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2011: April-June

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27th June   

Update: Secretive Government...

Rights holders present secret paper to the government proposing website blocking
Link Here

The Open Rights Group has learnt that detailed website blocking proposals have been presented by rights holder groups to Ed Vaizey.

The paper was submitted by the Football Association Premier League; the Publishers Association; BPI (British Recorded Music Industry); the Motion Picture Association; and the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television.

The paper itself has not been published or circulated, despite requests to rights holder groups. The meeting on 15 June, where the paper was presented, was closed to ORG or any other rights group. Consumer Focus did attend, as the official consumer watchdog.

However, it is unclear if Consumer Focus or anyone else is able to show us the proposal. In essence, we have a secret website blocking proposal tabled by rights holders, that may become a self-regulatory , privatised, censorship platform for the UK.

It is unacceptable for trade groups and government to conduct policy in this way. Censorship proposals must be made and discussed in public. Many of us will oppose any censorship that impacts directly and widely on free expression.

UPDATE: Consumer Focus have published a response to the secret paper. This says the core of the proposal is that:

The trade associations are proposing that the Applications Court of the High Court issues permanent injunctions on the basis that a Council and expert body have come to the view that the evidence submitted by copyright owners is valid and the blocking access to the website is appropriate.

Update: Secretive Paper Leaked

27th June 2011. See  article from
See  paper [pdf] from

The paper has now been leaked.

Under the plans copyright owners would identify websites they believe are infringing their copyright and an expert body would then decide whether to recommend that a court issues an injunction banning the site from hosting infringing material, according to the documents.

Internet service providers (ISPs) that sign-up to the code will then block access to the sites, the documents said.

Under the new code rights holders should inform websites that they are taking infringement action against them where possible and website owners should be able to appeal against ISPs blocking access to their sites, the document said.

Details of the proposals were first revealed by blogger James Firth who posted about the secret meeting on his website. Firth said a Government contact had told him Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, had commented on the proposals, saying if it's a voluntary scheme, go and do it . This implies that Government does not need to be involved, Firth said in his blog.


25th June   

Offsite: By Autumn or Else!...

Jeremy Hunt bangs the table to demand internet porn blocking and quick
Link Here

Internet companies are to be forced to shield children internet pornography.

ISPs are to be given until the autumn to develop a website blocking system based on one already used to restrict access to child abuse sites. If not, laws will be introduced to make them comply.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: We are telling people that if they do not co-operate in bringing forward measures that will deal with this issue fast, we will legislate and regulate.

Research suggests that four in every five children aged 14 to 16 admit regularly accessing explicit photographs and footage on their home computers.

Only 3% of pornographic websites require proof-of-age before granting access to sexually explicit material, and two-thirds do not even include any adult-content warnings.

Under the proposed system, pornographic sites will be blocked until an adult user specifically requests access. Another possibility is a movie-type rating system only allowing adult users in the home to view such sites.


24th June   

Updated: Offensive Behaviour...

Police will use crowd surveillance and recording to arrest football fans for offensive speech
Link Here

  Police arrests for
insulting behaviour at a football match

Police armed with spy cameras and recording equipment will capture supposedly bigoted speech at Old Firm games as they enforce a new law that will see sectarian fans jailed for up to five years. Strathclyde Police will use the latest surveillance technology to identify supporters who offend against offensive behaviour laws.

Police will use the information recorded on their equipment to arrest fans after the final whistle, as they enforce a controversial anti-sectarianism law that is to be rushed through Holyrood before the start of next season.

Alex Salmond's government introduced its bill in the Scottish Parliament, and the legislation is expected to be passed before MSPs rise for the summer recess in two weeks.

The bill, which outlaws offensive and threatening behaviour at football matches, and sectarian postings on the internet, was published amid concerns it could be challenged in the courts because it is being forced through too quickly.

The proposed legislation has shied away from producing a list of proscribed songs and chants. The law will instead create two new offences - offensive behaviour and threatening communications . Determining whether a football fan has been offensive will come down to whether the he or she is judged to have indulged in behaviour likely to lead to public disorder. Much will depend on the context of their actions.

Offensive behaviour covers not only football matches but also fans travelling to and from a game and supporters gathering to watch a match on a big screen or at a pub.

Update: Dangerous Songs

22nd June 2011. See  article from

Football fans could be jailed for singing God Save the Queen or Flower of Scotland under the SNP's new law to crack down on sectarianism. Making the sign of the cross or singing Rule Britannia could also be regarded as an offence under certain circumstances once the legislation comes into force next football season.

Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham said that such songs and gestures could be regarded as offensive acts when she was questioned about the SNP's anti-sectarian bill being fast-tracked through parliament with little scrutiny.

She said: A sign of a cross is not in itself offensive, but I suppose in circumstances such as Rangers and Celtic fans meeting each other on a crowded street, it could be construed as something offensive.

Senior figures in the legal fraternity urged the government to adopt a common sense approach to its Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill.

Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont asked the minister if she could envisage the singing of either the National Anthem or Flower of Scotland becoming offensive behaviour within the act? Ms Cunningham replied: The glib answer to that is 'no, of course not'. But the problem is, for a criminal offence, it is all the facts and circumstances that surround that, that may turn them (sic] into problematic.

She added: Perhaps it might have been more appropriate to, say, look at Rule Britannia, which I understand is one (song] frequently used on one side of the terraces. Now, I would not regard (that song] as offensive, but it is exactly why we don't start defining which songs, and listing the songs ... it really is a matter of facts and the circumstances of the case whether something is or is not offensive.

She went on to suggest that Celtic fans making the sign of the cross could also be judged offensive. I have seen hundreds of Celtic fans (behave] in a manner which I can only describe as aggressive - making signs of the cross, gesticulating across an open area to Rangers fans.

Update: Extra Time

24th June 2011. See  article from

Alex Salmond has declared his crackdown on sectarianism will not be made law until the end of the year, less than two hours after the minister in charge of the plans had insisted it needed to be introduced within weeks. The First Minister revealed he had changed his mind on the timing of the bill and would allow further parliamentary scrutiny after Holyrood rises for its summer recess next week.

Afterwards, aides to the First Minister said he had changed his mind following the debate, and had agreed to alter the government's stance in a 20-minute meeting with Cunningham after it had finished.

The scope of the bill has come under scrutiny from MSPs this week, with some claiming the new laws were unnecessary, and amid questions over whether making the sign of the cross or singing God Save the Queen could be deemed an offence.


22nd June   

A Bit of a Card...

Saucy seaside cards reprinted after 56 years on the banned list
Link Here

Saucy seaside postcards which were banned from resorts around the UK more than 50 years ago have gone on sale for the first time since they were censored.

Five of the obscene comic cards by prolific artist Donald McGill can now be bought, 56 years after the designs were destroyed because of their bawdy humour.

McGill designed saucy classics from 1904 until 1962. His images featured fat old ladies, drunken middle-aged men, honeymooning couples and prudish vicars. He produced 12,000 designs over his prolific career and more than 200million of his cards were sold.

But in 1954 he became the target of a morality campaign at seaside resorts across the UK,

An Isle of Wight vicar complained to his local paper and the police raided five seaside shops, confiscating more than 5,000 cards. Other raids took place across the UK and thousands of McGill's cards were ordered to be destroyed under the 1857 Obscene Publications Act.

The following year a show trial was held in Lincoln where the artist, then aged 79, was persuaded to plead guilty on four cards which were immediately banned. McGill and his publishers also agreed not to republish another 17 cards once existing stocks had been sold.

Now a museum in Ryde on the Isle of Wight, which houses the largest collection of McGill's work in the world, has re-printed five of the banned cards for the first time in nearly six decades. Although the ban on McGill's cards has never been revoked, the museum believes it is highly unlikely their publication would be challenged today.


21st June   

Update: Inciting a Final Warning...

Ofcom censures Takbeer TV for abusive comments about Ahmadis
Link Here

Tafheem Al Masyal
Takbeer TV, 17 October 2010 to 26 March 2011

Takbeer TV broadcasts religious and general entertainment content mainly in Urdu (as spoken by South Asian Muslims), and is available on cable and satellite platforms.

Tafheem al Masyal is a religious discussion programme, during which viewers are invited to call in and put their questions on Islamic religious matters, to a presenter and guest presenter in the studio.

Ofcom received 267 complaints about five editions of Tafheem Al Masyal. We noted that complainants were from the Ahmadiyya religious community. This is a comparatively small Islamic movement founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani that grew out of mainstream Islam in the nineteenth century, whose followers believe themselves to be true Muslims. Followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad are known as Ahmadis or Qadianis or Ahmadiyya. Complainants considered that the programmes variously: consisted of abusive content about Ahmadis and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad; or incited hatred and violence towards the Ahmadiyya community.

Ofcom highlighted many examples of abusive comments including:

A presenter: In our last programme, a Qadiani friend had asked some questions. Though these questions were not related to the nonsense spoken by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, his lies, his cunning and deceit, and his false claim to prophet hood, still I would like to answer these questions ;

A presenter: We have been telling about [Mirza Ghulam Ahmad?s] lies in the past but today we will focus specially on these. We will tell you about his lies .

A presenter: As to what is the punishment of apostasy in Ahmadis, we can discuss it with them only if we have a link with them. Among Muslims, the penalty for apostasy is death. An apostate deserves to be killed but the right to implement this penalty is the prerogative of an Islamic government. An individual or a party does not have this prerogative. An Islamic court, Islamic government, a Qazi 6 can implement this penalty or make a decision about it .

Ofcom considered rules of their programme code:

  • 3.1: Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services .
  • 4.2: The religious beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination must not be subject to abusive treatment .

Takbeer TV said that We deeply regret any offence caused to any of our viewers and unreservedly apologise for the same . It also outlined a number of steps it had taken in response to the complaints: relevant channel staff had been severely reprimanded and formally disciplined and given updated training on the Code; additional training was being given to all presenters and producers on the Code and their obligations under it; and the channel had appointed a bi-lingual Quality Controller…who will take responsibility to oversee programme quality and output to prevent any such incidences occurring again .

Takbeer TV added: Tafheem Al Masyal had been discontinued indefinitely since early April 2011 ; the lead presenter of the programme had been suspended and is no longer appearing on our Channel ; and We do not intend to deal with any of the specific issues raised [i.e. relating to the Ahmadiyya community] that have caused controversy in respect of these complaints in any future programmes and have advised our presenters to avoid the same. The broadcaster added that through the various steps it had taken, it was confident that we will not receive any future complaints of this nature .

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 4.2

In considering Rule 3.1 we are required to address the likelihood of the commission of a crime, in this case a hate crime, against an Ahmadi follower. We recognised that overarching tone of almost all of the various comments identified above were clearly critical of the Ahmadiyya community, its beliefs and its founder. However, Ofcom believed that these criticisms, in themselves would not, on a reasonable view, have been likely to: encourage or incite the commission of a crime against any existing or named group (e.g. harm or prejudice against members of the Ahmadiyya community) or an attempt to lead viewers to disorder; or clearly advocate any potentially criminal action.

Notwithstanding the above, we did consider whether the following statement by a presenter during the 29 January programme, could be construed as a form of incitement:

As to what is the punishment of apostasy in Ahmadis, we can discuss it with them only if we have a link with them. Among Muslims, the penalty for apostasy is death. An apostate deserves to be killed but the right to implement this penalty is the prerogative of an Islamic government. An individual or a party does not have this prerogative. An Islamic court, Islamic government, a Qazi can implement this penalty or make a decision about it.

We considered this statement to have been potentially offensive. However, we considered that the speaker in this case made clear his belief that only an Islamic court, Islamic Government or Islamic judge ( Qazi ) would have the ability to determine whether someone was an apostate, and not individuals. He also did not openly say that members of the Ahmadiyya community should be subject to the death penalty, but rather was setting out his view about the potential treatment of apostates by the appropriate Islamic authorities. Given this context, we considered that this particular individual was not advocating that, or inciting, private individuals to kill apostates, but rather was expressing his view that the death penalty could be an appropriate sanction for apostasy to be carried out by the appropriate governmental or judicial institutions.

Given the above, we considered the programmes were not in breach of Rule 3.1 of the Code.

When considering abusive treatment in religious programmes under Rule 4.2, we considered that during the programmes, there were a number of statements made by the presenters and by members of the audience that could be classed as being derogatory and abusive references specifically about the Ahmadiyya community and its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Examples of these references are laid out in the Introduction.

In particular, Ofcom noted that during the programmes, members of the Ahmadiyya community were variously labelled as: stupid ; non-believers ; illiterate ; and accursed liars . We also noted that many statements were made that were highly critical and derogatory of the Ahmadi founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Given the above, it was Ofcom's view that the use of such terms and references when taken together amounted to abusive treatment of the religious views and beliefs of members of the Ahmadiyya community.

Ofcom considers that the broadcaster was clearly and seriously in breach of Rule 4.2.

Ofcom therefore assessed whether to consider the Licensee for a statutory sanction but we decided on balance not to do so. This decision had regard to all the relevant circumstances of this case, but principally the immediate acknowledgement that the complaints were justified and the various measures the Licensee took to further improve compliance. The Licensee is put on notice however that any further breaches of the Code in this area will lead to Ofcom considering a statutory sanction.


19th June   

Update: Pandering to Nutters...

Ofcom to produce more censorial rules for pre-watershed TV
Link Here

Sexy performances on shows such as The X Factor will be outlawed by further restrictions to pre-watershed TV.

The TV censor Ofcom will issue new censorship rule to apply to autumn schedules.

The move follows a Government report on the sexualisation of children and nutter protests.

An Ofcom spokesman said: The guidelines will be there to make sure that broadcasters like ITV don't hover near the boundaries of harmful content to children. This is what happened with Rihanna's performance on the show last year, where the broadcasting code was almost breached.


17th June   

Update: Libel Arbitration...

Government considers the Press Complaints Commission for a first stage arbitration step before libel cases can go to court
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Ken Clarke's Justice Department is considering sending rich and famous claimants to the Press Complaints Commission for arbitration before they are allowed to take their case to court.

Ministers say the system would be cheaper and quicker, and hope it could deter foreigners from flocking to our courts in so-called libel tourism .

At a meeting of a Parliamentary Committee investigating changes to defamation laws, Justice Minister Lord McNally told MPs that he was tempted to make complainants go to the PCC first: I do think that a credible Press Complaints Commission -- one that had general respect and could deliver non-legal fast justice in areas where people complained of press abuse -- is preferable to the law. If complainants want a rapid correction then mediation does offer a cheap and speedy way of addressing that.

Clarke said that the PCC would have to beef itself up to be able to take on the role, and would have to do more to ensure it had the confidence of the public.


17th June   

Update: The People's Court Judgement...

High Court upholds Ofcom's censure of Jon Gaunt's health nazi jibe
Link Here
Full story: Jon Gaunt and Talksport Nazis...Talksport sack radio presenter over Nazi jibe

Jon Gaunt has lost his appeal against a high court ruling that media watchdog Ofcom was justified in upholding complaints about a TalkSport interview in which he called a local councillor a Nazi .

Gaunt appealed after last year losing a high court freedom of expression challenge against Ofcom's ruling that the interview breached its broadcasting code. However, three court of appeal judges have now rejected his appeal against the high court's July 2010 decision.

Lord Neuberger said it was important to observe that the broadcasting code recognised that offensive material or language will often be justifiable, but justifiability must be assessed by reference to the context .

In summary, when one combines the extremely aggressive tone of the interview, the constant interruptions, the insults, the ranting, the consequent lack of any substantive content, and the time which the interview was allowed to run on, it seems to me clear that Ofcom was right to conclude that there had been a breach of ... the code .

It had been suggested that Ofcom attached too much weight and too much offensiveness to the Nazi , health Nazi and ignorant pig insults levied at Stark. But Neuberger said: In my view, however, Ofcom quite correctly took those insults into account, but only as a factor among others which, when taken together, rendered the interview in breach of ... the code.

An Ofcom spokesman said: The court of appeal agreed that the interview had an extremely aggressive tone combined with constant interruptions, was full of insults, ranting, and lacked any substantive content and that it was a breach of generally accepted standards.


15th June   

Doctors on Trial...

Bahrain to sue the Independent over a powerful report by Robert Fisk
Link Here

The government of Bahrain claimed yesterday to have commissioned a UK-based law firm to file a case against The Independent for its reporting on the crackdown on protests in the country.

Nawaf al-Mawada, a representative of the Information Affairs Authority, told Bahrain's state news agency that the action was being taken because The Independent had deliberately published a series of unrealistic and provocative articles targeting Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia .

The supposedly offending article is an opinion piece by Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, in which he criticises the Bahraini government for putting 48 surgeons on trial.


14th June   

Fixing Red Tape...

Government proposes to simplify the range of age restrictions imposed on the retail trade
Link Here

On the roadmap towards our goal
of red tape reduction,
we are introducing a new 15 1/2 rating
as a transitionary step between
the current BBFC 15 rating and
the proposed  simplified 16 rating.

Some age restrictions of the sale of computer games, weapons and films could be lifted under Government plans to simplify regulations for retailers.

Vince Cable will tell a British Retail Consortium audience that reforms to age restricted products would be the first concrete measure to come out of the Government's Red Tape Challenge campaign.

The Business Secretary said that retailers and trading standards officers had complained about the confusing array of different age restrictions, from 12 and 15 for films and computer games to 17 for cross bows and air rifles on top of the more common 16 and 18 age restrictions.

The review could also consider whether restrictions on certain products remain appropriate. Retailers are banned from selling Christmas crackers, party poppers, liquor chocolates, aerosol paints and petrol to minors.

Local authority guidance can create confusion. Surrey County Council, for instance, says the Fireworks (Safety) regulations 1997 require retailers not to sell poppers, caps, cracker snaps, novelty matches, serpents and throw-downs to anyone who you feel or looks under the age of 16 years . However, shops must also display signs stating: It is illegal to sell adult fireworks to anyone under the age of 18 .

A Business Department spokesman said the plans were still being developed, but would tackle the wide range of different age restrictions. It makes compliance difficult and enforcement difficult too, he said. We are looking to simplify these. It is exactly what we had in mind when we launched the challenge. Something that offers consumers the same protections but reduces the compliance burden on business.

The spokesman said one option being considered was to have only two different age restrictions, 16 to 18 for example .


12th June   

Offsite: NOBODY Can Escape Britain's Thought Police...

More bollox abuse of the public order act to persecute someone for minor insult
Link Here

Last July, magistrates in Bristol found Shirley Brown guilty of racially aggravated harassment under the Public Order Act for using threatening, abusive or insulting words, with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress . In March, she lost her appeal against the conviction.

The court case followed a heated city council debate that Shirley, who was then a Liberal Democrat councillor, had with an Asian Conservative opponent. The public row culminated in Shirley calling the other councillor, Jay Jethwa, a coconut .

The word is used as slang to describe someone who is believed to be betraying their ethnic roots by pandering to white opinion -- referring to a coconut being brown on the outside but white on the inside.

It is, without doubt, a crude term that many would find offensive, and one Shirley regrets using. Although she insists the remark was not intended to be taken in the way it was, she now realises it was unacceptable.

But what she still cannot comprehend is the lengths to which the legal system was prepared to go to ensure that she was punished.

...Read the full article


12th June   

Offsite: Serious Affair...

A plumber who revealed his wife's affair investigated by elite serious crime unit
Link Here

A plumber who used the internet to highlight his wife's affair with a director of one of the world's largest financial companies will appear in court on harassment charges. Lawyers believe the case could help define the limits of free expression on the internet.

Ian Puddick was incensed after learning that his wife had conducted a 10-year relationship with her boss, a director of Guy Carpenter, a reinsurance company that advises clients on risk management.

Puddick set up a series of websites, a Twitter account and a blog to draw attention to the affair, alleging that the director, who he named, was pursuing an affair with his wife on the company's time and expenses -- a claim rejected by Guy Carpenter. The company maintains Puddick's actions forced the director to leave his position due to stress.

Puddick's legal team are expected to use the three-day hearing at Westminster magistrates court to examine the actions of the City of London police, which dispatched its serious crime unit to raid his home and office in search of evidence.

Michael Wolkind QC, representing Puddick, said his client intended to defend his actions. This case is about Mr Puddick's right to express his feelings about another person's immorality. Ian Puddick dared to speak out about his wife's affair and it has cost the public £ 1m for the extraordinary investigation carried out by an unusually enthusiastic police alongside an elite security firm.

...Read the full article

Update: Acquitted

18th June 2011.  See  article from

A man has been cleared of harassing his wife's millionaire lover on the internet in a victory for free speech and the small man .

Plumber Ian Puddick tweeted, blogged and posted videos online after being enraged by his wife Leena's 10-year affair with Timothy Haynes, a City director.

As district judge Elizabeth Roscoe dismissed two charges of internet harassment following a three-day trial at Westminster magistrates' court, he said: I am just absolutely relieved.

There seemed little mention of the 'over enthusiastic' police investigation.


11th June   

Carmarthenshire Council Caught Hiding from Public Scrutiny...

Blogger arrested on bollox charges for filming at council meeting
Link Here

A blogger who filmed a meeting of a local council was arrested for supposedly breaching the peace despite insisting that she broke no laws.

Jacqui Thompson, author of the blog Carmarthenshire Planning Problems and More , was using her phone to record a meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council during an angry debate on the closure of a day club for local elderly people.

According to her blog, she was in the public gallery when the row over the day club broke out, and began filming proceedings. She was asked to leave by the council chairman who called the police when she refused. Ten minutes later, four police officers arrived.

Mrs Thompson said:

I tried to argue my point but was then arrested in the Public Gallery for 'breaching the peace'. I was taken outside the door, handcuffed, searched, my phone taken and marched out to the waiting police cars.

I was then taken 30 miles to Llanelli police station where I remained handcuffed for another hour before being 'processed', and put in a cell for another two hours.

Mrs Thompson also claimed that she was threatened with being kept overnight at the station unless she signed an undertaking not to film any more meetings. She said that the council chairman, Councillor Ivor Jackson, told her that filming was against the council's standing orders. However, according to the standing orders, members of the public and press may only be excluded if they are making a disturbance.

David Allen Green, lawyer and legal correspondent of New Statesman, said:

The circumstances of the arrest of Mrs Thompson are concerning. In general terms, it is important that police and local authorities do not use 'breach of the peace' as the basis of arresting at will, especially when there are free expression and public accountability issues at stake. I hope this was not what happened with Mrs Thompson. On what we know, it seems alarming, illiberal and misconceived.

Update: Ordered to pay £25,000 libel damages to council leader

16th March 2013. See  article from

The political blogger who sparked online uproar after being arrested for filming a council hearing has been ordered to pay £25,000 in libel damages to a council's chief executive over what the high court described as an unlawful campaign of harassment, defamation and intimidation .

Jacqui Thompson was ordered to pay the five-figure sum over a series of defamatory internet posts in which she falsely accused Carmarthenshire county council chief executive, Mark James, and other council officers of corruption.

Britain's most senior libel judge, Mr Justice Tugendhat, said in his ruling on Friday:

Mrs Thompson conducted her campaign of harassment as publicly as she could, at first copying her letters and emails to the press and numerous other people and, after she had started her blog, publishing her unfounded allegations to the world at large.


9th June   

Sexualised Violence, Sexualised Children and Fucking Speech Therapy...

BBFC Publishes its Annual Report for 2010
Link Here

Sexual violence, strong language and the sexualisation of children were the three dominant classification issues for the BBFC in 2010. At the same time the BBFC continued to work with the industry to develop voluntary content labelling strategies for online and Video On Demand (VOD) content outside the Board's traditional statutory regulatory role. Announcing the publication of the Annual Report for 2010, David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said:

A number of the BBFC's classification decisions were the subject of public and media debate in 2010. The significant cuts to reduce sexual and sexualised violence in I Spit on Your Grave and A Serbian Film in order to obtain an '18' rating prompted some commentators to suggest that the BBFC had suddenly tightened its policies. In both instances, the decisions were firmly in line with our published classification Guidelines which result from extensive and regular consultation with the public. The '15' and '12A' classifications, given respectively, to two highly praised British films, Made in Dagenham and The King's Speech , also prompted lively debate in the media about the Board's language policies. It is clear that the public still expects us to be vigilant on language issues: the distinction between the two films was that The King's Speech involved an exceptional context, that of speech therapy, for which there was no equivalent in Made in Dagenham.

The third area of debate was the sexualisation of children. As a result of public concern, the Government launched a review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children. The BBFC submitted evidence to the consultation covering how we deal with the sexualisation of children in works submitted for classification. One area where this is of concern is some music videos. Most music videos are exempt from classification, but some distributors do submit them to us on a voluntary best practice basis. The well recognised and trusted BBFC symbols and content information on these works mean that parents can make informed decisions about which material is appropriate for their children. We are working with the home entertainment industry on ways of better informing consumers about the content of such video works.

The fact that our symbols and content advice are well recognised and trusted is proving attractive to companies providing video content in the online and Video On Demand world. The voluntary service set up in partnership with the home entertainment and film industries in 2008, continues to expand and attract new members. In addition we have also launched a voluntary scheme we call Watch and Rate for works not covered by statutory regulation, to be distributed as VOD only. Watch and Rate offers robust child protection online and allows the industry to test the market for a particular product by trialling it online before going to the expense of pressing and distributing DVDs.

We have also begun providing compliance services to companies supplying VOD and other online services. We are able to perform this role because of the unrivalled expertise we have built up over many years fulfilling the statutory responsibilities accorded to us by Government.

Providing detailed information about the content of works we have classified is central to the role of the BBFC now and in the future. Our Consumer Advice and Extended Classification Information (ECI) are available on both our main website and our website specifically for parents. We are looking at ways of bringing that information to even more consumers. One way we are doing that is via the BBFC's free App for iPhones which enables access to ECI wherever you happen to be. This has been very well received and, by popular demand, we will be rolling out an Android version very shortly.

We are looking forward to our centenary year in 2012 which will see us working even closer with industry customers to make classification (whether statutory, voluntary, physical or digital) easier and quicker, while maintaining the same rigorous levels of child protection and provision of information and support to a standard and richness which we believe to be a world-leader.


7th June   

Update: Protecting the Rich and Adulterous...

Government threatens legal action against twitter users who break privacy injunctions
Link Here

People who use Twitter to breach privacy injunctions may face government legal action.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said that individuals could be prosecuted for contempt of court for publishing sensitive material. Enforcement was normally a matter for whoever had taken out a privacy order. But Grieve told the BBC he would take action himself if he thought it necessary to uphold the rule of law.

In an interview with Radio 4's Law in Action programme, the attorney general said that individuals who used Twitter or other internet sites to undermine the rule of law could face the consequences of their actions. He was referring to court powers to fine or even imprison people who deliberately break court rulings.

Grieve explained that enforcement of orders made in civil cases was normally a matter for whoever had taken them out. A claimant could go to court and seek to have people punished if they had broken the terms of an injunction.  But when asked if he should bring contempt proceedings himself for breach of a privacy order, Grieve said he would take action if he thought it necessary.

Law in Action is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 7 June at 1600 BST and Thursday 9 June at 2000 BST, Or via iPlayer or podcast.


6th June   

Update: The World is a Nasty Place...

Reg Bailey publishes his whinge at modern society: Letting Children be Children
Link Here
Rag Bailey has now published his hardly independent review on sexualisation and rather reveals his nutter stance by claiming that the world is a nasty place and that in an ideal world, adult entertainment would be shunned by society. He says:

  We believe that a truly family-friendly society would not need to erect barriers between age groups to shield the young: it would, instead, uphold and reinforce healthy norms for adults and children alike, so that excess is recognised for what it is and there is transparency about its consequences.

Bailey's summary reads:

The Review has encountered two very different approaches towards helping children deal with the pressures to grow up too quickly. The first approach seems to suggest that we can try to keep children wholly innocent and unknowing until they are adults. The world is a nasty place and children should be unsullied by it until they are mature enough to deal with it. This is a view that finds its expression in outrage, for example, that childrenswear departments stock clothes for young children that appear to be merely scaled-down versions of clothes with an adult sexuality, such as padded bras. It depends on an underlying assumption that children can be easily led astray, so that even glimpses of the adult world will hurry them into adulthood. Worse still, this approach argues, what children wear or do or say could make them vulnerable to predators or paedophiles.

The second approach is that we should accept the world for what it is and simply give children the tools to understand it and navigate their way through it better. Unlike the first approach, this is coupled with an assumption that children are not passive receivers of these messages or simple imitators of adults; rather they willingly interact with the commercial and sexualised world and consume what it has to offer. This is a view that says to do anything more than raise the ability of children to understand the commercial and sexual world around them, and especially their view of it through the various media, is to create a moral panic. The argument suggests that we would infantilise adults if we make the world more benign for children, so we should adultify children.

This Review concludes that neither approach, although each is understandable, can be effective on its own. We recognise that the issues raised by the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood are rooted in the character of our wider adult culture and that children need both protection from a range of harms, and knowledge of different kinds, appropriate to their age, understanding and experience. Parents have the primary role here but others have a responsibility to play an active part too, including businesses, the media and their regulators. Above all, however, we believe that a truly family-friendly society would not need to erect barriers between age groups to shield the young: it would, instead, uphold and reinforce healthy norms for adults and children alike, so that excess is recognised for what it is and there is transparency about its consequences. The creation of a truly family-friendly society is the aspiration: in the meantime, we need a different approach.

Reg Bailey's recommendations are:

  1. Ensuring that magazines and newspapers with sexualised images on their covers are not in easy sight of children. Retail associations in the news industry should do more to encourage observance of the voluntary code of practice on the display of magazines and newspapers with sexualised images on their covers. Publishers and distributors should provide such magazines in modesty sleeves, or make modesty boards available, to all outlets they supply and strongly encourage the appropriate display of their publications. Retailers should be open and transparent to show that they welcome and will act on customer feedback regarding magazine displays.
  2. Reducing the amount of on-street advertising containing sexualised imagery in locations where children are likely to see it. The advertising industry should take into account the social responsibility clause of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code when considering placement of advertisements with sexualised imagery near schools, in the same way as they already do for alcohol advertisements. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) should place stronger emphasis on the location of an advertisement, and the number of children likely to be exposed to it, when considering whether an on-street advertisement is compliant with the CAP code.
  3. Ensuring the content of pre-watershed television programming better meets parents' expectations. There are concerns among parents about the content of certain programmes shown before the watershed. The watershed was introduced to protect children, and pre-watershed programming should therefore be developed and regulated with a greater weight towards the attitudes and views of parents, rather than viewers as a whole. In addition, broadcasters should involve parents on an ongoing basis in testing the standards by which family viewing on television is assessed and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) should extend its existing research into the views of parents on the watershed. Broadcasters and Ofcom should report annually on how they have specifically engaged parents over the previous year, what they have learnt and what they are doing differently as a result.
  4. Introducing Age Rating for Music Videos. Government should consult as a matter of priority on whether music videos should continue to be treated differently from other genres, and whether the exemption from the Video Recordings Act 1984 and 2010, which allows them to be sold without a rating or certificate, should be removed. As well as ensuring hard copy sales are only made on an age-appropriate basis, removal of the exemption would assist broadcasters and internet companies in ensuring that the content is made available responsibly.
  5. Making it easier for parents to block adult and age-restricted material from the internet: To provide a consistent level of protection across all media, as a matter of urgency, the internet industry should ensure that customers must make an active choice over what sort of content they want to allow their children to access. To facilitate this, the internet industry must act decisively to develop and introduce effective parental controls, with Government regulation if voluntary action is not forthcoming within a reasonable timescale. In addition, those providing content which is age-restricted, whether by law or company policy, should seek robust means of age verification as well as making it easy for parents to block underage access.
  6. Developing a retail code of good practice on retailing to children. Retailers, alongside their trade associations, should develop and comply with a voluntary code of good practice for all aspects of retailing to children. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) should continue its work in this area as a matter of urgency and encourage non-BRC members to sign up to its code.
  7. Ensuring that the regulation of advertising reflects more closely parents' and children's views. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) should conduct research with parents and children on a regular basis in order to gauge their views on the ASA's approach to regulation and on the ASA's decisions, publishing the results and subsequent action taken in their annual report.
  8. Prohibiting the employment of children as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing. The Committee of Advertising Practice and other advertising and marketing bodies should urgently explore whether, as many parents believe, the advertising self- regulatory codes should prohibit the employment of children under the age of 16 as brand ambassadors or in peer-to-peer marketing – where people are paid, or paid in kind, to promote products, brands or services.
  9. Defining a child as under the age of 16 in all types of advertising regulation. The ASA should conduct research with parents, children and young people to determine whether the ASA should always define a child as a person under the age of 16, in line with the Committee of Advertising Practice and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice codes.
  10. Raising parental awareness of marketing and advertising techniques. Industry and regulators should work together to improve parental awareness of marketing and advertising techniques and of advertising regulation and complaints processes and to promote industry best practice.
  11. Quality assurance for media and commercial literacy resources and education for children. These resources should always include education to help children develop their emotional resilience to the commercial and sexual pressures that today's world places on them. Providers should commission independent evaluation of their provision, not solely measuring take-up but, crucially, to assess its effectiveness. Those bodies with responsibilities for promoting media literacy, including Ofcom and the BBC, should encourage the development of minimum standards guidance for the content of media and commercial literacy education and resources to children.
  12. Ensuring greater transparency in the regulatory framework by creating a single website for regulators. There is a variety of co-, self- and statutory regulators across the media, communications and retail industries. Regulators should work together to create a single website to act as an interface between themselves and parents. This will set out simply and clearly what parents can do if they feel a programme, advertisement, product or service is inappropriate for their children; explain the legislation in simple terms; and provide links to quick and easy complaints forms on regulators' own individual websites. This single website could also provide a way for parents to provide informal feedback and comments, with an option to do so anonymously, which regulators can use as an extra gauge of parental views. Results of regulators' decisions, and their reactions to any informal feedback, should be published regularly on the single site.
  13. Making it easier for parents to express their views to businesses about goods and services. All businesses that market goods or services to children should have a one-click link to their complaints service from their home page, clearly labelled complaints . Information provided as part of the complaints and feedback process should state explicitly that the business welcomes comments and complaints from parents about issues affecting children. Businesses should also provide timely feedback to customers in reaction to customer comment. For retail businesses this should form part of their code of good practice (see Recommendation 6), and should also cover how to make it.
  14. Ensuring that businesses and others take action on these recommendations. Government should take stock of progress against the recommendations of this review in 18 months' time. This stocktake should report on the success or otherwise of businesses and others in adopting these recommendations. If it concludes that insufficient progress has been made, the Government should consider taking the most effective action available, including regulating through legislation if necessary, to achieve the recommended outcome.


6th June   

Updated: Daily Mail Pants...

Daily Mail details pants code for retailers selling children's wear
Link Here

High street shops will be told not to sell padded bras and sexually suggestive clothes to children under guidelines to be unveiled on Monday. This will coincide with the publication of a Government-commissioned review into the sexualisation of children by Reg Bailey, head of the Mothers' Union.

Tesco and Sainsbury's have already signed up to the new deal drawn up by the British Retail Consortium, along with George, the clothing range promoted by Asda. Major high street stores including Marks & Spencer, Next, John Lewis, Debenhams, Argos and Peacocks have also agreed to comply.

The BRC's guidelines say:

Slogans and imagery including licensed images and brand marks must be age-appropriate and without undesirable associations or connotations -- for example, sexually suggestive, demeaning, derogative or political material.

Humorous slogans need to be tested against a broad range of views as they can cause unforeseen and unintended offence.

The guidelines warn that underwear ranges require the utmost care , ruling that knickers and pants must provide modesty. Thongs are not appropriate for children .

And in a crackdown on products which seek to treat girls like women, they say: Vests and crop tops should also be designed for modesty with no need for structural support. Under-wiring is not necessary or appropriate for the smallest cup sizes. First bras should be constructed to provide comfort, modesty and support but not enhancement.

No mention should be made of enhancement or under-wiring in any children's ranges.

Comment: False Modesty

5th June 2011. Thanks to Angelus

"...knickers and pants must provide modesty."

"Vests and crop tops should also be designed for modesty"

"First bras should be constructed to provide comfort, modesty and support..."

'm not saying I want little girls dressing like whores (a concept wonderfully deconstructed by South Park), but since when has it been so terrible for them to want to dress up like their mothers? And what is it with the obsession about modesty? Is this supposed to be Afghanistan or something? But actually the most worrying thing is that the guy thinks "first bras" need to support anything - he evidently knows even less about biology than he does anything else.

Update: Published

6th June 2011. See  article from

In response to demands for restrictions on inappropriate children's clothing - including lace lingerie and push-up bras - the British Retail Consortium launched stricter guidelines. See Responsible Retailing [pdf]

The British Retail Consortium's director of public affairs, Jane Bevis, said the guidelines provided extra reassurance for parents that these companies are just as concerned as they are about what their children wear .

Nine stores - Asda, Debenhams, Argos, John Lewis, Next, Marks & Spencer, Peacocks, Sainsbury's and Tesco - have signed up, with others being urged to participate.

Children's Minister Sarah Teather said: It is not government's role to interfere in family life ...BUT... parents often tell me that they would like more support so that they can navigate the rapidly-changing technological and commercial world.


4th June   

Update: British TV is a Conveyer Belt of Smut...

Daily Mail adds details about Reg Bailey's sexualisation report
Link Here

  Reg Bailey
Still suffering from
 premature sexualisation

The Daily Mail adds a few more details (in its typically overwrought style) about Reg Bailey's report:

A report commissioned by the Prime Minister, to be published on Monday, demands an end to the sexualisation of young children.

It will order the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to consult parents about their concerns and report back every year on how it has reinforced taste guidelines.

David Cameron will endorse the proposals of Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Mothers' Union, who found parents are deeply concerned that sexual imagery in television, advertising and pop videos is making children grow up too fast.

Ministers will make clear that they expect changes and the Government is prepared to intervene directly unless the conveyor-belt of smut is toned down.

The report also calls for a hard-hitting crackdown on internet pornography, demanding tighter parental controls over access to explicit websites.

Under the plans, laptops will be sold with parental controls automatically activated and customers will have to request specifically to receive porn -- a reversal of the current position.

Bailey is also demanding a crackdown on lewd lads mags such as Nuts and Zoo, urging retailers to sell the magazines in plain wrappers or put them behind modesty boards which hide their lurid covers from young children.

Ministers will set up a single website which parents can use to report excessive sexual content on screen, in adverts and where high street stores sell inappropriate clothing to youngsters.

The Bailey Review demands a return to the days when parents could be confident that programmes broadcast before 9pm would be suitable for the whole family.

The report accuses broadcasters of actively working against parents by peddling sexual content. 'Some parents even questioned whether the watershed still exists.'

Bailey warns: The watershed was introduced to protect children and pre-watershed programming should therefore be developed and regulated with a greater weight towards the attitudes and views of parents, rather than viewers as a whole. Broadcasters and Ofcom should report annually on how they have specifically engaged parents over the previous year, what they have learnt and what they are doing differently as a result. The onus is on broadcasters to show acceptable content in the first place, not to react to audience complaints after the event.

The report says parents are most concerned by music performances in music and talent shows during family viewing hours which were heavily influenced by the sexualised and gender-steroetyped content of music videos , making them more raunchy than was appropriate for that type of viewing .

It concludes: The industry needs to act and, in the case of pre-watershed family viewing, take a slightly more cautious approach than is currently the case.


3rd June   

Update: Polluted Minds...

Reg Bailey report to call for age classification of music videos and a one stop complaints shop for sufferers of premature sexualisation
Link Here

  Reg Bailey
Suffering from
 premature sexualisation

The government report into sexualisation of childhood is due to be published on Monday. The press seem to have been briefed with advance details as reported in the Guardian.

The report has been commissioned by David Cameron from the biased Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Mothers' Union and long-term campaigner against 'premature sexualisation'.

Bailey is likely to give the retail, advertising and video industry 18 months to improve their act voluntarily or face tougher government regulation.

He is also expected to demand some regulatory bodies such as Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority do more to ensure they seek the views of parents on what is acceptable to show to children.

The report is also set to criticise the growth of peer to peer marketing, where companies hire teenagers to sell or promote products in school.

The review has already led bodies such as the ASA and the BPI, responsible for the music industry, to make pre-emptive efforts to show they are aware of the criticism of the way they currently operate. The ASA has promised to set up an advisory body, as well as regulate advertising on company websites.

The music industry is expected to be told to put some kind of advisory age rating such as films have on music videos. Critics are likely to argue that in practice these music videos go out on TV and parents will unable to stand over their children and prevent them watching them. Latest figures sent to the Bailey review suggest that half of children have access to TV via their computers in their own bedroom.

Senior figures associated with the review are to claim complacency from some industry bodies.

Bailey is likely to be asked by government to follow through his report to ensure his recommendations are implemented. Ministers are aware that the previous government published three reports into sexualisation of children in various aspects, but little happened. But Helen Goodman, the shadow justice minister, said: The voluntary approach has been tried and failed. We must have tougher regulations across the media, including social media. Pester power is the pollution of modern advertising and we should follow the polluter pays principle.

See  article from

The Daily Mail adds that at the moment advertising rules mean alcohol and fast food adverts are banned from billboards near schools. A source involved in drawing up the plans said that would be extended to cover adverts featuring sexual imagery.


31st May   

A Tendency to Deprave and Corrupt...

Ex BBFC film censor jailed for false expense claims
Link Here

Former Conservative peer Lord Taylor of Warwick has been jailed for 12 months for falsely claiming £ 11,277 in parliamentary expenses. He claimed for travel between a home he used in Oxford and Westminster, as well for overnight stays in London.

Taylor listed his main residence as a home in Oxford, which was owned by his nephew, while he actually lived in a flat in Ealing, west London. He said he had made the false claims in lieu of a salary , and had been acting on colleagues' advice.

Jailing him, judge Mr Justice Saunders said the expenses scandal had left an indelible stain on Parliament .

Taylor was a former vice-president of the British Board of Film Classification serving from 1998 until 2000. He was appointed during moral times when the Government were keeping a close eye on BBFC presidential appointments. This was to ensure a bit of Jack Straw imposed morality after James Ferman had started the hardcore legalisation ball rolling by passing a few hardcore snippets in R18 videos. So much for their selection of moral high grounders.


31st May   

Dangerous Barnsley...

Shoppers warned to avoid Barnsley town centre lest they get fined for strong language by police abusing the Public Order Act
Link Here

Swearing in public could land Barnsley town centre vistors with an £ 80 on-the-spot fine. Police are targeting bad language in the centre of Barnsley supposedly to encourage shoppers to return.

And members of the public are being urged to report offensive and intimidating language, including swearing, in a bid to clean up the town's bad image.

South Yorkshire Police will abuse existing powers under the 1986 Public Order Act to hand out fines. The 'initiative' comes into force today. 

Inspector Julie Mitchell of South Yorkshire Police said: It is important to note that some people feel upset and intimidated from hearing swearing. Therefore, it has been agreed that those found to be swearing in the town centre will be dealt with appropriately, by either advice or enforcement.

It is not clear how they will decide whether a particular use of language is offensive - both in terms of the words used and the effects on the person being spoken to. Perhaps they will take inspiration from Judge Dredd

Campaigner Phil Davies, from Barnsley Voice, which represents businesses in the town centre, said: There is nothing wrong with swearing, I do it every day, but it is when it is targeted at somebody. 


31st May   

Update: Revealing More...

Another batch of claimed celebrity injunctions published
Link Here

Another twitter user has published details of more purported celebrity gagging orders.

A newly created Twitter account posted details of 13 alleged injunctions early yesterday morning, directing users to a website for further detailed information. After attracting more than 500 followers within the first 10 hours of publication, the tweets were removed.

Mark Stephens, a media lawyer, said the courts could instruct the Attorney General or solicitors to begin proceedings, at public expense, to find out who the person behind the breach was. They would then be subject to a contempt of court action: One of the things about this is that it is a cynical snub of the judiciary but a lot of this information has been available for people using the internet for quite some time.

But Sara Mansoori, a media barrister at Matrix chambers, which represents claimants and defendants including some mentioned in the latest alleged Twitter breach, said a judge had recently rebuffed solicitors' calls for the court to start contempt proceedings -- instead telling them they could apply to the Attorney General to intervene: The [breaches] are starting to be a head-on collision with the courts, she said. Courts are implementing laws by Parliament. We have moved away from privacy laws to contempt laws, we are in a very serious situation [but] we have got Parliament, through comments through the Prime Minister saying he is concerned about the courts, and John Hemming [the MP] saying they are unhappy with the way the courts are applying the law.

The author of the latest alleged Twitter breach used the anonymous mask -- employed by groups and individuals seeking to challenge institutions and whistle blow wrongdoings.


29th May   

BBFC Bahraini Cooperation...

Bahrain gives the BBFC a lesson in 'proper' censorship
Link Here

President of the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa conducted a visit to the BBFC as part of his visit to London.

During his meeting BBFC Assistant Director David Austin presented Shaikh Fawaz with a detailed briefing on the duties of the BBFC related to regulating and classification of films.

Austin also reviewed with IAA president the independency of the board financially and administratively along with means of monitoring movies and its final endorsement.

Meanwhile, Shaikh Fawaz reviewed with Austin various means of cooperation between the IAA and the BBFC making use of its expertise in the Kingdom of Bahrain through the study of privatization of film classification.

Bahrain shows off its censorship expertise by destroying 100,000 publications

Based on article from

Following directives of the IAA's President Shaikh Fawaz, Bahrain's Publication and Publishing Directorate in coordination with the Public Prosecutor destroyed more than 100,000 publications that are contrary to the laws and regulations.

This action is considered the largest of its kind since the past five years, which included the seizure of large numbers of computer software, CD-ROMs and films in violation of the law regulating the press, printing and publishing and the copyright law and that related to rights and intellectual property laws.

The Director of Publications and Publishing Censorship, Nawaf Mohammed Al Mawadh,  said that this process comes in the framework of the keenness of the Kingdom of Bahrain's commitment to international covenants and laws, and to protect the market and society from counterfeit and indecent publications, which are incompatible with the teachings of religion and morals of society.


26th May   

Dangerous Tweets...

Scottish government agree proposal to ban threatening communications about football
Link Here

New laws against soccer sectarianism could be in place by the start of the next football season after proposals won the support of the Scottish cabinet.

The Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Communications Bill would see football supporters who cause sectarian disruption at matches or online jailed for up to five years.

Currently people who cause disruption at matches can be charged with breach of the peace, with a maximum one-year sentence. Online hate crime, such as comments posted on Twitter, will be included in the legislation and would carry the same punishment.

A spokesman for Alex Salmond said that the Bill is focused on particular areas of the issue of sectarianism and is part of a much wider and comprehensive effort to eradicate the problem .

The Bill is expected to be presented to Parliament by the middle of June and completed by the end of the month.

Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham has been given special responsibility to tackle the issue.


26th May   

Update: Snitch Twitter...

Twitter will hand over data connected with accounts defying court injunctions
Link Here

Twitter said it was prepared to hand over information identifying tens of thousands of people who have used the social-networking website to break privacy injunctions.

A senior executive from Twitter has admitted that the website would turn over information to authorities if it was legally required to do so.

Experts had previously assumed that people who breached gagging orders on Twitter were protected from legal reprisals because the website is outside the jurisdiction of British courts.

Ryan Giggs, the Premiership footballer, last week started legal proceedings against Twitter and persons unknown after more than 70,000 users revealed that he had obtained an injunction to hide an extra-marital affair.

Tony Wang, Twitter's head of European operations, said that the website would notify users in advance so they could fight the application in the court before Twitter handed over the information. He said:

Platforms have a responsibility, not to defend that user but to protect that user's right to defend him or herself. If we're legally required to turn over user information, to the extent that we can, we want to notify the user involved, let them know and let them exercise their rights under their own jurisdiction. That's not to say that they will ultimately prevail, that's not to say that law enforcement doesn't get the information they need, but what it does do is take that process into the court of law and let it play out there.


25th May   

Offsite: Ofcom Get Political...

Ofcom censure Iranian Press TV for interview with arrested journalist
Link Here

Ofcom has ruled that Iran's state-run Press TV is responsible for a serious breach of UK broadcasting rules and could face a fine for airing an interview with Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist arrested covering the Iranian presidential election in 2009, that was obtained by force while he was held in a Tehran jail.

...Read the full article


25th May   

Offsite: Secret Extent...

Independent counts 333 gagging orders in the past 5 years
Link Here

The extent of court privacy injunctions in British public life and the media can be revealed today after an analysis by The Independent found that more than 333 gagging orders protecting the identities of celebrities, children and private individuals have been granted in the past five years.

As the ramifications of the naming in Parliament of footballer Ryan Giggs continued to fuel the debate over injunctions, MPs renewed calls for the Ministry of Justice to begin collating figures for the number of privacy orders being granted in Britain's courts after a senior judge warned that the absence of reliable data was undermining public confidence in the administration of justice.

...Read the full article


23rd May   

Update: Named and Shamed...

Ryan Giggs named in a Scottish newspaper, then Wikipedia, then the House of Commons
Link Here

The attempt to use super-injunctions to gag the media in the internet age has reached new levels of absurdity.

It was reported that a High Court judge had referred an unidentified journalist to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, to consider a criminal prosecution for breaching a privacy injunction with a tweet about another footballer. The move could potentially mean that criminal proceedings would be brought against 30,000 people who have broken one or other of the contested injunctions by tweeting in recent days the identities of those involved.

However, sources close to the Attorney General suggested he would be highly unlikely to authorise criminal proceedings against anyone who had breached either injunction on Twitter. They said that he would be unlikely to want to become embroiled in an increasingly farcical situation and suggested that if the footballers' lawyers wanted redress against tweeters, they should do it through the civil courts.

Yet on the same day when the increasingly farcical attempts of lawyers to restrict the flow of information about their clients unravelled further, a Scottish newspaper, the Sunday Herald, devoted its front page to a clearly recognisable photo of one of the footballers involved. Below the picture, a caption read: Everyone knows that this is the footballer accused of using the courts to keep allegations of a sexual affair secret. But we weren't supposed to tell you that...

The Scottish paper's editor said he printed the picture because he did not think it was bound by the English legal injunction. However, the paper did not name the footballer in its two-page spread on privacy, and Scottish lawyers questioned whether it would be able to defend its decision in court.

However Campbell Deane, of the leading Scottish libel firm Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co, said he believed the paper was covered by the injunction and could now be referred to the Lord Advocate, who could bring charges against the paper's editor and its owners.

But Reuters reports that Scotland's most senior politician Alex Salmond said on Monday that the Herald should not be pursued by the English courts for publishing the player's photo: It looks to me like the English law, English injunctions look increasingly impractical in the modern world, It seems that everyone is out of step except the English courts.

In a later development Wikipedia has now added an item about the injunction identifying the footballer involved


23rd May   

Offsite: Swearwords and Parental Guidance...

If the Guardian were a film, what BBFC rating would it get?
Link Here

A reader says that he will no longer buy the Guardian. On the face of it, the reason is the use in The Guide, the paper's weekly entertainment supplement, of a band's name that includes an obscenity. It is not a new issue for the Guardian and the policy on swearwords has been written about in this and other columns before.

While sitting on my sofa this morning, my seven-year-old daughter turned to me and said, 'Daddy, what does 'fucked up' mean' , wrote the reader, referring to a music review of a punk band called Fucked Up, on page 22 of The Guide on 30 April 2011.

The reader was unhappy with my reply. Should I really be prepared 'to intervene', as you put it, when my daughter picks up The Guide next time? he asked. What age do you recommend for Guardian readership if you are content to write 'Fucked Up' in bold text at the top of a review? 16 years old? 18 maybe?

This is what I wrote to the reader: In the past I have written that it is hard to write a paper for adults that is suitable for children. I think inevitably some parents will take the view that all sorts of material is unsuitable ... If the Guardian was a film I don't think it would carry a U certificate -- I think it would be a PG. Legitimate coverage of adult issues in a clear and comprehensible way is fine but we should keep out cheap, quick, gratuitously offensive pieces and pictures that are just there to shock in a puerile fashion. I don't think the Guardian always gets it right but we try harder than you might think.

...Read the full article

Comment: 12 rather than PG

On the topic of strong language in the Guardian, the certificate 12/12A seems closest:

From the BBFC guidelines:

Strong language at PG: Mild bad language only

Strong language at 12/12A: Moderate language is allowed. The use of strong language (for example, ‘fuck’) must be infrequent.


22nd May   

Updated: Own Goal...

Infamous footballer vs heroic Twitter
Link Here

Legal proceedings are being taken by a professional footballer against Twitter for allegedly publishing information covered by a super-injunction.

The player, identified only by the initials CTB, is also known to be taking action against the Sun newspaper and ex-Big Brother star Imogen Thomas.

Papers lodged in the High Court are against Twitter and persons unknown . They request disclosure of Twitter users said to be behind the publication of confidential information. Legal fight The order requires Twitter to disclose the requested information within seven days - or within the appropriate time required by the law in California, where Twitter has its headquarters.

Media lawyer Nick Lockett said the legal action against Twitter may not have much effect. What will have to be established is that Twitter was subject to the jurisdiction of the court, he said. While UK courts claim worldwide jurisdiction this has often proved hard to enforce. In the case of the US, said Lockett, the situation was complicated by the Communications Decency Act which grants immunity from prosecution for providers of interactive computer services under certain circumstances. Lawyers acting for CTB may struggle to prove that Twitter does not deserve this immunity, said Lockett.

Based on article from

Hundreds of Twitter users have reacted to a footballer's bid to find out who is putting information about him on the website by posting new messages online.

Twitter has not commented but hundreds of users have repeated his name online.

Update: 30,000 Tweets

22nd May 2011. See  article from

A Premier League footballer's attempts to gag discussion of his extramarital affair with a Big Brother contestant appeared doomed to failure after the total of messages about the star posted on Twitter hit 30,000.

And the number of tweets about the affair has rocketed over the course of the last 48 hours following his decision to launch a second legal action aimed at trying to prevent disclosure of the relationship on Twitter.

Within 24 hours of the player launching the new challenge, more than 12,000 tweets about him and the relationship appeared on the site. Miss Thomas was named alongside the footballer in more than 6,000. Last night tweets about the affair were being posted at a rate of 900 every hour.

Update: Putting people in prison just to hide sexual peccadilloes

22nd May 2011. See  article from

A journalist on one of Britain's most respected newspapers -- who also appears on a widely-viewed BBC programme -- could face a jail sentence after naming on Twitter a Premier League footballer who had taken out a privacy injunction.

In the first case of its kind, lawyers for the soccer star have persuaded a High Court judge to ask Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC to consider a criminal prosecution against the writer for breaching a privacy injunction. If Grieve decides to issue contempt of court proceedings, the individual faces a prison sentence of up to two years.

The unprecedented legal action shows the extreme lengths to which public figure can go to prevent the exposure of adulterous affairs and misbehaviour.


21st May   

Update: Secret Parliament...

Up n coming review of superinjunctions
Link Here

Lord Neuberger's soon to be published review is expected to warn spate of restrictive privacy orders pose a grave threat to tradition of open justice Superinjunctions should only be granted in exceptional circumstances because of the threat they pose to open justice, a report by one of Britain's most senior judges is expected to warn.

Pre-notification ought to be given to third parties, such as the media, of court hearings where celebrities or others are applying for restrictive orders protecting their anonymity, the study headed by the master of the rolls, Lord Neuberger, is also expected to recommend.

Another issue the report may address is the question of how far parliamentary privilege protects the media in reporting speeches by MPs or peers that may be in contempt of court orders.

Whether Neuberger's report will add to the argument that the government needs to pass a privacy law is not clear.

The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ruled it out following a meeting with the justice secretary, Ken Clarke.

The long-awaited survey of superinjunctions and privacy orders, which runs to around 100 pages, will provide the government with clearer evidence about the need for a privacy law. Established last year in the wake of the Trafigura affair and the row over the England footballer John Terry's private life, the Neuberger committee of experts was asked to examine the use of injunctions which bind the press and so-called 'superinjunctions' .


19th May   

Update: Searching for Defiance...

Google not impressed by UK website blocking measures in the Digital Economy Act
Link Here
Full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has warned that government plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites could set a disastrous precedent for freedom of speech.

Speaking to journalists at Google's Big Tent conference in London, Schmidt said the online search giant would challenge attempts to restrict access to the Pirate Bay and other so-called cyberlocker sites,  part of government plans to fight online piracy through controversial measures included in the Digital Economy Act.

Schmidt described website blocking as akin to China's restrictive internet regime:

I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems, he said. So, 'let's whack off the DNS'. Okay, that seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent because now another country will say 'I don't like free speech so I'll whack off all those DNSs' -- that country would be China.

It doesn't seem right. I would be very, very careful about that stuff. If [the UK government] do it the wrong way it could have disastrous precedent setting in other areas.

Speaking at the same conference, the culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, said plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites were on schedule. He admitted that a challenge of the controversial measure is deciding which sites get blocked.

Ofcom is due to present its report on the practicability of the site-blocking measures included in the DEA to Hunt in the coming weeks.


18th May   

Update: Private Vices and Public Gags...

Justice Secretary indicates that he will introduce a privacy law
Link Here

Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has indicated that a new privacy law will be introduced after warning that the public is not entitled to know about the sex lives of footballers [and politicians?] .

Clarke said there were areas of privacy where Britons could expect to be protected, but added he was uneasy about the use of super-injunctions, which prevent the public from knowing if a gagging order has even been obtained.

Last week, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that more than 80 injunctions have been taken out by well-known people, including Premier League footballers, actors and an MP.

Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, will this week present an official report to the Government on injunctions, which is expected to recommend more public scrutiny of their use.

Clarke said: 

Plainly, I believe in the freedom of the press and freedom of speech in this country, even when sometimes it is exercised provocatively ...HOWEVER... I also think there are areas of privacy where an individual is entitled to have it protected.

It is probably right to say that Parliament passing a privacy act might well be the best way of resolving it. But we need to get somewhat nearer to a consensus, and one needs to know exactly how we are going to strike this balance.


17th May   

Free Palestine...

BBC censor a Mic Righteous rap
Link Here

The BBC has come under attack after the words free Palestine were edited out of a performance by rapper Mic Righteous on a 1Xtra show. The freestyle rap originally aired in December, but appeared again in a best-of show at the end of April with the political statement edited out.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign issued a statement last week urging listeners to write to the BBC and Radio Times to complain about what they termed an extraordinary act of censorship .

A BBC spokesman claimed: All BBC programmes have a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to Mic Righteous' freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained .


17th May   

Updated: Unlawful Killing...

The film the British won't get to see
Link Here

My documentary about the Diana inquest will be shown everywhere but the UK. Here's why

The internet is a global lavatory wall, a Rabelaisian mixture of truth, lies, insanity and humour. I felt its power and madness this week, when an excerpt from my new film, Unlawful Killing, was leaked on to YouTube and seized on by US conspiracy theorists, who immediately began claiming that the CIA had murdered Princess Diana, thereby allowing others to dismiss my documentary as mad.

Deriding its critics as mad is an age-old British establishment trick. My inquest of the inquest film contains footage of Diana recalling how the royals wanted her consigned to a mental institution, and the inquest coroner repeatedly questioning the sanity of anyone who wondered if the crash was more than an accident. His chief target was Mohamed Al Fayed, a man I once profiled for a Channel 4 documentary. Before I met him, I'd half-believed the media caricature of him as a madman, driven nuts by the death of his son, and wildly accusing the Windsors of having planned the 1997 crash. However, I found a man who was sane and funny but frustrated that Britain wouldn't hold an inquest into his son's death. Michael Mansfield QC thought it unfair too, and fought for one to be held; which was why the longest inquest in British legal history eventually began in 2007.


Why is the film being premiered next week at Cannes, three years after the inquest ended? Because British lawyers insisted on 87 cuts before any UK release could be contemplated. So rather than butcher the film, or risk legal action, we're showing it in France, then the US, and everywhere except the UK.

...Read the full article

Update: Maybe

17th May 2011. See  article from

Keith Allen has suggested that his Princess Diana documentary Unlawful Killing may be screened in London.

Speaking at a press conference for the film in Cannes, Allen said:

I haven't made any cuts of the 87 that were suggested, which is contributing to why the film isn't being shown in England. When you want to screen a film in England you have to have insurance, and the only way to get insurance is to be lawyer-approved. I could get lawyer approval if I made the 87 cuts, which I wasn't prepared to make.

It's an ongoing process, there's a chance it may be seen in England. We're in talks with the [BFI] London Film Festival and it could be shown there.

Update: Sydney Film Festival

25th August 2013.  See  article from

A controversial documentary alleging dark forces in the British establishment covered up details of Diana, the Princess of Wales' death in 1997 will be screened at a Sydney film festival next month.

The screening of Unlawful Killing at the Sydney Underground Film Festival on September 7 and 8 is understood to be the only time it has been shown outside a private screening at the 2011 Cannes film festival and at an Irish festival.

It will be screened one day after the world premiere of Diana , a biopic starring Naomi Watts, in London on September 5.


16th May   

Offsite: Hanna vs the BBFC...

Blogger has a go at the BBFC over the 12A certificate for Hanna
Link Here

It's Hanna that's got me all riled up. Obviously everything I say here is completely subjective to me and I'm not stating it as fact even if I believe it to be absolutely and irrevocably true. Hanna is not a 12A, even though the BBFC say it is. Oh and I completely adored the film, a fucking corker. But that's not the point.

The BBFC rate Hanna as 12A for moderate violence and one use of strong language. For the record Thor is rated 12A for moderate fantasy violence. Watch them both and tell me they're suitable for the same audience, one fuck or not.

...Read the full article


13th May   

Update: Twitter Protection...

Latest privacy injunction specifically bans publication on social networking sites
Link Here

The first injunction specifically banning the publication of information on Facebook and Twitter was issued yesterday.

The far-reaching order was issued in the Court of Protection in the case of a mother who wants to withdraw life support from her brain-damaged daughter. It prevents the identification of the woman, her relatives and those caring for her.

Legal experts said they had never seen an injunction which specifically barred publication of information on social networking websites.

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who is campaigning against the excessive use of gagging orders, said: They are like King Canute, the tide will keep coming in no matter what they do. The problem the courts have is Twitter is not registered in the UK and is therefore outside British jurisdiction. What they are saying is unrealistic. This is about life and death and I don't think it's acceptable, there is a real issue with transparency. The Court of Protection operates in a bubble -- it's out of touch with the real world.


10th May   

Update: TalkTalk BlockBlock...

British ISP starts a website blocking service for children
Link Here

One of the UK's largest ISPs has launched network-level website blocking aimed at protecting subscribers' children and their computers. While reports of HomeSafe's ability to block access to viruses, pornography and violent content has been widespread, it also blocks file-sharing sites and even information about file sharing at .

The package offers various services

  • Virus Alerts which blocks sites (or sections of sites) known to be infected with malware.
  • Homework Time , a feature which allows parents to grant kids access to the Internet for educational purposes, but stops them in their tracks should they attempt to become distracted by social networking sites such as Facebook.
  • KidsSafe, offers parents a set of controls to stop their kids (or indeed anyone else using a TalkTalk Internet connection) from accessing violent, pornographic or gambling content.

TalkTalk is stressing that HomeSafe is completely optional and is disabled by default. The list of blocked sites will not be made available.


10th May   

Update: Mosley Lashed by the European Court...

Max Mosley fails bid to force publishers to warn those effected by newspaper exposes
Link Here

Ex Formula 1 boss Max Mosley has lost his European Court of Human Rights bid to force newspapers to warn people before exposing their private lives.

He said the Strasbourg verdict was disappointing but he may appeal, to keep fighting for tighter privacy laws: [I'm] obviously disappointed, but it's satisfying that they've been extremely critical of the News of the World.

Mosley won his 2008 High Court battle after a judge ruled there was no justification for the News of the World's front-page article about him paying five women to take part in a sado-masochistic orgy.

The tabloid reported that the orgy involving Mosley, the son of fascist leader Oswald Mosley, had Nazi overtones, but this was rejected by the judge.

Although he was awarded £ 60,000 damages, everyone had learned the details of his sexual preferences, and he argued money alone could not restore his reputation. He said once a story had been published, you could not un-publish it, and the damage had been done.

He took his case to the Human Rights Court, challenging UK laws which allow publication without giving targets advanced warning. The court clearly had some sympathy for Mosley's individual case, but said it had to look more broadly and assess the balance between an individual's right to privacy and the media's right to freedom of expression under the UK's legal system.

The UK, along with other contracting states, has a margin of appreciation - ie some leeway in the way it protects people's right to privacy. Taking that into account, the court found that the mix of rights and remedies available to people in the UK - which includes actions for damages, injunctions when the person knows of an imminent story, and regulation of the press through the Press Complaints Commission - sufficiently protected their privacy. It also feared that a general requirement of prior notification risked having a chilling effect on serious investigative journalism.


9th May   

Sadistically Punishing WTF TV...

Ofcom get excited by Rihanna's S+M
Link Here

Music Video: Rihanna - S&M
WTF TV, 10 March 2011, 11:25

WTF TV [great name!] is a music channel that primarily broadcasts music videos of mainstream chart music, including pop and R&B/Urban, and classic music videos from the last 30 years. The channel uses a video jukebox format. The channel is owned and operated by TV Two.

WTF TV broadcast a music video by the R&B/pop singer Rihanna for the song S&M , at 11:25 on 10 March.

The video contained themes of sexual bondage, dominance and sadomasochism, including images of Rihanna: being dragged into a room of press journalists and cameras; her body and face being restrained behind cellophane; walking a man – who is the well known gossip blogger Perez Hilton - on a leash like a dog and whipping him; whipping a man dressed as a journalist with his hands and feet tied up with gaffer tape; in sexualised positions with blow-up dolls; lying on the floor on her chest with her hands and feet tied up with rope behind her back in positions of sexualised restraint; dressed up in various rubber and latex fetish outfits; and eating a banana and licking an ice cream encrusted with jewels in a sexually suggestive manner. The video also included images of people dressed as press journalists with bondage-style „ball gags? in, or gaffer tape across, their mouths. There were very brief images of the word slut written on Rihanna?s dress and a press journalist's notepad.

The song in the music video included the following lyrics:

Feels so good being bad (Oh oh oh oh oh) There's no way I'm turning back (Oh oh oh oh oh) Now the pain is for pleasure cause nothing could measure (Oh oh oh oh oh)…

Cause I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it Sticks and stones may break my bones But chains and whips excite me…

Oh, I love the feeling you bring to me, oh, you turn me on It's exactly what I've been yearning for, give it to me strong And meet me in my boudoir, make my body say ah ah ah I like it-like it

Ofcom received a complaint that the music video was completely unsuitable for daytime broadcast.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.3 of the Code: Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3

Ofcom had to consider first whether this broadcast material was unsuitable for children. We took into consideration that while the video included themes of bondage, sexual dominance and sadomasochism, as described above, such themes and corresponding images were presented in a surreal, colourful and sometimes humorous manner, rather than representing strong fetish material or depicting real or realistic sadomasochistic practices. We also noted that TV Two argued that the video reflects the real life drama of the artist who recently experienced well documented domestic violence from a partner , and that the broadcaster considered these images to be cartoon-like, over-the-top sequences which were artistic and not dark or seedy .

However, Ofcom considered that some of the images included in the video had a significant sexual fetish, bondage and sadomasochistic nature. The video included images of Rihanna: with her body and face being restrained behind cellophane; walking a man on a leash like a dog and whipping him; whipping a man dressed as a journalist with his hands and feet tied up with gaffer tape; adopting sexualised positions with blow-up dolls; lying on the floor on her chest with her hands and feet tied up with rope behind her backs in positions of sexualised restraint; dressed up in various rubber and latex fetish outfits; and eating a banana and licking an ice cream encrusted with jewels in a sexually suggestive manner. The video also included images of people dressed as press journalists with bondage-style ball gags in, or gaffer tape across, their mouths.

In addition, Ofcom considered that in tandem with the images in this video, the lyrics of the song clearly and repeatedly focused on sex, bondage and sadomasochistic sexual practices as a theme. For example:

Cause I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it, Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it, Sticks and stones may break my bones, But chains and whips excite me 2 ;


Oh, I love the feeling you bring to me, oh, you turn me on, It's exactly what I've been yearning for, give it to me strong.

In Ofcom's view, the cumulative effect of the images described above and the sexual lyrics of the song resulted in the video conveying a powerful, sexualised fetish theme. Further, in Ofcom's view, some of the behaviour in the video (such as images of Rihanna – and in particular her body and face – being restrained by a large cellophane sheet, and shots of people with their mouths gagged with gaffer tape or ball gags could have potentially dangerous consequences if imitated by children.

Given the above, it is Ofcom's view that the content of this particular music video was not suitable for children.

Ofcom therefore went on to consider whether this material was appropriately scheduled so as to provide adequate protection to children from viewing this unsuitable material.

Ofcom was conscious that WTF TV does not appear to attract a large child audience. However, we also took into account that Rihanna is a very well known and popular singer who has a widespread appeal to children, including younger children, and this particular music video received a large amount of press attention and interest before being broadcast. Further, we noted that WTF TV did not place a time restriction on this particular music video. Therefore it would have been broadcast at various times throughout the day (not just at 11:25) when children, especially younger children, are available to watch television, some unaccompanied by an adult. Ofcom noted the fact that, during daytime and before the watershed, other music channels only broadcast an edited version of this video.

In light of the above factors, it is Ofcom?s view that given the sexualised nature of the content and theme, and the at times inappropriate and potentially dangerous and imitable behaviour shown in this video, this material exceeded the likely expectations of the audience for this channel during daytime.

We therefore concluded that the material breached Rule 1.3.

Ofcom will shortly be issuing new guidance about the acceptability of material in music videos broadcast before the watershed. We will also be requesting that broadcasters who transmit such programming attend a meeting at Ofcom to discuss the compliance of such material.


9th May   

Update: There's No Twitter Smoke Without Fire...

Twitter user stirs things up by naming celebrities claimed to have taken out super injunctions
Link Here

A Twitter user named InjuctionSuper has stirred things up with some celebrities who he claims to have obtained super-injunctions to prevent publication of details of their private lives.

The press say that some of these claims are not true but of course they cannot say which these are nor can they confirm any false names.

The use of super injunctions seems ever present in the news these days and seems to be causing much disquiet. A report by a committee set up by the Master of the Rolls - the most senior civil law judge at the Court of Appeal - will report on their use later this month.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said it will have to grapple with the issue of publication online.

If it doesn't the super or secret-injunction may no longer be an effective tool in the administration of justice, he said.

Media lawyer Charlotte Harris, of Mishcon de Reya, said the stories subject to super-injunctions were quite often cases of nasty blackmail . She said: You should be allowed to end a relationship with somebody, whether you are married or not, without having that person say 'right, I'm going to go to the paper, I'm going to destroy your life, I'm going to tell everybody every intimate thing about you'.

A lawyer who acts for newspapers suggested the viral effect of postings on social media websites could make a mockery of super-injunctions. Niri Shan, head of media law at Taylor Wessing, added: You can get an allegation that is made but before you know... it goes to potentially millions of people. Although people don't take these allegations as seriously as newspapers they certainly have a detrimental effect.


9th May   

PCC Tweet Tweak...

Newspaper censor set extend its remit to cover tweets from accounts associated with newspapers
Link Here

Reporter and newspaper Twitter feeds are expected to brought under the censorship of the Press Complaints Commission later this year, the first time the body has sought to consolidate social media messages under its remit.

The PCC believes that some postings on Twitter are, in effect part of a newspaper's editorial product , writings that its code of practice would otherwise cover if the same text appeared in print or on a newspaper website. Last year the PCC found it was unable to rule in a complaint made against tweets published by the Brighton Argus.

Its plan, though, is to distinguish between journalists' public and private tweets. Any Twitter feed that has the name of the newspaper and is clearly an official feed -- such as @telegraphnews or @thesun_bizarre -- will almost certainly be monitored. However, that principle could be further extended to cover a reporter's official work account, whilst leaving personal accounts as outside its ambit.

The PCC wants each newspaper to develop a Twitter policy , to tell its reporters which accounts are considered part of its editorial product and which are not. But with many newspapers, including the Guardian, republishing tweets on their site, many journalist musings are likely to be drawn in.

An online working group of the PCC has already recommended that the body undertake a remit extension , after consulting with the newspaper industry as to how Twitter regulation can be implemented. That consultation is due to finish in the summer and the new rules are likely to be in place by the end of the year.


6th May   

Offsite: Gagging For It...

Celebrities in a rush for gagging orders
Link Here

See  article from

A Premiership footballer is the latest to obtain a gagging order to prevent details of an affair becoming public. Kimberley West

Miss West, 18, claims she had a three-month relationship with the footballer after meeting in a nightclub.

He joins a growing list of celebrities who have taken out injunctions to prevent details of their private life being made public.

See  article from

A serving MP is seeking a super-injunction preventing details of their activities being exposed, it was disclosed today.

The revelation came in the Commons as MPs discussed future Parliamentary business - including whether to debate creeping judge-made privacy laws and the spiralling use of gagging orders.

Each Thursday MPs are allowed to press Leader of the House Sir George Young to allocate Government time for debates. Conservative Matthew Offord (Hendon) used the session to raise the gagging orders.

He said: There has been much public discussion on the increasing use of super-injunctions and the ability of judges to decide policy instead of elected Parliamentarians.

Is the Leader of the House aware of the anomaly this creates if, as has been rumoured, a member of this place seeks a super-injunction to prevent discussion of their activities?'

See  article from

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

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

It is the latest example of a major public figure remaining anonymous thanks to creeping privacy rulings by judges.

The woman -- known only as Miss J -- claims she suffered sex discrimination and also a detriment after she acted as a whistleblower at the company -- which can be referred to only as K Ltd .

No reasons have been given for the gagging order, but such devices can be used in cases of sexual misconduct under industrial tribunal rules.


6th May   

Offsite: Worried about the Amount of Bollox they Read in Newspapers...

1/4 men worried about the amount of porn they watch online
Link Here

There's been a substantial amount of media attention today for a survey by BBC Radio One's Newsbeat and the Portman Clinic. Suggesting porn use among men is endemic and in many cases problematic.

One question was reported in the Radio One report of the study. It asked How have you ever looked at porn? It then gave respondents the choice of magazines, DVDs, TV, Free and Pay websites, mobile phones and file sharing.

The problem with questions phrased like this is they may look sensible at first glance, but actually are highly problematic and potentially meaningless.

If we take ever looked at first, what does that mean? Ever looked at as in sat down, watched a lot and masturbated yourself stupid? Or ever looked at as in was shown by some mates for a laugh, or ever looked at as in accidentally found when looking for something else online or on TV?

Ever looked at seems to be taken here to mean regular porn use, or at least some porn use. Whereas it doesn't tell us anything about the context people are viewing porn -- or the amount. I may have ever looked at porn once ten years ago and never again. But this survey would put me in the same category as someone whose ever looked at definition included looking at porn several times a week over months or years.

...Read the full article


4th May   

Updated: Bailey Bollox...

All society's ills to be cured by banning gay kisses from pre-watershed TV
Link Here

Lesbian kisses could be banned from television screens until the watershed under nutter inspired Government plans to stop children being exposed to supposedly indecent images.

A review launched with the backing of David Cameron is expected to recommend that sexually suggestive scenes currently allowed before the 9pm watershed, such as the famous lesbian embrace on soap opera Brookside, should not be shown until later in the evening.

The inquiry is being led by Mothers' Union chief executive Reg Bailey.

The Daily Mail said that Bailey is likely to focus on more restrictive watershed rules. A source close to the inquiry said: It is hard to protect children in the internet and mobile-phone age but we have to do something.

Sources also suggested that raunchy dance routines, such as those by pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna on last year's X Factor final, could also fall foul of more censorial watershed rules.

Bailey is also understood to be looking at a ban on sexy advertisements in public places. The source added: Some of those huge poster advertisements for bras and knickers leave precious little to the imagination and they are there for all our children to see.

Bailey is examining restricting internet pornography by enabling parents to ask ISPs to block adult websites at source rather than relying on parental controls.

Update: Mothers' Union chief executive Reg Bailey is not speaking for the Mothers' Union

4th May 2011. See  article from

Clarification on reports published in print and online 1st and 2nd May 2011.

Mothers' Union explicitly refutes all allegations regarding the banning of lesbian kisses on television before or after the watershed as claimed by the media this week, including in The Sun and the Daily Mail newspapers.

The Bailey Review as conducted by the Department of Education is independent of the Mothers' Union's Bye Buy Childhood Campaign and therefore, any recourse to statements against Mothers' Union are unfounded and should be directed to the Department of Education.

The Mothers' Union's Campaign is gender inclusive and is therefore, neither targeted towards or against any type of relationship and should not be expressed as such.


29th April   

We Are Not Amused...

Australian TV show banned from joking about royal wedding
Link Here

The Australian TV show The Chaser, which had planned an irreverent commentary to accompany images of the ceremony, has been pulled from ABC2's schedule, after learning that footage of the event is banned from being used in any comedy or satirical program.

ABC TV director Kim Dalton said he was surprised and disappointed that The Chaser could not be aired, while one of the show's stars, Julian Morrow, described the rule as out of step with a modern democracy.

Clarence House, which oversees the affairs of Prince William and drew up the broadcast contract with the BBC, issued a statement saying that it was standard practice for these kinds of religious ceremonies to include a clause which restricts usage in drama, comedy, satirical, or similar entertainment programs.

Organizations championing freedom of expression have questioned whether the royals should have the right to impose such restrictions, especially given that the taxpayer will pick up most of the costs involved in organizing the event.

Padraig Reidy, news editor at Britain's Index on Censorship, describes the royal family's control of the coverage as bizarre. He adds that plans for preemptive arrests and restrictions on the right to protest were even more concerning, branding as unprecedented the police's intended approach.


24th April   

Angering Greek Gods...

Dangerous email wipes out 5% from the worth of Greek banks
Link Here

A London trader will be questioned by police after he was accused by Greek authorities of allegedly sending an email which sent markets crashing.

Paul Moss who works at the London-based Citigroup allegedly sent an email from the Canary Wharf office and said Greece would restructure its debt as soon as the weekend.

He is now being accused of causing a 4.6% drop in Greek bank shares.

The country has been excluded from financial markets because of the crippling debt crises it suffered last year. However, authorities have constantly tried to ease investment fears by saying the debt is manageable.

Greek police confirmed they had recovered a computer from the US bank Citigroup and plan to question Moss about the damaging email .


23rd April   

Foundem Founder...

MPs debate Google's stranglehold on internet search
Link Here

British MPs have called for Google to be regulated as a dominant player in the Internet industry. The call follows a complaint by a British-based price comparisons company to the European Commission.

The MPs debated whether Google should be regulated in the context of its dominance as a search engine. The debate was prompted by the complaint by a British company, Foundem, to the European Commission. Foundem operates a price-comparison service for online shopping. According to the MP Dominc Raab, Conservative Member for Esher and Walton, Foundem has alleged that Google downgraded its search results, and acted anti-competitively in a way which was financially negative for Foundem.

Mr Raab accused the regulators, Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading, of complacency. He called on them to take action against companies abusing dominance. Search engines are the gateways to the Internet, and with a 95% share, Google is in a dominant position. If Google does not allow consumers to access potential competitors via its search engine gateway, they will be choked out of the market-place he said.

Phillip Lee, member for Bracknell, pointing out that 90% of Britons use Google to find things online, accused Google of suppressing the growth of a business based in his consitutuency. I don't think that one company having that much power is good for industry

Ed Vaizey, the Minister responsible, gave his support to Foundem, but declined to take any further action because the issue is with the EU Commission.


23rd April   

Comment: At the Very Margin of Acceptability...

Ofcom begrudgingly accepts mildly sexy X Factor dancer performances
Link Here
Full story: UK TV Talent Shows...A talent for whingeing

The X Factor Final
ITV1, 11 December 2010, 19:00 (repeated 12 December 2010, 09:30)

The X Factor Final was the climax of the seventh series of this popular talent show.

While viewers waited for the voting to be concluded and the announcement of the name of the act which had made it through to the Sunday final show, the programme featured two well known singers. One, Rihanna, performed her latest song, What's My Name , at 20:32 in a dress which was removed by a dancer during the performance to reveal a strapless top and high waisted pants. Later at 20:47 Christina Aguilera sang the song Express from the film Burlesque in which she stars. This featured the singer with a number of dancers performing in a burlesque- style of dance and dress.

Ofcom received 2,868 complaints that the performances by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera were too sexually explicit for broadcast before the 21:00 watershed. Some considered that The X Factor was a family show and that the content of both performances was not suitable for children to view before the watershed. With reference to both performances complainants commented that they [Rihanna and Christina Aguilera] performed in a very sexual manner and the content was too sexually explicit and inappropriate for the young audience of this show . With specific reference to Christina Aguilera's performance, complainants expressed concern that: the dancing, costumes and tone were sexually explicit and at odds with the watershed which should seek to protect children from sexualisation and there were extremely revealing background dancers performing indecent dance moves .

Approximately 2,000 of the 2,868 complaints about this programme were received following coverage about the performances in a daily national newspaper. The newspaper coverage reported on concerns that the performances were too explicit for a family programme, and included a number of still images of the performances. However, from a comparison of the images it is clear that the photographs that were published in the newspaper were significantly more graphic and close-up than the material that had been broadcast in the programme, and had been taken from a different angle to the television cameras. Readers of the newspaper would have therefore been left with the impression that the programme contained significantly more graphic material than had actually been broadcast.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.3: Children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...

Ofcom Decision: Not in Breach...Just...

In considering this case, Ofcom took into account that The X Factor is a Saturday night programme which many families sit down together to watch.

Rihanna's performance

With reference to Rihanna's performance (which commenced at 20:32), Ofcom noted that she began in a long wrap-around dress and approximately half way through the routine the dress was removed by a dancer to reveal a strapless top and high- waisted pants.

Rhianna's dance routine had some mildly sexual overtones and included images of her gyrating and rocking her buttocks. However, it was largely shot at a wide angle to show all of the dancers on the stage and from a distance. Where there were close ups of Rhianna, these focussed on her front or her head and shoulders, not her exposed back. Additionally, the camera panned quickly and continuously throughout the performance, resulting in the shots of the individual dance movements of both Rihanna and her dancers being very brief.

Ofcom was therefore of the view that, taken as a whole, the performance by Rihanna was presented in a style which would not have exceeded the likely expectations of the audience either on 11 December between 20:30 and 21:00 or the following morning from 09:30. With reference to the content, the performer and the dancers were in Ofcom's opinion adequately dressed with clothing covering their buttocks. The part of the dance routine which featured some gentle thrusting of the buttocks by Rihanna was in keeping with her performing style, suitably limited and brief in duration, and in Ofcom's view was suitable for a pre-watershed audience.

Ofcom concluded therefore that this material was appropriately scheduled and the broadcaster complied with Rule 1.3.

Christina Aguilera's performance

Ofcom considered that this performance taken as a whole was sexualised in nature to some extent. The outfits of some of the dancers were revealing, with limited coverage of the buttocks, and were of a sexualised nature because they were based on lingerie such as basques, stockings and suspenders. The outfits, taken together with dance positions featuring thrusting buttocks and women bent over chairs, resulted in a routine which aimed to reflect the essence of burlesque but contained sexualised elements. Taken individually, some of these images may not be uncommon in programmes broadcast pre-watershed. The routine however had a number of simultaneous, sexualised elements concentrated into a relatively short period of time and there was therefore a cumulative effect.

We note the explanation given by Channel TV that its control over the detailed nature of the performance itself was limited in this case. In such circumstances, broadcasters must take particular care to employ other measures to retain independence of editorial control. In this case, we acknowledge that Channel TV had sought to minimise the potential for offence by taking other measures, such as particular camera angles. Therefore, while the dancers did adopt some sexualised positions intermittently as described above, Ofcom noted that shots of these poses were fleeting, as is expected in a fast paced routine. Additionally, the performance was largely shot at a wide angle to show all of the dancers on the stage and from a distance – minimising the potential impact.

Importantly, throughout the routine there were no close-up shots of individual dancers so the viewer was not drawn to any one dancer's clothing or actions in detail. The dancers were in effect a backdrop to Christina Aguilera, who was not wearing similar clothing or following the same dance routine. For all these reasons, the impact of the dancers on-screen was significantly lessened.

Ofcom considered that there was editorial justification for the type of costumes that the dancers were wearing, and the style of the dance routine overall. They reflected the burlesque-theme and storyline of the feature film Burlesque in which Christina Aguilera starred, and which was shortly due to go on general cinematic release at the time of this broadcast. However, the overtly sexual nature of the burlesque-style routine of the dancers was, in Ofcom's view, nevertheless clearly capable of causing offence to some viewers and we considered that this content was at the very margin of acceptability for broadcast before the 21:00 watershed, and especially when broadcast on 12 December 2011 at 09:30. However, on balance, and taking all matters into consideration, including the steps taken by Channel TV to minimise the potential for offence, Ofcom was of the view that this performance was not in breach of Rule 1.3 of the Code.

Ofcom concluded however that the performance was sufficiently justified by the context in which it was presented. In particular the performance was within the likely expectations of the audience for pre-watershed programmes. The broadcaster therefore applied generally accepted standards and Rule 2.3 was not breached.

Ofcom will shortly be issuing new guidance about the acceptability of material in pre- watershed programmes that attract large family viewing audiences. We will also be requesting that broadcasters who transmit such programming attend a meeting at Ofcom to discuss the compliance of such material.

Not in Breach of Rules 1.3 and 2.3

Offsite Comment: This is what Ofcom calls 'acceptable'

23rd April 2011. See  article from

One blonde dancer is dressed, if that's the word, in a low-cut basque while striking a lewd pose that leaves nothing to the imagination. Another in skimpy bra, suspenders and stockings leans provocatively over a chair while others leer suggestively into the camera.

The scantily-clad women formed part of the sleazy performance by Christina Aguilera during last year's controversial final of ITV's X Factor. Family friendly? A blonde dancer strikes a raunchy pose that leaves little to the imagination

TV watchdog Ofcom this week ruled that explicit routines by Miss Aguilera and fellow pop star Rihanna were at the limit of acceptability for broadcast before 9pm for a family audience.

But, to the astonishment of many, the media regulator said they did not breach broadcasting rules.

Instead, the regulator rebuked the Daily Mail, saying that some 2,000 of the 2,868 complaints it received followed our coverage of the sexual content of a programme which horrified parents and politicians. Ofcom claimed the Mail used images that suggested the talent show contained significantly more graphic material than had actually been broadcast . Now readers can judge for themselves.

...Read the full article

Comment: Mediawatch-UK

28th April 2011.  See  article from

Vivienne Pattison, of Mediawatch-UK said:

During the last 10 years, it seems the watershed has quietly been eroded. So much so, that Christina Aguilera's sexual X Factor routine was recently cleared by the broadcasting watchdog of being inappropriate for a young audience.

Ofcom did say it was 'at the very margin of acceptability', but it does make you wonder what they would have to do to breach the guidelines. The argument goes that society has changed and, therefore, what's acceptable on television has changed.

However, in recent years, far too much emphasis has been placed on 'freedom of expression' with little or no emphasis on the corresponding responsibilities.

Offsite Comment: An Irish View

30th April 2011. See  article from

The next time you see Christina Aguilera on The X Factor, she will likely be dressed as a nun (and not the perved-up Lady Gaga variety).

Christina-gate is big news in Britain, where Right-wing commentators are of the view that an entire generation risks being corrupted by the sight of Aguilera slow-grinding up against a chair. Which raises the question: has anyone in the UK ever heard of the internet?

The notion that the most scandalous image a young person is likely to see today is a semi-clad pop singer is beyond ludicrous. Five minutes trawling the web will reveal images that make Christina look like a Saturday morning TV presenter from 1979.

...Read the full article


21st April   

Update: Celebrity Judge...

Yet another gagging order with an even more far reaching scope
Link Here

A High Court judge has issued an unprecedented gagging order in an attempt to prevent details of a television star's private life being published, even on the internet.

Mr Justice Eady, who has been at the centre of most recent controversial libel and privacy cases, made the injunction against the world rather than just against national newspapers and broadcasters.

His order seeks to prevent the publication of intimate photographs of a married public figure after a woman tried to sell them for a large sum of money .

The judge said the woman owed the unidentified claimant a duty of confidence and breaching his privacy would damage the health of the man and his family.

His order is intended to cover discussion of the case online as well as in traditional media, despite the difficulties in enforcing it.

The injunction contra mundum is intended to be never-ending and, as its Latin name suggests, applies to the entire world.

It is understood that it is the first time that such an order has been granted in a privacy case.

The ruling takes secrecy laws to a new level, marking a further advance in the steps the courts are prepared to take to protect high-profile figures and to restrict the right to freedom of expression.


21st April   

What a Load of Buttocks...

Ofcom whinge at buttocks in a Fio Rada music video
Link Here

Music Video: Flo Rida - Turn Around (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)
4Music, UK Hot 40, daytime
Also MTV Base and MTV Dance, daytime

4Music is a music and general entertainment channel broadcasting mainly chart music, including pop and R&B/Urban. The channel is owned and operated by Box Television Ltd.

4Music broadcast a music video by the artist Flo Rida for the song Turn Around (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) . This video was broadcast at various times before the watershed, including at 14:00 and 18:00.

The video was set in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and included images of female dancers wearing both carnival dress and revealing thong bikinis. The dancers were shown dancing in a carnival style in the streets and dancing on the beach in their swimwear. While doing so they were shown bending over with their buttocks to camera, and repeatedly shaking and playfully slapping their buttocks.

Ofcom noted that throughout the four minute video there were almost 20 very close up shots of the dancers? buttocks (both while they were wearing carnival dress and while dancing in their bikinis on the beach). During the video a female dancer, who was wearing a thong bikini (and not carnival dress), was shown dancing very closely up against Flo Rida and touching his naked upper body. While she danced in this manner, Flo Rida was shown miming repeatedly slapping the female dancer on her buttocks in a playful manner.

Ofcom received three complaints from viewers who were concerned about the broadcast of this music video. One of the complainants described the video as extreme crudeness and filth and another said I was shocked to see women in thongs and bras gyrating and basically dry humping men in this video . Another complainant said that the video was a sexist and offensive video which mostly comprises women in thong bikini bottoms acting in a pornographic manner . All of the complainants were concerned that the video was broadcast before the watershed and at the time when children are most likely to watch TV . One complainant said …this objectification of women at such an early time and on a channel that appeals to young people really concerns me.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.3: Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

Box Television said that as with many RnB and pop videos, this video could be said to contain a sexual tone and innuendo. However, whilst the video features female dancers wearing thong bikinis and Carnival attire, synonymous with Brazilian Carnival, there is no nudity, inappropriate touching of the dancers or explicit sexual display .

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3

Under the Communications Act 2003 ( the Act ), Ofcom has a statutory duty to require the application, in the case of all television and radio services of standards that provide adequate protection to members of the public from the inclusion of offensive and harmful material.

Ofcom also has a duty to set such standards for the content of programmes as appear to it best calculated to secure the standards objectives, one of which is that persons under the age of eighteen are protected .

The video included images of the dancers dancing in a very provocative manner, such as repeatedly shaking their bare buttocks to camera, bending over to camera and playfully slapping their bare buttocks. In addition the dancers were shown dancing closely up against the rapper Flo Rida and touching his naked chest while he repeatedly mimed slapping one dancer on the buttocks. The video also included around 20 close up and intrusive shots of the female dancers? buttocks, some of which were when they were bent over or had their legs apart as part of their dancing. Therefore for much of the video the dancers? faces could not be seen. Ofcom also considered that some of the lyrics of the song Turn Around (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) contained some sexual innuendo (for example, Oh-oh baby, you want some more baby? I love the way you do it cos you do it so crazy… ).

In Ofcom's view, the cumulative effect of the repeated close up images of the female dancers' buttocks, together with some of the provocative dancing and actions in the video, resulted in the video's imagery conveying a highly sexualised theme.

The fact that these images were mainly shown while the dancers were wearing bikinis on the beach, rather than in traditional carnival dress, increased the sexualised nature of the imagery and detracted from the editorial justification put forward by the broadcaster for the inclusion of these images.

Given the above, it is Ofcom's view that the content of this particular music video was not suitable for children. While the material did not contain any explicit sexual images, it nevertheless conveyed a highly sexualised theme for the reasons set out above. Further, it is our view that this particular video contained more sexualised images, and in particular close up and intrusive shots of the dancers' bare buttocks, than would normally be expected in a music video of this genre, broadcast at a time when children were likely to be watching.

We therefore concluded that the material breached Rule 1.3.


16th April   

Update: Standing Up for British Humour...

Stephen Fry organises benefit gig to help Paul Chambers appeal his conviction for tweeting a supposedly menacing joke
Link Here

  Comedian Stephen Fry has said he is prepared to go to prison over the Twitter joke trial. Fry was appearing at a benefit gig for Paul Chambers who is appealing to the High Court against his conviction for sending a supposedly menacing communication. He had tweeted: Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week... otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!

The benefit gig, at London's Bloomsbury Theatre, aimed to raise funds for Chambers' appeal. Freedom of speech. Among the other celebrities lending their support to the fundraising evening were Al Murray, Rufus Hound, Katy Brand and Father Ted writer Graham Linehan.

Fry argued that Chambers' tweet was an example of Britain's tradition of self-deprecating humour and banter. Appeal funds This [verdict] must not be allowed to stand in law, Fry said, adding that he would continue to repeat Chambers' message and face prison if that's what it takes .

Chambers' lawyer, David Allen Green, also addressed the audience, briefing them on the key details of his case. 'Speak freely' Although he was careful not to criticise the courts, he said the decision to find his client guilty does not make me proud to be an officer of the court . We should be able to have banter. We should be able to speak freely without the threat of legal coercion.

Chambers' appeal is likely to go before the High Court later this year.


16th April   

Updated: A Burning Challenge to Democracy...

Election candidate gets Koran burning charges dropped
Link Here
Full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

A British National Party election candidate accused of publicly burning a copy of the Koran has been freed after the charge against him was unexpectedly dropped. He had uploaded a video of his burning a Koran in a private garage saying : I am burning the Holy Koran and I hope that you Muslims are watching.

Sion Owens was arrested and charged at the weekend under Section 29 (probably meant Section 4A) of the the much abused Public Order Act. The BNP candidate in next month's Welsh Assembly elections spent the weekend in custody.

He has been warned that police are continuing to investigate the alleged incident and to expect further action. It is understood that his release was due to a technicality regarding the Act under which he was arrested and charged.

Offsite Update: Koran burning was on a private video and was not made public

16th April 2011. Based on article from by Patrick Hayes

Something very odd happened at the weekend. A 40-year-old member of the far-right British National Party (BNP) was arrested for burning a copy of the Koran in his own back garden. Yes, it is apparently now a crime to express your disdain for a certain religious faith in the privacy of your own home. But that's not the end of it. What makes this case especially odd is that the man in question - Sion Owens - was reported to the police by a broadsheet newspaper that claims to be liberal: the Observer. Since when has it been the job of the respectable, left-leaning press to grass people up to the cops for alleged speech crimes?

When spiked looked into this strange story, we discovered that there are some major disagreements at the Observer in relation to it. The crime correspondent defended the Observer's actions, but one of the paper's top columnists questioned the wisdom of reporting a private expression of ideas to the authorities.

Owens, a senior member of the BNP who lives in south Wales, does seem to be an odd individual. Going into his garden, placing a Koran in a metal Quality Street box, dousing it with flammable liquid and then setting it alight while a colleague filmed him - it was a stupid and childish act. However, it was done in a private garden. So regardless of the fact that it was videoed, this was a form of private expression, and therefore none of the state's business.

...Read the full article


11th April   

Update: Nutters See Sexualisation Everywhere...

Preliminary releases from the review, Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood
Link Here

  Historically sexualised

The review, Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood,  is due out next month. It claims that nine out of 10 parents think that their children are growing up too quickly because of increasing sexualisation and commercial pressures, mainly from the internet and television.

The review has found that direct advertising through mobile phones was the marketing tool that most angered parents, with 35% believing it wrong. Products linked to social networking websites which invite children to click on them were second on the list of features to upset parents.

Although mothers and fathers want their children to have a mobile phone for safety and social reasons, they now realise it leaves them powerless to stop access to inappropriate internet sites, including pornography, the review claimed.

The review, conducted by Reg Bailey, the chief executive of Mothers' Union, a Christian charity, has also claimed growing concerns about the exposure of children to sex on television.

In a poll of 1,000 parents, the review has found 41% said that in the previous three months they had seen television programmes or advertisements before the 9pm watershed that they considered wrong for their children to view because of their sexual content. 40% said they had seen window displays or advertising hoardings inappropriate for children.

Bailey is unlikely to call for new legislation, but will argue that the process for parents to lodge complaints should be strengthened and simplified.

Parents concerns are said to include:

  • Children are growing up to quickly and behaving in an overtly sexual manner before they are old enough to really understand what sexually provocative behaviour means.
  • Celebrity culture, adult style clothes and music videos are encouraging children to act older than they are.
  • Lack of responsibility from business and government in allowing advertising to children.
  • Too many clothes, toys, games, music videos or other products that are inappropriate for the age group they were aimed at.
  • The use of phone and text adverts when promoting products for children.
  • The increasing pressure to buy non-essential items for their children so they don't feel left out.
  • Public places (shop window displays, advertising hoardings) that they felt were inappropriate for children to see because of their sexual content.
  • Programmes or adverts on TV before 9pm watershed that they felt were unsuitable or inappropriate for children due to their sexual content.


8th April   

Update: 'Offensive' Terrorism?...

Government advertise website to report terrorism and extremism on the internet
Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Information leaflets and posters have been sent to every police force in the UK advising the public on how to identify and report offensive or illegal terrorism related content.

Security minister, Baroness Neville-Jones, said that it's vital that online extremism is taken seriously: I want to encourage those who come across extremist websites as part of their work to challenge it and report it through the DirectGov webpage.

By forging relationships with the internet industry and working with the public in this way, we can ensure that terrorist use of the internet does not go unchallenged.

Websites reported to Directgov via its online form are referred to the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit. The specialist team of police experts work with industry and partners in the UK and abroad to investigate and take down illegal or offensive material if necessary.

In the last year, reporting through Directgov has led the government to remove content which has included beheading videos, terrorist training manuals and calls for racial or religious violence.

The Reporting extremism and terrorism online website defines what content is of interest:

What makes offensive content illegal

Not all offensive content is illegal.

The Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006 made it illegal to:

  • have or share information that could be useful to terrorists
  • share information that urges people to commit or help with acts of terrorism
  • glorify or praise terrorism

Examples of what makes terrorist or extremist content illegal are:

  • speeches or essays calling for racial or religious violence
  • videos of violence with messages of praise for the attackers
  • chat forums with postings calling for people to commit acts of terrorism
  • messages intended to stir up hatred against any religious or ethnic group
  • instructions on how to make weapons, poisons or bombs


5th April   

Offsite: Awesomely Bad Policing...

Operation Ore was based on flawed evidence from the start
Link Here

Britain's biggest ever computer crime investigation, Operation Ore, was flawed by a catalogue of discrepancies, errors and uncertainties , disclosed reports of two national police conferences seen by The Register reveal.

The police memoranda show that within months of the operation launching in April 2002, detectives who forensically examined computers taken from suspects' homes in dawn raids found files showing that the main evidence used in Operation Ore was wrong. The evidence, it was claimed, showed that over 7,000 British-based subscribers had purchased access to child pornography websites.

At a national police conference held in a Pimlico hotel in February 2003, local police forces warned that claims made by the National Crime Squad (NCS), in control of the operation, had gone pear-shaped .

...Read the full article

Judge hits police with massive bill over false Operation Ore charges

Based on article from

A man wrongly accused in Britain's largest ever child pornography investigation has won [ £ 20,000] damages in the High Court after an eight-year legal battle.

Jeremy Clifford, 51, from Watford, was arrested and falsely charged in 2003 as part of Operation Ore. His credit card details had been found among those of thousands of British people on a list maintained by Landslide, a commercial provider of illegal pornography based in the US.

Hertfordshire Constabulary seized a computer that had belonged to Mr Clifford and discovered 10 illegal thumbnail images in its temporary internet files folder.

However, a senior High Court judge found on Friday that the arresting officer had been told by a computer forensics expert that the images were not sufficient evidence to charge.

The images could have been received unsolicited by and even without the knowledge of the operator of the computer, for example as 'pop-ups', said Mr Justice Mackay.

Despite this, the officer, Detective Constable Brian Hopkins, pressed three charges of possession of indecent images of children. Mr Justice Mackay said he cut a rather pathetic figure in the witness box, having initially claimed he could not give evidence because of a psychiatric condition.

The judge found that Mr Hopkins, who has since left policing, not only had no honest belief in the possession charges when he caused them to be brought against [Mr Clifford] , but did so to protect his own position .

Update: Background

16th April 2011. See  article from
See also Instrumental in the case was the cross examination of Mr Hopkins [pdf] from

In a six day trial, before Mr Justice Mackay, in the High Court, the judge found that the prosecution against Mr Clifford for the offences of possessing child pornography was maliciously motivated.

The police officer in the case had been told specifically that he had no case against the Claimant by the police expert because there was no evidence that the Claimant knew about the images which had been found his computer. Indeed the expert evidence in the officers possession made it clear that the images were small thumbnail 'pop ups', which had made their way onto the computer as a result of malware. Yet despite this the suppressed this evidence from the Claimant's criminal defence team and pursued prosecution. He even threw in additional charges to add weight to the indictment despite the fact that the officer knew this was completely improper.

In particular the Judge found that Mr Hopkins, the officer in the case had no honest belief in the Claimant's guilt and that he had no reasonable and proper cause, either on the basis of his own honest intent or judged objectively by the standards of a reasonable prosecutor in his position to charge the Claimant with the possession offences.

It was further found that Mr Hopkins made a decision to conceal that which he knew at the time of charging from the CPS, that he lied to his superiors about consulting the CPS before charge and that he inflated the charges in order to give them additional weight.


4th April   

Offsite: Hyper-Secrecy...

New gagging orders stretch right into the heart of parliament
Link Here

Ways have to be found to guarantee privacy and provide protection from malicious allegations, but these oppressive court orders are not the answer

The revelation by the Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming of a new breed of hyperinjunction , which forbids the recipient talking about it to MPs, is one of the most disturbing developments in the contest between legitimate privacy and the need for open justice.

In an age when accusations can be made anonymously on the internet, ways have to be found to guarantee privacy and provide protection from malicious allegations, but these oppressive court orders are not the answer. As the Times said, there are at least 30 orders blocking publicity in high-profile cases, as well as a new type of order -- the hyperinjunction -- which affects parliamentary privilege by preventing discussion between an MP and his constituent.

...Read the full article


1st April   

The Great Firewall of Britain...

Ed Vaizey confirms plans for a website blocking scheme
Link Here

Minister Ed Vaizey has confirmed to Open Rights Group that Government ministers are talking to copyright lobby groups and ISPs about a voluntary “Great Firewall of Britain” website blocking scheme.  We need you to act now.

They want to block websites that music and film companies accuse of copyright infringement. 

But a 'self regulatory' censorship scheme places decisions about what you can and cannot look at online in the hands of businesses. It would remove the vital judicial oversight required by existing powers. Inevitable mistakes would lead to the censorship and disruption of legitimate traffic from businesses, publishers and citizens. And there is little evidence it will have any beneficial effects for the creative economy.

The good news is that the Minister has promised to include civil society groups in future discussions. We need to be there to counter the pressure rights holders are exerting on decision makers.

You can do your bit by letting your MPs know that website blocking is not acceptable and that the voice of civil society needs to be part of the discussions. Please email them now to tell them to oppose web blocking.

Read more on the legal and technical background here

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