide by the terms of their contract and that following a breach of contract Craig Joseph who runs The Gillettes and Saturday Night at the Movies has advised 1311 Events that the terms and conditions of "contracts hold no water in legal terms". For this reason it may follow that the artists obligations for your booking may also not be met….'

The Gillettes issued proceedings for libel, alleging that the posting meant that they were unprofessional and unlikely to honour any bookings made for them to perform.

The booking agency relied principally on the defences of justification and fair comment. Both were struck out in the High Court. The Court of Appeal reinstated the defence of justification but upheld the striking out of fair comment.


The Supreme Court unanimously allows the appeal and holds that the defence of fair comment should be open to the agency.

A 'fair comment' must indicate in general terms the facts on which the comment is based, so that the reader was in a position to judge for himself how far the comment was well founded

However this defence had originated in respect of comments about work products such as books and plays, which necessarily identified the product. It had been complicated by developments which extended the defence to cover the conduct of individuals, where this was of public interest.

Today many people take advantage of the internet to make public comments and the defence would be robbed of much of its efficacy if readers had to be given detailed information to enable evaluation of the comment.

The Supreme Court agreed that there was a case for reform of a number of aspects of the defence of fair comment which did not arise directly in this case.

The whole area merited consideration by the Law Commission or an expert committee. The only more general reform being made by this judgment was the re-naming of the defence from fair comment to honest comment .

Applying the law to the facts of this case, the posting by the booking agency referred to the breach of contract relating to the Bibis restaurant, and to the Gillettes' email, and these facts could be relied on. The email arguably evidenced a contemptuous approach to the Gillettes' contractual obligations to the agency. The email as quoted arguably evidenced a contemptuous attitude to contracts in general.

It would be a matter for the jury to decide whether the inaccuracy in the quotation made a significant difference.

The defence should therefore be reinstated.


28th November   

Update: Media On Notice...

Government prepares for Wikileaks revealing of diplomatic communications
Link Here

Governments, organisations and media across the world have been put on alert as whistleblowing site Wikileaks looks set to release millions of diplomatic communications.

As Wikileaks prepares to expose a huge cache of classified diplomatic communications, the US has warned allies that new revelations may lead to public embarrassment. The cables are expected to expose sensitive foreign policy issues including corruption allegations against foreign governments and leaders, and clandestine US support for terrorism.

In what appears to be a harm minimisation strategy the US government has embarked on an impressive briefing campaign, reaching out to allies across the world.

In its efforts to manage the release and ensure its views are represented in the ensuing debate, the US has been vocal. In an email the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs to the Senate and House Armed Services Committee Elizabeth King said: State Department cables by their nature contain everyday analysis and candid assessments that any government engages in as part of effective foreign relations…. The publication of this classified information by WikiLeaks is an irresponsible attempt to wreak havoc … It potentially jeopardizes lives.

As news breaks that the UK government has issued a DA notice, effectively asking to be briefed by newspaper editors before any new revelations are published it worth noting that there is no obligation on media to comply. DA-notices point to a set of guidelines, agreed by the government departments and the media. In this case newspaper editors would speak to Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee prior to publication.

Guido Fawkes

The Guido Fawkes' Blog has now published the DA Notice letter . He also wonders if he is the first blogger to have received such a letter.

Hopefully the DA Notice issues will be restricted to genuine security concerns and won't be extended to hide mere embarrassment of officials etc.


27th November

 Offsite: Whatever happened to freedom of speech?...

Link Here
Very Daily Mailish but worth a read

See article from


26th November   

Update: In the Domain of Censors...

Nominet to block UK internet domains on police request
Link Here
Full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

  Police will effectively get more powers to censor websites under proposals being developed by Nominet, the company that controls the .uk domain registry.

Following lobbying by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Nominet wants to change the terms and conditions under which domain names are owned so that it can revoke them more easily in response to requests from law enforcement agencies.

The changes will mean that if Nominet is given reasonable grounds to believe [domains] are being used to commit a crime it will remove them from the .uk registry.

Nominet said: There are increasing expectations from Law Enforcement Agencies that Nominet and its members will respond quickly to reasonable requests to suspend domain names being used in association with criminal activity and Nominet has been working with them in response to formal requests.

At present, there is no specific obligation under Nominet's terms and conditions for owners to ensure their domain names are not used for crime.

Despite this, last December, at the request of the Met's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), Nominet revoked the domain names of 1,200 websites it said were being used to sell counterfeit designer goods. For legal cover, it claimed the owners breached their contracts by supplying registars with incorrect details.

Plans for more such action, which was taken without any court oversight, are likely to raise concerns over the potential for increased censorship online.

Last week, for example, the PCeU contacted the ISP hosting Fitwatch, a website the Met alleged was offering supposedly illegal advice to student protestors, and had it taken down. Mirror sites and copies of the information it carried quickly sprang up across dozens of hosts, making the attempted censorship ineffective. By working through Nominet, however, it would be much easier for police to centrally block such efforts by revoking the domain name of any website republishing the allegedly illegal information.

Apparently aware of such concerns, Nominet said it will consider creating an appeals process, and that it will only act if the incident was urgent or the registrar failed to comply [with a police request to revoke a domain name] .


26th November   

Update: New Blasphemy...

British police arrest 15 year old girl for Koran burning
Link Here
Full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

A 15-year-old girl has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred after allegedly burning an English-language version of the Qur'an – and then posting video footage of the act on Facebook.

The teenager, from the Sandwell district of Birmingham, was filmed on her school premises burning the book. Police have confirmed the incident was reported to the school and the video has since been removed.

It is believed the girl was allegedly filmed setting the book alight while other pupils looked on. Two Facebook profiles have also been removed from the site.

It is understood that the group who published the version of the Qur'an that was set alight has visited the school to 'talk' to pupils.

Speaking about the latest incident in Birmingham, a spokesperson for West Midlands police said: A 15-year-old girl was arrested on Friday 19 November on suspicion of inciting religious hatred. She has been bailed pending further enquiries.


24th November   

Obituary: Countess Dracula...

Ingrid Pitt dies aged 73
Link Here

Hammer horror actress Ingrid Pitt, best known for starring in cult classics such as Countess Dracula, has died at the age of 73.

The Polish-born star passed away at a hospital in south London after collapsing a few days ago.

She was regarded by many fans as the queen of Hammer Horror films.

The star's death comes weeks after film-maker Roy Ward Baker, who directed Pitt in The Vampire Lovers , died at the age of 93.

Pitt's daughter Stephanie Blake told the BBC News website that her mother's death had come as a huge surprise . After the actress collapsed recently, doctors had told her was she suffering from heart failure. She could be incredibly generous, loving, and she'll be sorely missed, Mrs Blake said.

She added that she wanted her mother to be remembered as the Countess Dracula with the wonderful teeth and the wonderful bosom .

She began her career with fairly minor roles in several Spanish films in the mid-1960s. But in 1968 she landed a supporting role in war movie Where Eagles Dare , appearing alongside Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton. The actress got her breakthrough role two years later in the horror thriller The Vampire Lovers , which was a box office success.

Several Hammer movies followed, firmly establishing her as one of the key women of British horror of the 1970s. Her other film credits included The Wicker Man (1973), Who Dares Wins (1982), Smiley's People (1982) and Wild Geese II (1985).


24th November   

I am no Mary Whitehouse Figure...BUT...

Parliamentary prudes make themselves known in first Internet Pornography debate
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

H ouse of Commons Adjournment Debate
23rd November 2010

Culture minister Ed Vaizey, said the Government was in favour of a lightly-regulated internet. Those who posted illegal material would be prosecuted but ministers wanted to work with ISPs on any changes.

He said: The internet is by and large a force for good, it is central to our lives and to our economy and Government has to be wary before it regulates and passes legislation.

But leading the debate, Claire Perry had a long speech including a nod to yesterdays Safermedia conference and a classic I'm no prude...BUT...

Claire Perry (Devizes, Conservative)

I am grateful for the opportunity to debate this matter tonight. I thank Members on both sides of the House who have either made time to attend the debate or expressed support for my proposal since it was announced yesterday. I am asking for a change in regulation that would require all UK-based internet service providers to restrict universal access to pornographic material by implementing a simple opt-in system based on age verification.


Statistics are simply red-lining a problem that every parent recognises-namely, that our children are viewing material that we would never want them to see, especially at such a young age. So what can we do about it? The current way of controlling access to pornographic material on the internet is via safety settings and filtering software, installed and maintained by users-parents, teachers and carers across the country. Unfortunately, however, through technological ignorance, time pressure or inertia or for myriad other reasons, this filtering solution is not working. Even among parents who are regular internet users, only 15% say that they know how to install a filter. It is unfortunately also the case that our children know better than we do how to circumvent the filters, while the constant changes in internet technology and content mean that they can quickly become outdated.

I would like to raise two key issues about the current, unsatisfactory situation. The first, as Fiona Mactaggart has just pointed out, is that access to pornography has a profound and negative effect on our children. Against the backdrop of a drip-feed of sexualisation that promotes pole dancing as healthy exercise for young girls and high-heeled shoes as appropriate footwear for six-month-old babies, the availability of soft-core and hard-core pornography in our homes is damaging our children.

Yesterday I attended a Safer Media conference sponsored by my hon. Friend Mr Burrowes, and heard compelling evidence of this damage, including the explosion in the number of children in this country being referred to addiction clinics with a pornography problem , and that fact that many studies demonstrate that watching internet pornography contributes to people seeing women as sex objects, increases sexual risk-taking such as having unprotected or anal sex, and relaxes the boundaries of sexual violence in a completely unacceptable way.


The second problem in the current system of internet provision is the presumption that it is entirely the consumer's responsibility to safeguard their family from harmful imagery. I am a fervent supporter of personal responsibility and have an innate dislike of Big Brother regulation, but there is a form of content delivery in this country that, in contrast to the internet, is either regulated by the Government or has a successful self-regulation model that does not appear draconian or heavy-handed. Our television viewing is restricted by sensible Ofcom guidelines, including section 1, which says that material equivalent to the British Board of Film Classification's R18 rating must not be broadcast at any time, and that adult sex material cannot be broadcast at any time other than between 22.00 and 05.30 hours on premium subscription services or on pay-per-view or night services, which have to have mandatory restricted access, including PIN verification systems. We all accept such regulation of our television viewing quite happily.

What we see on our cinema screens is subject to regulation by the British Board of Film Classification, and we have accepted that for years. Our high street hoardings and general advertising are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority, which displayed its teeth recently by removing posters from the Westfield shopping centre. Government guidelines inform newsagents' displays of lad magazines and porn magazines. Even the mobile phone industry, which has arguably seen even more change than the internet in the past 10 years and whose products are increasingly used to access the internet, has introduced a reasonably successful self-regulation model that requires an adult verification check before users can access inappropriate material on the internet.

Why should internet service providers be any different from other content providers? Why is the onus on parents, teachers and carers to act as web guides and policemen? Where is the industry responsibility?

Three objections are usually raised when such changes as I am proposing tonight are discussed. The first is that any restriction on access to pornography on the internet is an infringement of free speech. I hope I am no Mary Whitehouse figure, although she was right about many things ,...BUT... the nature of the internet has led to a proliferation of imagery and a discussion of sexual practices which is quite mind-boggling in its awfulness. I will not read out some of the information that was provided at the Safer Media conference yesterday, but I, at the age of 46, was introduced to sexual practices-one or two clicks away-that I have never heard of and simply cannot conceive of having my daughters view. It was simply sickening.


Britain has taken steps towards internet safety before. The industry acted independently and responsibly on child abuse imagery by setting up the Internet Watch Foundation, which finds sites displaying abuse that the industry then works to block. We have led the world in introducing that technology, and the people and organisations involved are to be strongly commended. It has been a huge success: the amount of child sex abuse content reported or found to be hosted in the UK has dropped from 18% to less than 1%; and 95% of our broadband services use that blocking technology. It can be done.

Mr Straw is also to be commended for introducing the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which brought in a ban on the possession of extreme pornographic material. That is highly commendable, but of course the content is there on the internet and available for viewing by us and our children with one or two clicks of a mouse.

All that progress has been made, but regulating internet access to inappropriate content continues to stump successive Governments and, in my view, the industry. I believe the time has come to stop ducking an issue of enormous concern to parents, teachers and carers throughout the country. We are often ridiculed for raising it, barraged with information on why the internet should be treated differently, bamboozled with the problem of international co-operation and told that it is our responsibility and no one else's to keep our children safe,

I beg to differ. It is time for Britain to take a lead on the matter and for the Government, with their commitment to family friendly policies, to act. Without action, and with technological convergence, we will increasingly be able to access internet pornography and all internet content via television, raising the prospect of this damaging and degrading material, which is shocking enough when viewed as thumbnails or on an A4-sized computer screen, being piped into our homes and displayed in high-definition glory on 4-foot-wide television screens.

The arguments for passive acceptance and self-regulation are past their sell-by date, and it is time to regulate the provision of internet services in this country. We already successfully regulate British television channels, cinema screens, high street hoardings and newspaper shelves to stop our children seeing inappropriate images, and mobile phone companies have come together to restrict access to adult material, so why should the internet be any different?

British internet service providers should share the responsibility for keeping our children safe, and there should be an opt-in system that uses age verification for access to such material. I urge the Minister to engage with the internet service providers to set a timeline for those changes and, if they will not act, to move to regulate an industry that is doing so much damage to our children.


23rd November   

Fair Comment...

Ofcom finds a lack of due impartiality in George Galloway's Comment programme
Link Here
Full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

Ofcom has ruled that George Galloway repeatedly breached broadcasting standards on impartiality during a series of Press TV programmes on which he described Israel as a terrorist gangster state and a miscreant, law breaking rogue, war launching, occupying state.

The media watchdog also found that Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn did not show due impartiality when he appeared on the Iranian-backed channel as a guest on Galloway's weekly Comment show.

An initial complaint against the former Respect MP and pro-Palestinian campaigner was made last February following a segment on the death of a Hamas operative in a Dubai hotel.

An Ofcom investigation found that the piece was in breach of standards for inequitably representing alternative viewpoints .

The regulator also found examples of breaches of impartiality in other episodes of Comment in May and June 2010, involving comments which could be interpreted as being pro-Palestinian and highly critical of the actions of the Israeli government and its military forces.

Under Section 5 of the Ofcom code, broadcasters must ensure that on such programmes neither side of the debate is unduly favoured.

However the report said Galloway's show did not adequately provide the Israeli viewpoint on a programme about the flotilla incident. Investigators found that when opposing views were included the material was used only to give the opportunity for the programme to further criticise the Israeli government.

In addition, it was demonstrated that Galloway treated pro-Israel viewer contributions, in a very different way to how he treated the pro-Palestinian perspective: [He] used the alternative opinions made by the viewers, which were contrary to his own, only as vehicles to punctuate what could be classed as a form of ongoing political polemic, delivered by the presenter directly to camera and unchallenged.

Ofcom said it would arrange a meeting for Press TV to discuss its impartiality procedure.


20th November   

Update: Clumsy...

Differing sensitivities to a Transformers toy named Spastic
Link Here
Full story: The R Word...Campaign against the word 'retard'

The launch of a new Transformers character called Spastic has been scrapped after fans vented fury over the name.

The new robot toy was ditched after US maker Hasbro was left stunned by the outcry in Britain over the insulting term.

Bosses of the US toy firm - unaware of how offensive the word is regarded here - were shocked at the anger the name sparked when they proudly revealed the toy on its website.

But the company insisted the toy will go on sale with its original name in the US as planned in January.

Last night Hasbro said: We intended no offence by the use of the name Spastic. It will not be available via traditional retail channels in Europe, including the UK.

The word spastic , regarded as derogatory in Britain, is used to describe people suffering severe forms of cerebral palsy with reduced control of their muscle movements. It is used widely in the US as a casual term for clumsiness or an overexcited person.

In US slang the word spastic is often shortened to spaz - and has been used in TV show Friends and by golfer Tiger Woods, although they were only criticised for using it in Britain.


16th November   

Update: Islam Channel Appeal...

Islam channel to defend its wife beating advice against censure from Ofcom
Link Here

The Islam Channel is planning to appeal against Ofcom's ruling that the satellite TV network breached the regulator's broadcasting code for advocating marital rape and violence against women.

Five programmes were judged in breach of Ofcom's broadcasting code.

Islam Channel was censured for breaching impartiality rules in programmes on the Middle East conflict and for programmes appearing to advocate marital rape, violence against women and describing women who wore perfume outside of the home as prostitutes .

Ofcom launched its investigation into Islam Channel programmes in March, following a report by the Quilliam Foundation thinktank accusing the broadcaster of regularly promoting extremist views and regressive attitudes towards women.

The Islam Channel today said it will request a review of all five Ofcom rulings, claiming it must have been particularly difficult for the TV censor to make an objective judgment about the broadcaster's output given the media frenzy and sensationalist headlines that surrounded the Quilliam report earlier this year.

Ofcom has called in Islam Channel management for a top-level meeting to explain its compliance processes in relation to the broadcasting code.


11th November   

Update: Inciting Violence...

Man arrested for website encouraging attacks on MPs over Iraq war
Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of encouraging muslims to attack MPs.

The individual is thought to be involved with a website that praised the stabbing of the MP Stephen Timms and published a list of other MPs who voted for the war in Iraq, along with details of where to buy a knife.

West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit arrested the man and conducted a search of his home in the Dunstall area of Wolverhampton. Officers seized computer and electronic equipment, police said.

The man was being questioned under section one of the Terrorism Act 2006 on suspicion of encouraging an act of terrorism.

Detective Chief Inspector John Denley said: We are treating the contents and implications of this blog very seriously, and have taken action this morning to progress our investigation.

The website, Revolution Muslim, was hosted in Bellevue, Washington, and was taken down by the Americans at the request of the Home Office.

The website praised Roshonara Choudhry, who tried to stab Timms to death during a constituency surgery in Beckton, East London.

The website said: We ask Allah for her action to inspire Muslims to raise the knife of jihad against those who voted for the countless rapes, murders, pillages, and torture of Muslim civilians as a direct consequence of their vote.

The statement added: If you want to track an MP, you can find out their personal website after typing their name in this website.

A link on the website took the reader to the site of Tesco Direct for a £15 kitchen knife, similar to that used by Choudhry.

The site also featured videos and statements by Awlaki and by former members of al-Muhajiroun, Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri Mohammed.

Update: Charged

21st November 2010. See article from

A man appeared in court charged with soliciting murder and offences under the Terrorism Act in relation to a blog listing MPs it claimed voted for the Iraq war. Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, from Wolverhampton, was arrested last week over the blog, which allegedly called for action against the MPs.

The details appeared on a website that was said to have radicalised a young woman who went on to stab the former minister Stephen Timms during an advice surgery in east London in revenge for the Iraq war. Ahmad appeared handcuffed as he stood between two security officers in the dock at London's City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He was remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey on 29 November.


9th November   

The Islam Channel takes a Caning...

Ofcom unimpressed by wife beating advice
Link Here

The Islam Channel, 18 May 2008
Muslimah Dilemma
The Islam Channel, 12 April 2009
The Islam Channel, 30 October 2009

The Islam Channel is a specialist religious channel that broadcasts on the Sky digital satellite platform and is directed at a largely Muslim audience in the UK. Its output ranges from religious instruction programmes to current affairs and documentary programmes.

In March 2010, the Quilliam Foundation, which describes itself as a “counter-extremism” think-tank, published a report De-programming British Muslims – (the Quilliam Report).

The Quilliam Report was an analysis of the output of a range of the Islam Channel's output over a number of months, looking in particular at various religious and political programmes broadcast in 2008 and 2009.

The Quilliam Report made a number of allegations about compliance of the Islam Channel with the Code. In Ofcom's view, some of these allegations raised potential issues under the Code as regards harm and offence. Ofcom therefore requested recordings of the relevant material relating to a small number of programmes. Having watched the output, Ofcom decided to investigate the three programmes in relation to harm and offence issues .

In these programmes the presenters and their guests all spoke in English.

IslamiQa is a phone-in programme where viewers pose the presenter questions, by telephone, asking for religious-based advice on a range of issues. In this particular programme, we noted a telephone call from a female caller asking:

If your husband is hitting you, do you have the right to hit him back?

As part of his response back to this caller, the presenter, Sheikh Abdul Majid Ali, gave the following advice:

And as far as the hitting is concerned, in Islam we have no right to hit the woman in a way that damages her eye or damages her tooth or damages her face or makes her ugly. Maximum what you can do, you can see the pen over here, in my hand, this kind of a stick can be used just to make her feel that you are not happy with her. That's the only maximum that you can do, just to make her understand. Otherwise your husband has no right to hit you that way and at the same time even if he has done that, may Allah forgive him.

Muslimah Dilemma is a discussion programme considering issues from an Islamic perspective. We noted that in this programme, the issue of sexual relations within marriage was discussed. We noted that during the programme, a guest, Nazreen Nawaz, who was being interviewed, made the following statements:

And really the idea that a woman cannot refuse her husband's [sexual] relations – this is not strange to a Muslim because it is part of maintaining that strong marriage. In fact it is a bit strange, the converse is strange. To refuse relations would harm a marriage.

But it shouldn't be such a big problem where the man feels he has to force himself upon the woman because the understanding should be created within the system through the implementation of all the laws of Islam, that…marriage is about seeking tranquillity, it's about harmony that should be in the mind of the man and the woman alike.

In another edition of IslamiQa the issue of women wearing perfume was discussed. We noted that during this programme, the presenter, Sheikh Abdul Majid Ali, received a telephone call from a female caller asking:

You know when you buy perfume, some have alcohol in it. Is it OK…when you pray while you have the cream on?

As part of his response back to this caller, the presenter gave the following advice:

But, when it comes to the woman using the perfume, then we have to be very, very careful. A woman is allowed to use perfume only for her husband. Woman – if she goes out, from her house – applying – wearing perfume. And even if she goes to the Masjid [mosque] to pray, and her smell of the perfume is smelt by the strangers. Non-Mahram. Opposite sex people. Then she is declared as a prostitute by Rasool Allah [the Prophet Mohammed].

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code, which states: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision: In breach of the code

IslamiQa re wife beating

Ofcom notes that at no point did the presenter clearly state on air that he did not condone or encourage violence towards women under any circumstances – which Islam Channel has informed Ofcom is its formal stance on this issue. Ofcom considered that the presenter did therefore give advice to viewers that it was permissible for a husband to physically punish his wife, even though according to the broadcaster it was to be only in certain circumstances, and undertaken with restraint, Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 169 8 November 2010 14 and even if the language used by the presenter could be perceived by some as relatively mild. In Ofcom.s opinion, the advocacy of any form of violence (however limited), as happened in this particular case, is not acceptable and would be offensive to many in the audience.

Ofcom considered that it was highly likely that any advocacy and support of any form of domestic violence would be offensive. This was particularly the case given that domestic violence is potentially criminal under UK law.9

The programme was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

Muslimah Dilemma re marital rape

We considered that the views expressed in the programme concerning marital relations might have suggested to many in the audience that it would be permissible for a husband to oblige his wife to have sexual relations against her will, whether or not he used some form of threat of violence. This would have had the potential to cause offence.

Further Ofcom considered that this offensive material could not be justified by the context. This was due the lack of any mediating or counteracting views within the programme to Nazreen Nawaz.s opinions on marital relations, and in particular the lack of any unequivocal condemnation of the view that a husband has the right to force a wife to have sexual relations against her will.

Ofcom was of the view that the broadcaster failed to apply generally accepted standards and that the offensive content referred to above could not be justified by the context. Ofcom considered that it was highly likely that any advocacy and support at all of forced sexual relations would be offensive. This was particularly the case given that forced sexual relations within marriage is potentially criminal under UK law.

The programme was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

IslamiQa re perfume

Ofcom remained of the view that the broadcaster failed to apply generally accepted standards and the offensive content referred to above could not be justified by the context. Ofcom considered that it would be likely that the labelling of a woman as a prostitute for the act of the wearing of perfume in various public places would be highly offensive.

Further Ofcom considered that this offensive material could not be justified by the context, because for example: of the lack of any mediating or counteracting views or comments to the presenter's remarks; and the fact that there was the potential for the term prostitute to be considered pejorative abuse rather than a comment grounded in religious teaching, given the lack of what appears to be clear theological backing for the remark from Islamic sacred texts.

We therefore considered that the programme was in breach of Rule 2.3.


5th November   

Update: Private Publications...

Obscenity prosecution re-opened over private online chat
Link Here
Full story: Obscene Private Chat...Extending OPA to private internet chat

The prospect of a dramatic extension of the Obscene Publications Act is once more back on the agenda, as the Crown Prosecution Service last week re-opened a case in which an individual is accused of obscene publishing in respect of a private online chat.

A prosecution was originally brought in May of this year against Gavin Smith whose log of a private online chat he had with another individual was deemed by Kent Police to be obscene.

When the case first came before magistrates, it was discharged on arguments of no case to answer.

The CPS have since received new evidence in this matter and, following a review, have decided to re-charge Smith. There will now be a hearing on 30 November.


30th October   

Internet Censor...

Ed Vaizey proposes mediation service to censor websites on grounds of privacy or 'accuracy'
Link Here

Ed Vaizey, the minister responsible for internet regulation is planning a new mediation service to encourage ISPs and websites to censor material in response to public complaints.

Vaizey said internet users could use the service to ask for material that is inaccurate or infringes their privacy to be removed. It would offer a low cost alternative to court action, he suggested, and be modelled on Nominet's mediation service for domain disputes.

The communications minister said he will soon write to ISPs and major websites including Facebook and Google to discuss the initiative. He conceded that industry is likely to resist any attempt at greater regulation, but he is keen to set up a system of redress for the public: I'm sure that a lot of internet companies would say that is almost impossible, but... one does at least want to make an attempt to give consumers some opportunity to have a dialogue with internet companies on this issue.


27th October   

Dildos at Ofcom...

Ofcom whinge at pre-watershed scene in sex shop on Danish TV reality show
Link Here

Baronessen flytter ind
Kanal 4 Denmark, 1 August 2010, 19:00 (UK) 20:00 (Denmark)

Baronessen flytter ind is a series broadcast on Kanal 4 Denmark, a television channel that operates under an Ofcom licence and transmits to audiences in Denmark.

This is a lifestyle swap programme which features a celebrity Baroness going to live with an ordinary. Danish family.

The wife of the family then spends time in the Baroness. castle. The Baroness for her part aims to change the attitudes of the male members of the family, rethink their approach towards helping out around the family home and improve their overall family life. The husband of the family, Jonny, works in a sex shop. In this episode the Baroness visits him at his place of work and discusses the nature of the business in a bid to understand him and what motivates him.

Ofcom received a complaint from a viewer who objected to the sexual content of the broadcast. Ofcom noted that, during the broadcast, footage from within the sex shop showed adult DVDs, the covers of which showed images of naked and scantily clad women. There was also some discussion about the sex toys on sale and the camera focussed on several dildos. At one point the Duchess removed a large fist shaped dildo from the shelf and asked Jonny: Can you explain this? Jonny answered: Yes it's for both vaginal and anal use, you use it as your hand. Jonny then briefly made a fist and demonstrated a thrusting motion.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.3 ( Children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them )
  • Rule 1.20 ( …Any discussion on, or portrayal of, sexual behaviour must be editorially justified if included before the watershed…and must be appropriately limited ).

SBS The Licensee explained that the channel appeals to a female adult audience and the programme attracts only a small percentage of children. It said that the channel is seen only by a Danish audience, who generally have a more liberal attitude towards sexual matters than UK viewers.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.3 and 1.20

Ofcom's concern in this instance was the time at which this programme was broadcast. We do not believe that the footage from a sex shop featured in this particular programme was suitable for pre-watershed broadcast.

While many of the camera shots within the sex shop did not focus on nudity and the shots of the DVD covers were not especially graphic, we were concerned by the discussion on, and shots of, sex aids set out above.

We accept that this programme was broadcast at 20:00 local time in Denmark. However this is still well before the 21:00 watershed. It was broadcast at a time when we would expect broadcasters to be mindful of the sexual content of programming in order to protect children who may be in the audience.

Ofcom considers that the series is a light-hearted entertainment programme which viewers would not normally expect to feature material of an overtly sexual nature. Ofcom.s view was that the sex aids part of the interview was unnecessarily detailed and not sufficiently editorially justified.

We do not consider that this content was appropriate for a pre-watershed programme of this kind which is available to a general audience including some children. The programme therefore breached Rules 1.3 and 1.20.


25th October   

Update: Will Libel Lawyers be Allowed on Judgement Day?...

'Holy man' granted right to appeal to resume libel action against journalist
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

At the High Court in London, Lady Justice Smith granted Indian national [who's never visited Britain] 'His Holiness [self proclaimed]' Sant Baba Jeet Singh ji Maharaj the right to appeal in his libel case against British journalist Hardeep Singh. The case will now go before three judges at the Court of Appeal to decide whether it should proceed to a full trial.

Hardeep Singh said: I've been fighting this case for three years already; this adds a minimum of another six months of torment. If I lose, it will cost me over £1 million, let alone my costs so far and a tenth of my life. This feels like the biggest game of poker you can possibly play: all for exercising my right to free expression.

He added: I'm hoping the government take reform of our libel laws seriously and we get a robust bill in the New Year.

Mike Harris from Index on Censorship said: When individuals like Hardeep Singh risk £1m and bankruptcy all for a single newspaper article, it really hits home how important libel reform is. I hope the government backs the Libel Reform campaign's call for wholesale reform of our libel laws so free speech is protected.

Síle Lane from Sense About Science said: Change in the libel laws cannot come soon enough. Singh's case highlights that the laws as they stand are unfair, unduly costly, out of date and against the public interest. Until we have a clear, strong public interest defence against libel actions writers, bloggers, NGOs and journalists will be forced to back down in the face of threats.

The case centres on an article that Hardeep Singh wrote in August 2007 for the Sikh Times, a British newspaper, in which he claimed that Jeet Singh was an accused Cult leader whose teachings were not in line with mainstream Sikh doctrine.

In May 2010 Mr Justice Eady threw the case out with no right to appeal. Eady's judgment held that secular courts should not make a judgment on a religious dispute.

The application for appeal was granted on the limited basis that there are arguable issues in Singh's article that do not tread on the forbidden area of doctrinal dispute.


23rd October   

Still Fettered...

Lady Chatterley trial - 50 years on.
Link Here

Fifty years ago this week, amid extraordinary international publicity, the Old Bailey was the venue for a trial that did more to shape 21st-century Britain than hundreds of politicians put together. The case of the Crown versus Penguin Books opened on Friday, October 21, 1960, when courtroom officials handed copies of perhaps the most notorious novel of the century, D H Lawrence's book Lady Chatterley's Lover, to nine men and three women, and asked them to read it. They were not, however, allowed to take the book out of the jury room. Only if Penguin were acquitted of breaking the Obscene Publications Act would it be legal to distribute it.

What followed, said one eyewitness, was a circus so hilarious, fascinating, tense and satisfying that none who sat through all its six days will ever forget them . But it was a circus that changed Britain forever.

On November 2, after just three hours' deliberation, the jury acquitted Penguin Books of all charges. Almost immediately, the book became a best-seller. In 15 minutes, Foyles sold 300 copies and took orders for 3,000 more. Hatchards sold out in 40 minutes; Selfridges sold 250 copies in half an hour. In one Yorkshire town, a canny butcher sold copies of the book beside his lamb chops.

And yet there was another side to the story, often ignored by the history books. Outside intellectual high society, most ordinary people in 1960 remained deeply conservative, and the Home Office was flooded with letters of protest. In Edinburgh, copies were burned on the streets; in South Wales, women librarians asked permission not to handle it; from Surrey, one anguished woman wrote to the home secretary, explaining that her teenage daughter was at boarding school and she was terrified that day girls there may introduce this filthy book .

Comment: What an exaggerated article

From readers comments by IanBB

What an exaggerated article. The fetters were off . Were they indeed? How then did Britain remain the most censored country in Europe, how then did Britain enact the infamous Video Recordings Act in 1984 that brought in Draconian censorship to stop people watching a few erotic videos and bad foreign horror movies? How then did it take until the year 2000 to partially legalise real pornography- that is, showing the act itself- still under the rigorous control of that arch-quango, the BBFC?

How then did the (Labour) government just last year bring in new censorship laws controlling mere cartoons, the breaking of which laws doesn't just mean a fine or a short prison sentence, but the total ruin of the convicted person via the Sex Offenders Register?

Offsite: The trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover

23rd October 2010. See  article from by Geoffrey Robertson QC

The Old Bailey has, for centuries, provided the ultimate arena for challenging the state. But of all its trials – for murder and mayhem, for treason and sedition – none has had such profound social and political consequences as the trial in 1960 of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover . The verdict was a crucial step towards the freedom of the written word, at least for works of literary merit (works of no literary merit were not safe until the trial of Oz in 1971, and works of demerit had to await the acquittal of Inside Linda Lovelace in 1977). But the Chatterley trial marked the first symbolic moral battle between the humanitarian force of English liberalism and the dead hand of those described by George Orwell as the striped-trousered ones who rule , a battle joined in the 1960s on issues crucial to human rights, including the legalisation of homosexuality and abortion, abolition of the death penalty and of theatre censorship, and reform of the divorce laws. The acquittal of Lady Chatterley was the first sign that victory was achievable, and with the guidance of the book's great defender, Gerald Gardiner QC (Labour lord chancellor 1964–70), victory was, in due course, achieved.


22nd October   

Redundancies at Ofcom...

A few pre-watershed expletives heard at Ofcom
Link Here

Ofcom is to cut 170 jobs, almost one in five of its workforce, and reduce its £143m budget by 28.2% in real terms over the next four years to meet the government's comprehensive spending review costing savings targets.

The media and telecoms regulator will see its budget fall by £30m in nominal terms to £112.7m in 2014/15. Ofcom's staff will be cut by 170, or about 19%, from the current level of about 873 employees.

Ofcom's cuts, announced to staff earlier today, follow a wide-ranging review of the regulator's structure kicked off by chief executive Ed Richards back in July.

These are difficult times for everyone in the public sector and it is right that Ofcom plays its part meeting the challenge facing the public finances, Richards told staff. We also need to re-focus Ofcom in the light of changing markets and technological developments, and of course in respect of the budgetary constraints. This is why we have taken the initiative and today set out detailed proposals for both reducing expenditure and achieving greater strategic focus and organisational effectiveness.


18th October   

Update: Free Speech Issue...

Authorities drop Public Order Act prosecution over graphic abortion pictures on protest placard
Link Here
Full story: Abortion Protests in UK...Public order, censorship and religious arseholes

Two pro-life nutter protesters are celebrating after hearing that they will not be facing a criminal prosecution for a silent vigil outside an abortion clinic.

The two Christian protesters, Andy Stephenson and Katherine Sloane were arrested twice by police in Brighton this summer for standing outside the BPAS clinic in silent protest with a banner showing an early aborted child. The police asked them to take down their banner but on both occasions they were arrested after they refused. Stephenson tried to explain to the police that they had a lawful right to protest. On the second occasion they were held for fourteen hours at Brighton police station and questioned under caution. They have now heard that the threatened criminal prosecution against them had been dropped.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: We are really pleased that common sense has prevailed after pressure was brought to bear. It is not appropriate to silence and to censor those who speak out against abortion. The freedom to engage and provoke public debate on this matter of life and death must continue to be safeguarded.

Ann Furedi, the head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service which runs the Wistons clinic, said she fully supported the right of pro-life activists to demonstrate against abortion clinics .. BUT... Furedi added: There is a distinction between freedom of expression and actions that are designed to distress people who are accessing legal, medical services.


14th October   

Little Reason...

Internet censor justifies 'I Hate Ryanair' domain removal over a tiny income
Link Here

A website set up to criticise Ryanair has been shut down by an internet censor on a technicality about earning the owner a small sum of money.

The founder of – whose strapline was The World's Most Hated Airline – was forced to surrender the web address after the budget carrier complained to the domain name dispute resolution service.

The UK internet domain controller Nominet, ruled that the stinging criticism and passenger horror stories published on the site were not sufficient grounds for it to be scrapped. I Hate Ryanair website ...HOWEVER... it ruled that a small profit made by Robert Tyler from sponsored links on the site meant he abused domain name rules.

Disgruntled passengers' comments have filled the pages of the website since it was set up three years ago by Tyler.

Ryanair complained that the site took unfair advantage of the brand's name and claimed it hosted damaging and defamatory articles including false comments about its safety, maintenance and operating standards.

It featured free links to rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic under the heading Sites we like . From January to May 2010 it also displayed commercial links to third party sites offering travel insurance and foreign currency, which earned Tyler a £322 profit.

Tyler argued that while Ryanair has some goodwill and reputation in legal terms, it has also built up substantial dissatisfaction over its services. It has become synonymous with trying to obtain maximum money from customers using unappealing revenue generating techniques, he added.

Nominet Adjudicator Jane Seager claimed the links to third party websites that earned Tyler money were problematic . [He] only earned money because of the traffic to the website, and such traffic must have been influenced by the domain name.

Tyler had effectively taken unfair advantage of Ryanair's rights in order to gain a financial advantage and therefore should forfeit the domain name, she said.

The website has now found a new home at


13th October   

BBC Just a Politically Correct Joke...

Fear of religion built into new BBC editorial guidelines
Link Here

The BBC has changed its editorial guidelines to ensure that subjects such as religion and science are treated with due impartiality.

The change has come about as a result of a review of the BBC's editorial guidelines by governing body, the BBC Trust.

The 2005 guidelines stated that controversial subjects which must be treated with due impartiality were solely matters of public policy or political/industrial controversy. The new guidelines extend the definition of controversial subjects to include religion, science, culture and ethics.

The trust said: In practice, this means that when BBC content deals with controversy within these subjects, it must be treated with a level of impartiality adequate and appropriate to the content, taking account of the nature of the content and the likely audience expectation.

The BBC has further beefed up its guidelines on religion by stating that any content dealing with matters of religion and likely to cause offence to those with religious views must be editorially justified and must be referred to a senior editorial figure .

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said the new religion rules go to far: Although we are not suggesting that contributors should go out of their way to be needlessly offensive, this is an entirely retrograde step that will put severe restrictions on comedians, documentary makers, satirists and commentators who want to be critical of religion. Almost anything that isn't wholly reverential towards religious beliefs can be perceived as offensive by some believers. The idea that any comment that could be offensive to a religious person must be editorially approved shows that the BBC has become ridiculously timid and fearful of religious controversy.

Other changes include a new guideline on protecting international contributors to the BBC from repercussions in their own countries.

BBC stars will not be allowed to make unduly humiliating or derogatory remarks to entertain audiences under new guidelines published yesterday.

The changes are aimed at protecting people from intrusive, aggressive or derogatory remarks for the purposes of entertainment . The guidelines state: This does not mean preventing comedy or jokes about people in the public eye, but simply that such comments and their tone are proportionate to their target.

Following upheld complaints about BBC coverage of the launch of a U2 album in 2009, and a Radio One Harry Potter Day the same year, the new guidelines now require BBC staff to take account the cumulative effect that repeated mentions of a particular brand or product over a short period may have in providing undue prominence.

The new rules take effect from midnight on Monday, 18 October.


9th October   

Police Dick Heads...

Police quick to act on a nutter complaint that a dick shaped hedge somehow threatens public order
Link Here

  A topiary impression of
police intelligence

A Fenland man's topiary skills landed him with the threat of an £80 on the spot fine by police after a complaint was made about his phallic-shaped hedge.

Ian Ashmeade has been forced to reshape his garden hedge after a an easily offended member of the public complained that it was offensive.

Ashmeade admits the phallic-shaped hedge was a bit naughty, but says it has always been a source of much amusement in the village.

But officers from Cambridgeshire police took a miserable view this week after a member of the public complained and ordered Ashmeade to prune the offending foliage or face an £80 fine for public order.

The hedge has stood proudly for eight years before the complaint this week which prompted police to act.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: Officers received a complaint from a member of the public regarding the shape of a shrub. Officers went round at the weekend and asked the man to change its shape or he would be fined for a public order offence.


9th October   

He Didn't Crack...

Man jailed for refusing to divulge password for encrypted disk drive
Link Here
police threaten guy

  Uncrackable encryption my arse!
Give us your password or
we'll break your legs

A young man has been jailed for 16 weeks after he refused to give police the password to his computer.

Oliver Drage, 19, was arrested in May 2009 by police tackling child sexual exploitation.

Police seized his computer but could not access material on it as it had a 50-character encryption password.

He was formally asked to disclose his password but failed to do so, which is an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, police said.

Officers are still trying to crack the code on the computer to examine its contents.

Det Sgt Neil Fowler, of Lancashire police, said: Drage was previously of good character so the immediate custodial sentence handed down by the judge in this case shows just how seriously the courts take this kind of offence.


7th October   

Death is Not Justice...

Anti-capital punishment exhibition shunted out of sight in Belfast
Link Here

Poster for tomorrow will be in Belfast for 10/10/10, but not in the City Council premises. The exhibition will take place in form of a protest against the City Council decision of taking out 30 posters from the exhibition.

We were open to removing a couple of posters from the exhibition, but instead the council proposed to put 30 posters in a room with controlled access (in their own words) on the 1st floor of the City Hall building. We don't consider this decision to be a fair one: although this isn't strictly censoring the posters, it feels like a politically correct decision to effectively cut the exhibition by a third and remove the said posters to a place where no one can see them (or at least see them with an added degree of difficulty). We haven't accepted this offer nor do we plan to do so.

We'd like to point out that Belfast is the only city in the world in which our exhibition encountered this sort of resistance, out of a list that includes much more problematic cities such as Tbilisi, Marrakech, Beirut and 5 cities in Iran including Tehran.

Reacting to people getting hanged

Based on article from

The organiser of an anti-death penalty exhibition in Belfast said he is cancelling the event because he feels it has been censored. Herve Matine said councillors wanted to split up the exhibition of 100 posters at the city hall - some of which show people who have been hanged.

He said they wanted the more graphic images to be displayed inside with what he called controlled access .  Matine said he was contacted on Tuesday by the city hall and told that councillors wanted 30 of the posters to be displayed inside in a room on the first floor.

The posters were due to go on display for four days on Thursday.

Councillors approved the exhibition in September on the understanding that they had the option of vetoing specific posters if deemed controversial or offensive .

Matine said the exhibition was about highlighting the brutality of a death sentence: I want everyone to react when people in some countries get hanged, that's why we want to have public awareness about this horror.

DUP councillor Brian Kingston said he welcomed the exhibition's withdrawal: The whole purpose of the exhibition is to be as disturbing and provocative as possible and that was never going to be appropriate to take place in a public park in the centre of our city. People use Belfast City Hall grounds every day as a place to rest, relax and meet people.

It is a public park. Even people passing by might have seen these posters and I think it would be very inappropriate and disturbing to have posters like that erected.

The Death Is Not Justice campaign is due to show the exhibition in 100 cities worldwide.


6th October   

Verdict on Trial by Internet...

Jury internet research will not invalidate trials
Link Here

Although trials have been put at risk by jurors using the internet to research cases they're deciding, judges accept it is inevitable

Judges are giving up trying to stop juries using Google, Facebook and Twitter to access potentially false and prejudicial information about defendants, Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, has warned.

High-profile criminal trials, such as that of Baby P, have been put at risk by material posted abroad but widely available online – and Macdonald admits that the consequences can be serious.

But although policing the accuracy of information on the internet is an unmanageable task , Macdonald said, it should not invalidate a trial if jurors are found to have conducted online research while a case is in progress.

This is a serious point and we struggled with it, in criminal justice, for years trying to protect juries from what they might read about a case on the internet, material they weren't supposed to know about while they were trying it, Macdonald said.

In essence, we're finally giving up and just concluding that you have to expect juries to try cases fairly and they're told to do that so I think this is a serious issue around privacy, because policing the internet is really, I think, an unmanageable task.

I don't think juries should be 'allowed' to do online research, he added. But I do think we need to assume this will occasionally happen and that it should not invalidate a trial. We have to expect them to follow directions to try the case on the evidence. Otherwise, jury trial will go.


4th October   

Better in Tune with the Politically Correct...

Motor show models wind up Brighton fringe photographers
Link Here

A photographer has accused Brighton Photo Fringe (BPF) of censoring his exhibition after the organisers asked for three images to be taken down.

Belgium photographer Herman Van den Boom was selected to appear at Brighton Photo Fringe, curated this year by Martin Parr.

Van den Boom's work, Better in Tune , is a photography project about Car-tuning and Car-babes, the photographer says. The underlying idea of the project is that of the world as a desire representation in a mediated society. While the photographer first submitted the work to Parr, it arrived too late to form part of the Biennial. However, claims the photographer, Parr suggested he submits it to the Fringe festival, which accepted the work.

On 30 September, Van den Boom hanged a selection of 10 images. However, according to the photographer, when the Fringe's two directors - Helen Cammock and Woodrow Kernohan – visited the exhibition, they asked the photographer to take down four images, which, they argued, were offending to women, claims Van den Boom. There's no nudity at all. It might be an unflattering photograph, but doesn't that mean that it shouldn't be shown? he tells BJP. These are car-babes. The music is loud. It's not a beautiful world, but the world it's like it. I'm just documenting it. They say it's degrading. They say that these images could offend the public, and contact the landlord of the building and make problems.

Van den Boom's exhibition is expected to open on 02 October and run for two weeks. Currently, only seven images are shown in a different layout as originally intended.

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