The regimes using coronavirus as an excuse to attack press freedom (New Statesman)

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Editor-in-chief of Index on Censorship magazine, Rachael Jolley, writes in the New Statesman on how the rights to press freedom are being violated around the world in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Index is running a project to map these incidents.

“Challenges are coming at us from all directions. But the public’s right to know should not be erased during this time,” she wrote.

Read the full article here. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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

Keep libel law out of politics

Busy times for Carter-Ruck of late. While the thoughts of the nation turn wearily to the general election campaign, the UK’s two top political magazines have been crossing swords with the UK’s top libel lawyers.
In today’s Spectator, editor Fraser Nelson reveals his ongoing battles with Charlie Whelan, former spin doctor for Gordon Brown and current political director of the powerful Unite union. Whelan, through Carter-Ruck, threatened legal action against the right-leaning magazine after it, er, claimed he had acted like a bully.

Nelson writes on the Spectator’s Coffee House blog

Last summer, The Spectator received a letter from Charlie Whelan’s solicitors complaining about this post – where we mention their client’s spot of bother with his colleagues at Unite. Carter-Ruck were instructed on one of the no-win-no-fee deals: it cost Whelan nothing to sue, but could cost us thousands to defend. So the lawyer’s letter is, by itself, an effective form of intimidation.

Meanwhile, over at Carter-Ruck’s own website, we have this little snippet about the Spectator’s left-wing rival, the New Statesman:

Daniel Hannan MEP – An Apology
The New Statesman has apologised to Daniel Hannan, the Conservative MEP for Southeast England, in respect of defamatory allegations published on its website on 18 September 2009. The New Statesman has also paid Mr Hannan damages together with his legal costs.

The payout comes after a suggestion in a web article by James MacIntyre, suggesting the maverick Tory MEP may have made a racist comment about President Obama.

As mentioned yesterday, Traditional Ulster Voice’s Jim Allister, a QC, is threatening defamation action against North Antrim rival Ian Paisley Jr over information on an election leaflet.

Suggestion: shouldn’t our politicos stick to battling at the ballot box rather than the high court?