Bloggers don't do it for the money, Leveson Inquiry told

Blogger and media lawyer David Allen Green has praised social media at the Leveson Inquiry today.

Green, legal commentator at the New Statesman, argued that bloggers and Twitter users should not be viewed as “rogues”, adding that social media users often act responsibly and regulate themselves by being transparent.

“Most alleged abuses by people using social media can often be traced back to someone who may or may not have an agenda,” he said.

He added it was “wonderful” that mainstream sources were co-operating with social media users, noting that “almost every journalist now has a Twitter account” and that the platform is increasingly used to distribute breaking information quickly.

Revealing he has made about “about £12” from advertisements on his Jack of Kent blog, Green told Lord Justice Leveson bloggers do not blog for the money but to “engage in public debate…[and] be part of a civic society.”

He claimed the mainstream media’s use of photographs from social media sites such as Facebook was “analogous” to the phone-hacking scandal, noting that newspapers do it “routinely” without recognising that it is a form of copyright infringement.

The editor-in-chief of the Press Association, Jonathan Grun, also appeared today. He said the news agency, which provides a “constant stream” of stories and video to major British news organisations, placed great emphasis on accuracy, adding that its customers needed to be able to rely on it without making checks.

He said most editorial mistakes occur “by accident”. He described one occasion in which a PA reporter with 30 years of experience confused someone named in a story with another person of the same name. Grun said it was the agency’s “gravest editorial error”, adding that the reporter was so ashamed that they resigned.

There will be a directions hearing for Module 2 of the Inquiry, which will examine the relationships between the press and police, later this afternoon.

Hearings continue tomorrow, with evidence from representatives from Facebook and Google, the Information Commissioner’s Office and journalist Camilla Wright.

Follow Index on Censorship’s coverage of the Leveson Inquiry on Twitter – @IndexLeveson

Liberty, if it means anything…

The emminently readable Jack of Kent blog marks the sixtieth anniversary of George Orwell’s death with some pertinent questions for any self-professing Orwell fan:

What habits of thought and language do you have which could lead to cruelty and abuse?

When do your purported progressive opinions slide into mere justifications for inhumane treatment?

Why, like Winston Smith, do you find O’Brien so attractive and want to believe in him?

Who, for you, is the Snowball or Goldstein that you always want to blame?

How do you seek to try and limit the vocabulary and free expression of those with whom you disagree?

Are you really intellectually and morally honest?

Read the rest here

Engaging with libel reform

Jack of Kent has posted a blog about the campaign to reform English libel laws launched this week by Index on Censorship, English Pen and Sense about Science. He writes:

“England’s libel law is currently a public danger and a public disgrace. There is something very wrong with English libel law; and the campaign launched today is a serious, highly-practical, and determined movement for change.”

To read the post in full click here

Chiropractors allege malicious attack in Singh libel case

Simon Singh, the science writer who yesterday (Oct 14) won the right to appeal a preliminary judgment in a case brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association, has been accused of “maliciously” attacking the organisation.

In a statement published on its website, the BCA claimed its defamation suit was not an attack on free speech. The statement continued:

“The BCA supports and would never seek to stifle legitimate open scientific debate. However, this action is actually a simple libel claim based on the fact that the BCA was maliciously attacked by Dr. Singh in the Guardian newspaper. When given the opportunity to retract his words and apologise, Dr. Singh refused. This claim has been brought to restore the good reputation of the BCA and that of its members.”

More at Jack of Kent

UPDATE: The BCA has redrafted its statement, replacing the words “maliciously attacked” with “libelled”.