UK News

 2014: July-Sept



 Extract: Subterraneanean London...

Book thankfully escapes censorship and persecution at the hands of the British Transport Police


Link Here 26th September 2014
Subterranean London Cracking Bradley Garrett Subterranean London: Cracking the Capital by Bradley L. Garrett (Compiler), Stephen Walter (Illustrator), Will Self (Foreword)

Promotional Material

Bradley L. Garrett is researcher at the University of Oxford. His writing and photography has been featured in media around the world. Garrett is the author of Explore Everything: Place-Hacking the City. Will Self is a London-based journalist and the author of nine novels. His most recent book, Umbrella, was published in paperback in April 2013. Stephen Walter is an obsessive draftsman educated at the Royal College of Art. His interest in the semiotics and the phenomenon of place often finds form in hand-drawn maps.

See  article from  citylab.com

Bradley L Garrett and his colleagues thought of their explorations and photographs as a form of public service. We were going to take photographs of parts of the city that people don't normally see and share them with the public.

The British Transport Police saw the situation differently.

In August 2012, upon returning to England from Cambodia , Garrett's plane was stopped on the runway at Heathrow. British Transport Police boarded, handcuffed him, and escorted him off the plane. He was taken through passport control, where officials seized his passport and then placed him in custody for 24 hours.

Elsewhere, police took a battering ram to the front door of his London home and confiscated his property, including his phone and the entire contents of his filing cabinet, research notes and all. Authorities also raided the homes of ten other people, identified from reading Garrett's ethnographic Ph.D. thesis on urban exploration.

Over the next two years, the defendants could not leave the country. Relationships fizzled out. Job contracts were cut short. Garrett didn't see his family and was denied permission to attend the funeral of a friend, journalist Matthew Power, who passed away in Uganda in March.

When the case finally came to court this year, it collapsed within two weeks. As The Guardian reported, Garrett pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal damage to railway property and avoided jail.

...Read the full article featuring some excellent photos from the book

 

 Update: Dangerous chats in Kent - yet again...

Obscenity law being dangerously used to police private, if reprehensible, text messages


Link Here 26th September 2014  full story: Obscene Private Chat...Extending OPA to private internet chat

Kent Police According to recent news reports, a former male nurse who is an American citizen living now in Kent had allegedly fantasised in a US-based fetish chat room about raping, killing and eating young girls and women. After he supposedly tried to take his fantasy into real life and meet up in Ashford with someone he believed was a 14 year old girl in order to kill and eat her , he was arrested and charged with various offences. It was revealed in court that the FBI had been monitoring the man after he had chatted online two years ago about his cannibal fetish to a New York Police Department officer who was himself under investigation, and as a result the Kent police had been informed.

The man was subsequently found guilty of a grooming offence, but he also pleaded guilty to various other charges, including 7 counts of publishing an obscene article , which related specifically to the online chats he had taken part in. This should jog people's memories somewhat, as it harks back to a case brought by (guess who?) Kent police in 2010. Here, a man was charged with the same offence for online chats involving fantasies about raping and murdering children. This sparked an outcry at the time among the more libertarian-minded as it had been accepted for over 30 years that purely written material (as opposed to illustrated works), no matter what its subject matter or content, was no longer to be regarded as obscene.

So, what exactly is going on here? Well, a few years prior to this, during the public consultation about the extreme porn law now enacted by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, the Kent police made a submission that there remained ...a legislative gap in terms of written fantasy material specifically about child rape and murder , and so in their opinion the proposed law should be extended to cover extreme written material as well as images. Up to this point, the police were acting responsibly and within their remit in flagging up to Parliament what they believed to be a gap in the law, but Parliament disagreed with them, and that should have been that. However, since then it appears that Kent police have been adopting a different approach and trying instead to push the boundaries of the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) in an attempt to secure convictions for such extreme material.

As far as I am aware (and as someone who is not a member of the legal profession, my awareness in these matters only reaches as far as the public media), these attempts by Kent police have so far only managed to achieve guilty pleas . This is a very different thing from a guilty verdict as it does not set a legal precedent, but who knows what might happen in the future. No matter what you may think about the depravity or otherwise of the material in question here, it could only take a single guilty verdict to bring the OPA very much back into play for any type of written material, and we will all be worse off if we end up being robbed of our hard-won right to write what we please.

 

 Offsite Article: Unforgotten Crimes...


Link Here 23rd September 2014  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
oxford mail 2013 logo Oxford Mail republishes crime stories censored by Google under the EU's disgraceful 'right to be forgotten'

See article from oxfordmail.co.uk

 

  Unpopular New Kid on the Block...

New UK news censor will have a low key start up on 8th September


Link Here 3rd September 2014
IPSO The Independent Press Standards Organisation ( Ipso ) is to replace the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) on 8 September.

Its chairman, Sir Alan Moses, has evidently written to publishers to confirm the date of launch. There was no official announcement through a press release, and scant details are available so far.

Complainants who contact Ipso in the belief that there have been breaches of the editors' code - the same one as that currently administered by the PCC - will be referred directly to the newspapers and magazines to resolve such complaints.

The publishers of the Guardian , the Independent titles, the London Evening Standard and the Financial Times have not signed up for Ipso. The FT is setting up its own internal regulation system.

A would-be alternative independent regulator, Impress, is in the process of setting up its board. And the recognition panel established by the royal charter, chaired by David Wolfe QC, is also under construction.

 

 Commented: Undue Prominence...

Will censorship of a murder video solve the conflict in Iraq?


Link Here 21st August 2014
james foley killing The video showing the murder of the kidnapped reporter James Foley by Islamic State terrorists has taken on an iconic importance. It is almost as if the video is somehow the cause of a war that has already been raging for sometime.

It is the focus of attention of the entire world. And yet actually watching is now considered to have almost magic powers to convert normal folk into either muslim hating extremists or else else into murderous jihadists. Presumably ordinary people are best letting police, governments, and reporters watch it for them.

So it is somewhat inevitable that there has been a massive call for censorship of the video.

The Metropolitan Police Service provided to news reporters the following statement:

The MPS Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) is investigating the contents of the video that was posted online in relation to the alleged murder of James Foley.

We would like to remind the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating extremist material within the UK may constitute an offence under terrorism legislation.

But it appears that the police have been making it up about the video being illegal to view. David Allen Green has been pursing the police for information about which law makes the viewing illegal. He received not even a pointer to a law that was even vaguely relevent. He concludes:

This was worrying. People need reliable and accurate public information, and they have the right to expect it from the well-funded PR departments of UK police forces. If a police force tells people something is against the law then it should be able to instantly say on demand what that law is. The law should not be made up by press officers as they go along, especially in respect of matters such as terrorism where confidence in law enforcement agencies is crucial.

And in the Daily Mail...

See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

Daily Mail logo This gruesome video is the latest, and perhaps the most shocking, example of what has become known as jihadist porn .

Countless millions of people will have watched the brutal killing of Mr Foley, and other barbaric acts carried out by the Islamic State. I certainly don't regard them all as voyeurs, any more than I see myself as one. But what have we gained? Haven't we, in fact, been damaged in some way?

Bloomberg picks up on discrepancies with showing images of Michael Brown killing...

See  article from  bloomberg.com

bloomberg logo While Twitter is taking pains to remove images of the death of James Foley, the journalist who was beheaded by Islamic militants, some photos of the body of Michael Brown , the teenager who was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri , remains on users' streams. To many on Twitter, images of violence against Foley can be seen as spreading a terrorist's message, while publicizing Brown's death shines a light on a perceived injustice.

The Guardian picks up on Twitter getting into a tangle of selective censorship

See  article from  theguardian.com

The Guardian Twitter has got itself into a tangle. The social network's decision to remove all links to the horrific footage showing the apparent beheading of the photojournalist James Foley is one that most of its users, reasonably, support.

The social network went still further, suspending or banning users who shared the footage or certain stills, following public tweets from the company's CEO, Dick Costolo , that it would take action against such users.

It is hard to think of anyone having a good reason to view or share such barbaric footage, but Twitter's proactive approach reverses a long record of non-intervention.

Banning us from watching this video of a criminal act is a step too far

See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

index logo There is a difference between individuals exercising their right not to view or share a video, and companies such as Twitter -- or indeed the police force -- denying people the right to view it

 

 Offsite Article: Most teenagers think internet pornography is damaging, poll finds...


Link Here 20th August 2014
ioor logo Sounds like the run up to government legislation to mandate internet age verification for porn and to 'teach pornography' in schools

See article from theguardian.com

 

 Update: Commendably Uncooperative...

The Co-op declines to censor the Sun as demanded by PC extremists


Link Here 13th August 2014  full story: Page 3 Girls...Miserable campaigners whinge about page 3 fun
coop logo The Co-op has refused to bow to demands from anti-Page 3 campaigners to withdraw advertising from the Sun newspaper and to banish its sales to the top shelf.

The No More Page 3 campaign had targeted local Coop regional meetings and had won votes to censor the Sun in three southern regions.

The board of Co-operative Food told campaigners that it entirely respects the views of those campaigning to have 'Page 3 ' type images dropped from the Sun and the Star , but said:

We are mindful, in consideration of these motions, of the need to balance the following: our commercial need to market effectively to our customers; our commitment to create a family-friendly shopping environment and the problems associated with using corporate influence via sales, promotions or advertising to seek to influence editorial decisions.

With over 18 million customers using the Co-operative every week and a significant proportion of our target audience, including members, reading the Sun it is vital that our media choices continue to reach this large audience cost effectively.

Removing advertising from the Sun based on what the paper chooses to publish runs the risk of being seen as trying to directly influence editorial decisions and sets a precedent for all publications and media channels in the future.

There is a need to balance, in a free society, press freedom alongside newspapers ' responsibility to deliver accurate, fair and appropriate content.

For these reason we do not use advertising to influence editorial decisions and currently have no plans to change this policy.

The Co-op sells half a million copies of the Sun each week.

 

  Council Censors Thwarted...

A rare piece of good news from the Government. Eric Pickles announces a right to film and report on local council meetings


Link Here 9th August 2014

dept of communities logo In a boost for local democracy and the independent free press, councils in England were brought into the 21st century after Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, signed a Parliamentary order allowing press and public to film and digitally report from all public meetings of local government bodies. This 'right to report' updates a law passed by Margaret Thatcher as a backbench MP.

Following the passage of both primary and secondary legislation, the move opens councils' digital doors, covering broadcasters, national press, local press, bloggers and hyper-local journalists and the wider public. The new law aims to end active resistance amongst some councils to greater openness. Councils have even called the police to arrest people who tried to report, tweet or film council meetings, or claimed spurious 'health and safety' or 'reputational risks' to digital reporting.

This new law builds on Margaret Thatcher's successful Private Members' Bill from 1960 which allowed for the written reporting of council meetings by the press. The new rules will apply to all public meetings, including town and parish councils and fire and rescue authorities.

Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, said:

Half a century ago, Margaret Thatcher championed a new law to allow the press to make written reports of council meetings. We have updated her analogue law for a digital age.

Local democracy needs local journalists and bloggers to report and scrutinise the work of their council, and increasingly, people read their news via digital media. The new 'right to report' goes hand in hand with our work to stop unfair state competition from municipal newspapers - together defending the independent free press.

There is now no excuse for any council not to allow these new rights. Parliament has changed the law, to allow a robust and healthy local democracy. This will change the way people see local government, and allow them to view close up the good work that councillors do.

Further information New rights

The government has published a plain English guide of practical information on how the public can exercise their new rights, and what they should expect from their local government bodies.

The Openness of Local Government Regulations 2014 , which apply to England, give rights to members of the press and public to:

  • use modern technology and communication methods such as filming, audio-recording, blogging and tweeting to report the proceedings of the meetings of their councils and other local government bodies

  • see information relating to significant decisions made outside meetings by officers acting under a general or specific delegated power

 

 Offsite Article: The grumpy gits at the Portman group and the ASA's war on alcohol...


Link Here 28th July 2014  full story: UK Drinks Censor...Portman Group play PC censor for drinks
strange things are happening banner logo Strange Things are Happening at the UK drinks censors

See article from strangethingsarehappening.com

 

 Update: Forgotten Free Speech...

Society of Editors calls on David Cameron to end censorship based on the right to be forgotten


Link Here 24th July 2014  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
The Society of Editors, which has the backing of senior figures at the BBC, Sky News and ITN as well as major newspaper groups, as joined with Index on Censorship and the Media Lawyers Association to call on David Cameron and key EU data protection chiefs to resist censorship in the guise of the right to be forgotten. The Society of Editors has wriiten to David Cameron:

Dear Prime Minister,

society of editors logo The issues about the so-called right to be forgotten raised by the recent European Court judgement involving Google, with its implications for other search engines and accessibility to other journalistic information give us serious cause for concern.

We appreciate that no general right to be forgotten exists, as Ministers and the Information Commissioner have confirmed. The Court ruling is only about restricting access to links generated by search engines in response to name searches. But there is a vital principle at stake which we trust that the Information Commissioner - responsible for adjudicating both data protection and freedom of information in the UK - and the government will defend with vigour.

The judgement makes clear that Europeans now have the right to demand that certain online material is obscured in search results and its dissemination via search engines is stopped. For media organisations and journalists, this is akin to being asked - on the basis of the subjective opinions of individuals, rather than any specific Court order - to remove items from an index in newspaper archives. This is something we would only do after careful consideration based on a sound legal and factual basis and hope never to be asked to do more.

We feel sure that neither the Information Commissioner nor the government would wish to see this happen but we seek assurances that any such moves will be firmly resisted and will not be applied in any new data protection legislation coming out of Europe in the future.

We are concerned that the European Court's judgment goes against Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and certainly the intentions of the UK Parliament when it introduced the Human Rights Act.

With regard to data protection legislation, journalistic work has always received special consideration. We are glad to see that the Court's ruling continues this, and does not require news publishers to remove articles when asked to do so by individuals. This principle must be strongly defended or even enhanced. But the Court's ruling is deeply problematic for journalism in general, as it has the effect of limiting the accessibility and dissemination of journalistic work via search engines, where the media company wishes this to be done. This reduces the visibility of the vital work done by journalists to ensure accountability throughout society, which in itself is contrary to the spirit behind Article 10.

For this reason, we believe that there should be greater transparency about the actions of search engines to comply with the European Court's ruling. Specifically, we believe there should be no restrictions on the ability of Google or other operators to inform the originator of material when links to that material are removed. Any restrictions would prevent publishers having the opportunity to make their case on freedom of expression grounds thus making the process one-sided.

The Society of Editors has more than 400 members in national, regional and local newspapers, magazines, broadcasting and digital media, journalism education and media law. It campaigns for media freedom, self regulation, the public's right to know and the maintenance of standards in journalism. This letter has the full support of the Society's board of directors which includes senior editors from Sky News and the BBC and and key regional newspapers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also has the support of editors of major UK newspapers, including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Guardian, The Independent, the Financial Times, the Daily Express, the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, The Daily Telegraph, and Associated Newspapers as well as ITN.

We would be grateful for your comments about this and your assurances that these principles will be defended.

 

 Offsite Article: Once Upon a Time...


Link Here 24th July 2014
Once Upon Time 3rd Edition Britain was a land of free speech, and a man was allowed to say that religions are fairy stories for adults

See article from bostonstandard.co.uk

 

 Update: Arse Liquor spews forth from the bowels of the UK drinks censor...

Portman Groups whinges at the edgy brand names used by Direct Beers


Link Here 22nd July 2014  full story: UK Drinks Censor...Portman Group play PC censor for drinks

arse liquor advert Ten products produced by independent brewer Direct Beers Ltd have been found to breach the Portman Group's Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.

The Independent Complaints Panel ruled that Cat Piss, Dog Piss, Bullshit, Dandelion & Birdshit, Big Cock, Arse Liquor, Puke, Shitfaced, Yellow Snow and Knobhead , all beers, breached the provisions of the Code.

All of the products were found to contravene Paragraph 3.2(h) of the Code, which states that drinks, packaging or promotional material should not have particular appeal to under-18s.

In addition, Puke, Shiitfaced and Knobhead were deemed to encourage illegal, irresponsible, or immoderate consumption (contrary to Paragraph 3.2f). Big Cock and Knobhead were found in breach for suggesting an association with sexual activity (contrary to Paragraph 3.2d); whilst Shitfaced and Yellow Snow were found in breach for suggesting an association with bravado, violence, aggression, or anti-social behaviour (contrary to Paragraph 3.2b).

Complaints to the Panel regarding Direct Beers' Grumpy Git and Lazy Sod products, however, were not upheld.

All of the complaints about Direct Beers were submitted by the Public Health Team at Newcastle City Council.

Direct Beers asserted that none of its products were intended to appeal to under-18s, and explained that the vast majority of its drinks were sold in person at retail events, where it operated a Challenge 25 policy.

The Panel was concerned, however, that frequent references to scatological humour, defecation, urination, genitalia, vomiting and other bodily functions could prove particularly attractive to under-18s. It also noted that this appeal was exacerbated by the cartoon illustrations shown on a number of the products.

Henry Ashworth, Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, said:

It is vitally important that alcohol producers ensure that their drinks do not in any way appeal to children, encourage violence, anti-social behaviour or immoderate drinking, or make references to sexual activity. There is a place for humour in alcohol marketing, as the Panel's decisions on Grumpy Git and Lazy Sod show -- but it is important to know where to draw the line."

Direct Beers has not yet confirmed whether it will make any amendments to its products.

 

 Comment: Portrait of Ms Prudery May...

Major London art gallery censors painting featuring pubic hair


Link Here 19th July 2014
portrait-of-ms-ruby-may-s-001 Leena McCall's Portrait of Ms Ruby May, Standing was removed from the Society of Women Artists' 153rd annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London after being deemed disgusting and pornographic , according to the artist.

Few things cause more umbrage now than someone wantonly enjoying tobacco. But further investigation revealed it was the way the sitter's short waistcoat and undone breeches framed a luxuriant dark V of pubic hair, not to mention, the Come hither, if you dare! expression on May's face, as she coolly scrutinises the viewer, that seemed to be the problem.

The Mall Galleries have issued the following 'won't somebody think of the children' statement:

As an educational arts charity, the federation has a responsibility to its trustees and to the children and vulnerable adults who use its galleries and learning centre. After a number of complaints regarding the depiction of the subject and taking account of its location en route for children to our learning centre, we requested the painting was removed.

The Society of Women Artists was permitted to replace McCall's work with another less provocative nude: one where the model wasn't tattooed and standing hand-on-hip, all unbuttoned. It seems the Mall Galleries' clientele can cope with nudes, so long as the model is a more passive and unthreatening recipient of the wandering viewer's gaze. Which all seems a desperately outmoded form of prudishness.

McCall is understandably incensed at the censoring of her portrait, as her avowed intention in painting it was to explore, how women choose to express their sexual identity beyond the male gaze . It's an added irony that her work should be removed from an all-female exhibition, curated by women. When I contacted the artist via her website, McCall explained that Ruby May (who leads erotic workshops) had proudly wanted to own the pubic hair that is so often waxed, covered or air-brushed away in contemporary depictions of the female body -- and rarely glimpsed in classical ones, come to that. The painter can't begin to understand how a painting that reveals no intimate flesh, other than the pelvic triangle, could possibly be described as pornography.

Spiked logo Offsite Comment: Pubic hair... now officially offensive

19th July 2014. See  article from  spiked-online.com by Ivor Jones

 

 Offsite Article: Now that everyone's a journalist, anyone can be sued...


Link Here 10th July 2014
the spectator logo The plight of Dominic Prince shows why legal costs are a free-speech issue. By Nick Cohen

See article from spectator.co.uk

 

 Update: Get Over It!...

The continuing case against Boris Johnson's banning of an anti-gay bus advert


Link Here 3rd July 2014  full story: Boris Johnson Bans Anti-gay Adverts...Christians take legal action against ban of bus advert
Old Bailey A High Court judge is considering whether fresh evidence from the Mayor of London's office shows that Boris Johnson personally ordered Transport for London to ban a Christian anti-gay bus advertisement, and whether he did so for an improper purpose during his re-election campaign in 2012.

The advert by Core Issue Trust (CIT), which claimed that people can change unwanted homosexual feelings, was in response to Stonewall's campaign, Some people are gay. Get over it! which had been running on London buses for several months.

The ban on the Christian bus adverts took place during Boris Johnson's campaign for re-election as Mayor of London, just a day before he addressed an election rally organised by Stonewall, the gay pressure group.

Previously Mrs Justice Lang upheld the ban on the CIT slogan, Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it! , at the original High Court hearing. Following the decision, CIT submitted a Freedom of Information request which revealed emails suggesting the Mayor had personally instructed TFL to ban the adverts. One email from the Mayor's Director of Communications at the time, Guto Harri, states that the Mayor personally ordered the Christian advertisement to be pulled. CIT took the case to the Court of Appeal which sent it back to Mrs Justice Lang to consider the new email evidence which she had not seen at the first hearing.

Mrs Justice Lang stated she was not satisfied that the Mayor had told the full story about the ban and made an order for disclosure by Boris Johnson and TfL of all relevant documents.

CIT is not satisfied that the Order has been fully complied with and believes that documents which could be crucial to the case are still being withheld.

Core Issues Trust is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, whose CEO, Andrea Williams, said:

This is suppression of free speech and expression by the political class. Boris and his high-level team are using their power to suppress a small Christian charity.

The fact that the Court of Appeal ordered this case to be reconsidered by Mrs Justice Lang is an important vindication of the rule of law. TfL has made it hard for us to get to this point; it has been hostile and obstructive and has certainly not been a model of transparency. TfL has continued to promote Stonewall campaigns on its transport system -- a highly provocative action which shows disregard for the Court's original judgment, which held that neither Stonewall's or Core Issues Trusts's adverts should have been allowed. If one point of view is championed on London's transport network, there must be room to display an opposing view. We hope the Judge will recognise that this freedom was violated when the Mayor banned Core Issues Trust's adverts.