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2013: April-June

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Offsite Article: Banning of Geller and Spencer from UK will only build grievance...

Link Here 28th June 2013
Britain's bar on anti-Muslim activists travelling to the country could do more harm than good, says Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorship

See article from



Update: Grinning and Baring It...

Sun's Page 3 set to continue under the new editor

Link Here27th June 2013
Full story: Page 3 Girls...Miserable campaigners whinge about page 3 fun

  David Dinsmore , the new Sun editor, has vowed to continue printing pictures of topless women on Page 3 as it is a good way of selling newspapers .

Speaking on the radio station LBC 97.3 on Wednesday morning, Dinsmore said that Page 3 would remain in the paper despite growing criticism from campaigners. He was speaking of a new exhibition of erotic Japanese paintings at the British Museum in London and said:

This is Japanese art -- Spring Pictures as it's euphemistically called. It's given the editor of the Times the opportunity to put a naked Japanese lady on page 3, which as we know is a good way of selling newspapers.

Asked whether Page 3 was safe under the Sun s new editorship, Dinsmore said:

It is, it is, yes I can tell you that.

He later told BBC Radio 5 Live:

Page 3 stays. We did a survey last year and found that two thirds of our readers wanted to keep Page 3. What you find is people who are against Page 3 have never read the Sun and would never read the Sun.

As far as the exposure goes, it's on Page 3, it's not on the cover. I was flicking through a copy of this month's Vogue and there's Kate Moss topless. I suspect the editor of Vogue won't be questioned on whether topless pictures are on its pages. I think we've got to keep a sense of proportionality about this.



Offsite Article: Empire is on the hunt for porn...

Link Here8th June 2013
A day with the BBFC

See article from



Taking the Offensive...

Index on Censorship find widespread self-censorship and fear of causing offence which is suppressing creativity and ideas in the UK

Link Here2nd June 2013

Widespread self-censorship and fear of causing offence is suppressing creativity and ideas in the United Kingdom, according to a report published by Index on Censorship.

The findings are based on the January 2013 conference Taking the Offensive -- defending artistic freedom of expression in the UK , the first national debate about the social, political and legal challenges to artistic freedom of expression. It brought together arts leaders with senior police, lawyers, media and internet executives, religious commentators and arts funders to explore challenges to artists and the growth of self-censorship in contemporary culture.

There are multiple pressures on artistic freedom of expression and censorship has become a major issue for the arts sector in this country, the report reveals . Among the key findings:

  • Widespread self-censorship at an institutional level is suppressing creativity and ideas, with some artists from black and ethnic communities experiencing additional obstacles

  • Worries about public and media outrage or the loss of funding if they cause offence are causing many cultural institutions to be overly cautious in their choice of work at commission and production stages

  • The fear of police intervention or legal action is fuelled by a lack of information about the legal framework around freedom of expression

Some of the pressures on artistic free expression in the UK can be explained by a climate of caution and security consciousness. A preoccupation with risk assessment in arts organisations and public institutions, including the police, can lead to a prevalence of uncontentious, safe programming that limits both the range of voices and the space for artistic expression.



Offsite Article: The facts and the fantasy...

Link Here30th May 2013
Exposure to explicit sexual violence doesn't mean teenagers will be prone to copying it in the bedroom

See article from



11 people arrested for comments on Facebook and Twitter...

Presumably inciting religious hatred can now be added to the charge sheet of the Woolwich terrorists

Link Here 26th May 2013

The murder of soldier Lee Rigby has unsurprisingly provoked a backlash of anger across the UK, including the attacking of mosques, racial abuse and comments made on social media. Eleven people have been arrested around Britain for making racist or anti-religious comments on Twitter following the brutal killing in Woolwich.

The incident has also prompted a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents, according to the organisation Faith Matters, which works to reduce extremism. Before the attack about four to eight cases a day were reported to its helpline. But the group said about 150 incidents had been reported in the last few days, including attacks on mosques.

Two men from Bristol, were held under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred. Detective Inspector Ed Yaxley of Avon and Somerset Police said:

These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol.

Surrey Police said a man has been charged in connection with comments placed on a social media website following the murder of the soldier. Superintendent Matt Goodridge said:

Surrey Police will not tolerate language used in a public place, including on social media websites, which causes harassment, alarm or distress.

A Hastings man has been charged by police after allegedly posting an offensive message on Facebook.

Meanwhile, a Southsea woman has been charged with allegedly sending a grossly offensive message on Facebook, an offence contrary to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

Police have also arrested three people ahead of an EDL protest for allegedly making racist tweets.



Waiting to Be Read...

Amanda Knox memoir will not be published in the UK due to libel laws

Link Here27th April 2013

Britain's libel laws have prevented the UK publication of Amanda Knox's account of the murder of Meredith Kercher, according to the book's publisher. Publication of the memoir, Waiting to be Heard , is due to go ahead as scheduled in the US, Canada and Australia on Tuesday.

HarperCollins UK had been due to publish the book early next month but has pulled out over fears of legal action. A spokesman said:

Due to our legal system, and relying upon advice from our counsel, HarperCollins UK will not publish a British edition of Waiting to Be Heard, by Amanda Knox, at this time.

The publisher is concerned that the UK's stringent libel laws mean that it could run into legal difficulties because a retrial of Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, has been ordered by Italian authorities. In addition, the publisher is closely monitoring a number of libel cases in Italy where police and authorities are suing Knox and her parents for defamation for claims made in the press about how she was treated and and her interrogation about the murder.

UK readers will be able to buy the US book online.



Update: Political Interference...

Major newspapers reject the newspaper censor proposed by political parties

Link Here26th April 2013
Full story: UK News Censor...UK proposes state controlled news censor

The majority of the newspaper industry, made up of five of the country's largest press groups, have rejected cross-party plans for newspaper censorship and launched a bid to set up their own royal charter-backed body.

News International, the publisher of the Sun and Times, the Telegraph Media Group, the Daily Mail's publisher Associated Newspapers, Trinity Mirror and Express Newspapers published a draft royal charter saying they rejected the stitch-up put together by the three political parties.

The newspapers said the original government royal charter unveiled on 15 March and endorsed by parliament:

Has no support within the press. A number of its recommendations are unworkable and it gives politicians an unacceptable degree of interference in the regulation of the press.

David Cameron said he was very happy to look at the proposals and his aides said he needed time to examine the gaps between what the parties had agreed and the industry was proposing.

But a spokesman for the culture department stood firm by the original plans endorsed by the Commons and Lords:

We want to see a tough, independent self-regulator implemented swiftly. The royal charter published on 18 March followed 21 weeks of discussion and has cross-party agreement.



Update: Contracting Out of Libel Restrictions...

House of Lords passes watered down bill that still includes many welcome reforms to UK libel law

Link Here24th April 2013
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Laws that led to London being dubbed the libel capital of the world will be reformed after peers in the Lords voted to pass the defamation bill, ending a three-year campaign led by Liberal Democrat peers Lord McNally and Lord Lester.

Libel reform campaigners said they were delighted overall that defamation reform was finally passing into law, although they were disappointed by the failure of a bid to bar private companies contracted to run schools, prisons or healthcare from suing ordinary citizens who criticised the work they do for the taxpayer. In the end it was the Lib Dems and Tories that did the dirty and killed some of the valuable reforms.

However, the bill is a landmark piece of legislation and should provide more protection for individuals and organisations, including newspapers and broadcasters, which criticise big companies.

The new law will also stop cases being taken in London against journalists, academics or individuals who live outside the country, denting the libel tourism industry, but not ending it altogether, as foreigners will still be able to lodge claims in the high court.

The bill will now return to the Commons on Wednesday for formal approval with no possibility of fresh amendments.

Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship said she was delighted that corporations will now have to prove financial loss before they sue for libel but added it was a pity the government voted against Labour's amendment to stop public money being used to stop citizen critics .

Comment: Victory for free speech as libel bill passes

25th April 2013. See  article from

Today, 24 April, saw history made. The UK parliament has passed a new Defamation Bill, which will now go on to Royal Assent. A major victory against censorship in Britain and beyond has been won, with England's notorious libel laws changed in favour of free speech.

The new law protects free speech. There is a hurdle to stop vexatious cases. We now have a bar on libel tourism so non-EU claimants will now need to prove that harm has been done here. For the first time there will be a statutory public interest defence that will ask defendants to prove they have acted reasonably (a better test than the more burdensome Reynold's test of responsible publication). There is also a hurdle to stop corporations from suing unless they can prove financial harm.

...Read the full article



Updated: Free Expression...Except on TV...

European Court rules in favour of Britain's broadcast ban on political advertising

Link Here23rd April 2013

Britain may be forced to lift its ban on broadcasting political advertising when the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rules on its lawfulness tomorrow.

The campaign group Animal Defenders International (ADI) was told it could not run adverts highlighting the plight of caged primates. Because the organisation was not a charity, it was treated as a political group. ADI said this was a breach of its right to freedom of expression and appealed against the decision. The final ruling in its attempts to overturn the ban on its adverts will be handed down tomorrow.

If ADI is successful, the Government will have to amend the laws regarding political advertising or even lift the ban altogether.

The ECHR has overturned similar bans in Norway and Switzerland. Jacob Rowbottom, a fellow in constitutional law at University College, Oxford, said:

It seems very likely that they will find the complete blanket ban on paid political advertising to violate freedom of expression.

Update: Political adverts will continue to be banned

23rd April 2013.  See  article from
See also 'political' chimp advert from YouTube
See also ECHR Judgement from
See also Strasbourg ties itself in knots over advertising ban from

An animal rights group has narrowly lost an attempt to end the broadcast ban on paid political advertising in the UK.

Human rights judges in Strasbourg ruled in a 9-8 test case verdict that Government refusal to allow Animal Defenders International to screen a TV advert promoting animal rights was not a breach of ADI's freedom of expression.

The Strasbourg judges declared:

The court noted that both parties (ADI and the Government) maintained that they were protecting the democratic process.

It found in particular that the reviews of the ban by both parliamentary and judicial bodies had been exacting and pertinent, taking into account the European Court's case law.

The judges said the ban only applied to advertising and ADI had access to alternative media, both broadcast and non-broadcast .

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