Rotherham Labour MPs Sue UKIP’s Jane Collins For Libel

The loudest cheer at UKIP conference was for the party’s candidate in Rotherham, Jane Collins, who made a series of explosive allegations about several Labour MPs’ alleged involvement in the town’s child abuse scandal. Now Labour’s Rotherham MPs Sarah Champion, John Healey and Kevin Barron are suing her for libel and slander. Her speech had the journalists in the room choking on their coffees…

BBC Mo-ment: Depicts Mohammed in Physical Form

This image is a screengrab from last night’s News at Ten. The BBC web page explaining their editorial guidelines on the issue has mysteriously disappeared today.  A very big Mo-ment for free speech…

It seems Dimbleby was still reading from the now ancient text on Question Time after the image went out last night:

“The prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form.”

Guido has contacted the BBC press office to see if they have had any complaints or threats…

UPDATE: BBC confirms the change in policy:

“This guidance is old, out of date and does not reflect the BBC’s long-standing position that programme makers have freedom to exercise their editorial judgement with the Editorial Policy team available to provide advice around sensitive issues on a case by case basis. The guidance is currently being revised.”

They had no complaints.

Politically Correct ASA Bans Sun “Date” Advert…
But Gives Green Light to Rivals to Do the Same

This is the Sun fantasy football advert banned in the latest politically correct ruling from the censorious Advertising Standards Authority. The light-hearted offer gave readers the chance to be “entered in to a prize draw for a date with a Page 3 girl”, the sort of competition prize regularly offered recently by other media outlets, such as the Daily Echo’s “win a date with Amy Childs”, Capital FM’s “win a date with Enrique!”, and the Star’s “win a date with Danielle Lloyd: Dani is naked and she wants you!”.

For some reason the ASA, chaired by renowned part-time floods expert and Labour peer Chris Smith, decided that only the Sun’s advert was “demeaning to women”, “objectified those offered as prizes” and was “likely to cause serious or widespread offence”. Almost as if the ASA has a massively unsubtle political agenda

Another Politically Correct ASA Ruling
Chris Smith’s Council Vetoes Criticism of Anti-Smoking Ad

asa-The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), chaired by renowned part-time floods expert Chris Smith, has bizarrely overturned a ruling by its executive criticising a “misleading” Department for Heath anti-smoking advert.

During an 18 month investigation, the ASA’s executive on three separate occasions upheld a complaint by smokers’ rights group Forest, which had accused a recent Department of Health ad campaign of being “misleading” and “omitting material information”. Yet this week the ASA council announced it was overruling its executive’s decision, instead suddenly finding that the Department of Health ad wasn’t misleading after all. Forest say the decision is “inexplicable”accusing the Department of Health of “doing everything it could to derail our complaint”. A full timeline of how the ASA stonewalled the investigation before mysteriously contradicting itself can be read here.

The ASA at the same time decided to uphold complaints by tobacco control groups about Japan Tobacco’s 2013 advert which reprinted a 2011 Department of Health email about the lack of hard evidence for plain packaging. Given “hard evidence” in the context of the advert could only have meant real-life, practical evidence that did not exist in May 2011 as no country in the world had introduced plain packaging, it was hardly misleading to reprint, in full, an email written by the Department of Health. All this is occurring with just over a week to go before the end of the third UK consultation on plain packaging and there still isn’t any hard evidence to show that it works.

The ASA has a long track record of making rulings against less politically correct causes such as anti-gay marriage adverts, anti-environmentalist adverts, Fathers4Justice adverts and pro-hanging adverts. Asked by its executive to find against a politically correct government anti-smoking advert, however, the ASA council headed by Lord Smith vetoed the recommendation. Yet another example of the ASA’s politically correct agenda…

Press Royal Charter: Maria Miller’s “Get Guido” Clause

big-sister-maria-millerYesterday Guardian journalists gleefully drew Guido’s attention to a clause in Maria Miller’s proposed legislation that attempts to bring this blog into the regulated, un-free press sector that is being created post-Leveson. Guido has highlighted the ambitious clause in red below…

SCHEDULE 4

INTERPRETATION

Key definitions

1. For the purposes of this Charter:

a) “Regulator” means an independent body formed by or on behalf of relevant publishers for the purpose of conducting regulatory activities in relation to their publications;

b) “relevant publisher” means a person (other than a broadcaster) who publishes in the United Kingdom:

a. a newspaper or magazine containing news-related material, or

b. a website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine);

c) “broadcaster” means:

a. the holder of a licence under the Broadcasting Act 1990 or 1996;

b. the British Broadcasting Corporation; or

c. Sianel Pedwar Cymru;

d) a person “publishes in the United Kingdom” if the publication takes place in the United Kingdom or is targeted primarily at an audience in the United Kingdom;

e) “news-related material” means:

i. news or information about current affairs;
ii. opinion about matters relating to the news or current affairs; or
iii. gossip about celebrities, other public figures or other persons in the news.

It is arguable – and Guido does argue – that since this blog’s server is in California the publication takes place in the US, under the protection of the First Amendment. Readers point their browsers at http://www.order-order.com and download the content from the server cache. The publishing tool is the server and it is definitely not in the United Kingdom. Which is why they introduced the second part: “or is is targeted primarily at an audience in the United Kingdom”. That is an interesting idea, which hopefully won’t catch on internationally. Imagine if the Iranian regime implemented the same law, demanding that the BBC’s Persian Service, which is broadcast from London, submitted to their regulator. Crazy.

Guido would be interested to hear what the many m’learned friends who read this blog think of this bit of the legislation. Who will the regulator pursue? Individual bloggers personally when they are in the jurisdiction? A foreign citizen, uploading to a foreign-hosted website, published by a foreign domiciled company – seems to Guido that this legal extra-territoriality has dubious legal foundations. Perhaps Maria Miller is planning to send Royal Navy gunboats to Wexford and California?

Section 5 Victory in Sight

Guido will believe it when he sees the devil in the detail but it sounds like the Home Office are starting to realise that the game is up when it comes to Section 5 of the Public Order Act – the law that says you cannot offend people. Campaign group Big Brother Watch report:

“Speaking as the Crime and Courts Bill returned to the Commons for its second reading, the Home Secretary confirmed the Government would accept Lord Dear’s amendment to the legislation and support amending the Public Order Act 1986 to remove the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Act.

This is a triumph for David Davis MP, Peter Tatchell, Rowan Atkinson, the Reform Section 5 campaign and all those who like Big Brother Watch supported the campaign – from the National Secular Society to the Christian Institute.”

It only took the government a year to respond to the public consultation.

UPDATE:

Shapps A-OK With ASA, No Adverts to Ban

The Indy seem rather pleased with their report that the Advertising Standards Authority has launched a probe into the whole Grant Shapps/Michael Green affair. The internet guru won’t be breaking a sweat just yet – as Guido understands it there were no paid adverts on websites run by the Tory chairman’s alter ego so there is no advert to ban. In any case the ASA has no statutory authority, no mandate and no enforcement powers.

It’s hardly surprising that they would get involved though. The ASA is chaired by Chris Smith, the former Labour MP and now peer. They are a censorious bunch of self-appointed bureaucrats making politically correct judgements in areas they should not go into. To call them a “kangaroo court” would be to insult the powers of jurisprudence wielded by antipodean mammals. They have no place in a free democracy…

UPDATE: The ASA has “investigated” and made “rulings” on anti-gay marriage adverts, anti-environmentalist adverts, Fathers4Justice adverts, pro-hanging adverts – do you see a politically correct agenda here? They should stay out of political advertising.

The ASA are not above making false claims themselves. They claim to be an “Authority” when in fact they have no more authority than the Girl Guides, with no legal powers whatsoever.  They claim to be an independent regulator when in fact they are 100% funded by the big advertising agencies. They also claim on their website to be “successfully regulating online advertising”. Odd that they have written to Guido pleading with him to comply with their censorship demands lest the whole ASA compliance system fails. We didn’t and there was nothing they could do about it.



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Quote of the Day

David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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