Recent Articles

Questioning the BNP

by Padraig Reidy     September 28, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Well, it’s happened. The BBC has announced that British National Party leader Nick Griffin MEP will appear on political discussion show Question Time on 22 October. Facing him (among others) will be Justice Secretary Jack Straw, a man believed by frequenters of far-right web forums to be a key part of the International Jewish Conspiracy.

I mention this partly because it will be interesting to see if Nick Griffin manages not to mention it when he faces Straw. Griffin, of course, is the author of the 1995 pamphlet Who Are The Mindbenders, which catalogues in some detail how Jewish (and in many cases “Jew-ish”) people control the media.
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The BBC risks losing its way

by Padraig Reidy     May 14, 2009 at 3:10 pm

The broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby has written an article for Index on Censorship arguing that, “The BBC Trust’s condemnation of Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen has the potential to cause serious damage to the corporation’s international standing”.

He says:

The decision by the BBC Trust to censure the BBC’s Middle East editor for breaching the corporation’s guidelines on accuracy and impartiality deserve closer scrutiny than it has yet been given. Jeremy Bowen is justly regarded as one of the BBC’s most courageous, authoritative and thoughtful broadcasters; his hundreds of despatches and commentaries from various frontlines in the Middle East have been noted for their acuity and balance. Now, thanks to the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) — a body with the absolute and final authority of a latter-day Star Chamber — not only has Bowen’s hard-won reputation been sullied, but the BBC’s international status as the best source of trustworthy news in the world has been gratuitously — if unintentionally — undermined.

And he concludes by saying:

Of course the Bowens of broadcasting can look after themselves; they may feel aggrieved or frustrated, but they will shake off such verdicts; nor will they allow their editorial perspective and judgement to be constrained by them. But younger and less experienced correspondents will not find it so easy. At best the risk is that it becomes routine to hedge their coverage with so many cautionary “ifs” and “buts” that their journalism is denuded of genuine clarity and insight. At worst, they will simply start to regurgitate edited versions of competing press releases with an invitation to viewers and listeners to draw their own conclusions. Were that to happen, the BBC would have entirely lost its way, and we will be left a great deal poorer.

Wrong end of stick grabbed, shaken vigorously

by Padraig Reidy     December 19, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Mike Smithson over at Political Betting has “just received some information that could have major consequences for bloggers”.

Apparently, the entire adjournment debate on Tuesday concerning libel (I assume this is what he’s talking about) was about ZaNuLiarbore (or whatever it is this week) finding “a way of dealing with government irritants such as Guido and to a lesser extent Iain Dale.”

Sorry Iain and Guido, but you didn’t come up. Denis MacShane did, yes, float the idea of registration on sites as a means of cutting down on anonymous slanderous comments (slander, not libel, being the legal status of defamatory comments), but qualified this suggestion heavily with “except where for good reason, as in a newspaper letters column, a name and address is withheld.” The whole notion was pretty much dropped when Evan Harris pointed out the ease of setting up a pseudonymous identity on the web.
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Libel progress at Commons

by Padraig Reidy     December 17, 2008 at 2:45 pm

You may have noticed the announcement earlier this week of a joint inquiry in to libel by Index on Censorship and English PEN. The issue of the unfairness of UK defamation laws has been exercising us for some time, and we’re not the only ones.

Today saw an adjournment debate at the House of Commons on the subject of libel laws, featuring contributions from Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and UKIP MPs.
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Let’s not make Nazi martyrs

by Padraig Reidy     October 17, 2008 at 11:49 am

I’m heading to Westminster Magistrates Court this afternoon, to cover the extradition hearing of Dr Frederick Toben. The outcome is by no means certain, and has potential to affect British free expression, rendering citizens here vulnerable to prosecution in EU countries with less liberal legislation.

This will be Toben’s fourth appearance at court, and the court will be, as it has been previously, packed with a mixture of frantically scribbling hacks and a smattering of Toben’s supporters, among whom Michelle Renouf and David Irving are the most notable.

Toben has been subjected to a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities. One’s initial reaction to the EAW is to baulk at just how wide ranging they can be. But as Chris Huhne points out on Index on Censorship this morning, they are a valuable tool:

“The arrest warrant is extradition for the Ryanair age. If criminals can re-emerge hundreds of miles away in a different jurisdiction within hours of a crime, the state must be able to pursue offenders without the interminable bureaucracy that is such a feature of traditional extradition. But countries must be able to trust each other’s legal systems and the responsible use of the warrant, or the political support for the warrant will wither.”

As with so many legal tools, sensible, sensitive application seems the key. The EAW is not, in and of itself, a bad mechanism. But in this case, the UK authorities have been far too keen to comply with their German counterparts, and ended up stepping in to a legal minefield. We can only hope that this afternoon, we return to a sensible position.

See her for what she was

by Padraig Reidy     May 29, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Mary Whitehouse has always been a peripheral idea in my life — one of those puppets on Spitting Image I never really recognised as a child, but laughed at anyway, because if I didn’t seem to be paying attention, my parents might revoke the ‘being allowed up late to watch Spitting Image’ licence they had so generously granted.

Later, in my smart-arsed adolescence, came the Mary Whitehouse Experience, the apotheosis of smart-arsed comedy. I don’t think I really knew where the name came from, save from the notion of some batty old woman.

That batty old woman turned up again last night, in the BBC’s Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story.
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