Lord Justice Leveson has sent Guido’s lawyers some Christmas homework, in his usual charming way he threatens to send yours truly to jail unless he gets answers. Presumably he plans to send the Royal Navy to Wexford Harbour if Guido fails to comply by January 10.
Guido is minded to answer the questions not because he has to, nor because he accepts the jurisdiction of the inquiry, but only because he wants to tell the judge why he thinks his efforts are both a menace to freedom of the press and unnecessary. Piers Morgan and the rest of the celebrity hackers and blaggers without a public interest defence have committed criminal acts under existing laws. There is no need for new laws if the existing criminal laws were fully enforced.
Under the terms of the restriction order Leveson made after Guido published Alastair Campbell’s draft evidence, Guido was restricted from publishing his own last witness statement and this new witness statement. Nothing however stops the publication of Leveson’s questions:
(1) Who you are and a brief summary of your career history;
(2) What material your website “Guido Fawkes” publishes, and Why;
(3) The Inquiry wishes to understand the extent to which your website is based in the UK. Where are your servers located? Do you consider the UK courts to have jurisdiction over the Way in which your website is operated in the UK, and how far does this jurisdiction extend?
(4) How you source stories (there is no need to name individuals) and Where you consider the responsibility for checking sources of information to lie, with you, or with the person who has provided you with the information;
(5) To what extent to which you are aware of the sources of the information which make up the central stories featured on your blog;
(6) The extent to which you consider that ethics can and should play a role in the blogosphere, and what you consider ‘ethics’ to mean in this context;
(7) Do you have any policy which relates to complaints about articles or web pages which are libellous, defamatory or considered to be an invasion of privacy? If not, do you have any relevant practices? Do you ever remove availability to such pages on that basis? The Inquiry would be grateful for some examples of this (anonymised if necessary). Copies of any policies should also be provided.
(8) How do you consider yourself to be regulated?
(9) The Inquiry would also welcome your views on the extent to which the content of Websites, and the manner in which you operate, can be regulated by a domestic system of regulation.
(10) Anything else which you consider will assist the Chairman to arrive at considered conclusions on any aspect of the Terms of Reference, set out above.
Despite the Inquiry paying the legal expenses of all other witnesses except Guido, he is as always willing to be helpful. The gist of the response is “you have no chance of trying to regulate the worldwide web”…