Carter-Ruck: Grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented
Padraig Reidy: this injunction on reporting a parliamentary question is a threat to democracy itself
13 Oct 09

In what seems to have already turned into one of the greatest own goals in the history of the legal profession, solicitors Carter-Ruck won an injunction yesterday, forbidding the reporting of a parliamentary question put by an MP, regarding another injunction.

It cannot be overstated how utterly contrary to democracy this development is. Representative democracy depends on the concept that parliamentarians can speak without fear, and the public can listen to and read what they say, whether sitting in the gallery or through print, broadcast and online media. Democracy, perhaps even more so than justice, must not just be practised: it must be seen to be practised.

That a judge should glibly overturn this concept, even temporarily, puts us truly in GUBU territory. This is, to quote the late Conor Cruise O’Brien, grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented.

The Guardian newspaper goes to court today in an effort to overturn this travesty. Anyone who believes in a free press, free expression and democracy must support their efforts.

Update: it didn’t go to court

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.