Three months after Guido first reported that the star had been questioned and three weeks after this blog reported his arrest, the old media have finally run the Rolf Harris story. There was never any court order or injunction preventing publication, the delay was the decision of the editors alone. Harbottle and Lewis can put pressure on the papers to keep stories quiet, but it merely hands the scoop to the free press on the unregulated internet. Chilling..
An 82-year-old man from Berkshire has been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences as part of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse investigation accord to the Metropolitan Police. Guido understands that it is Rolf Harris.
He was – as Guido reported at the time – interviewed by the police under caution in January. There was no legal reason to not report this news – the papers chose not to for their own reasons…
Fourteen Tory rebels said no to exemplary damages in the Commons last night:
- Richard Bacon
- Christopher Chope
- Tracey Crouch
- Philip Davies
- Nick de Bois
- Andrew Percy
- Mark Reckless
- John Redwood
- Andrew Turner
- Martin Vickers
- Charles Walker
- Sarah Wollaston
- Richard Drax
- Jacob Rees Mogg
And here is what has been dreamt up by Hacked Off and politicians in the middle of the night. It’s all very simple and straight forward:
Graphic via Mail.
Guido has obtained a list of prominent Hacked Off donors.
Today seems as good a day as any to expose these so called “victims”. Besides the undisclosed amount donated by Hugh Grant from his Screws payout and £50,000 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, donations in kind have been given by Sovereign Strategy, the spin shop set up by a former Labour MEP Alan Donnelly. Sovereign are Max Mosley’s spinners. Mosley somewhat disingenuously told the audience at a Spectator Debate on Leveson that he did not fund the Hacked Off campaign. This was indirect funding. The time has come to name some of the individual donors who have something to hide.
Guido can reveal that Lady Annabel Goldsmith donated. Which story or photograph about about this socialite’s offspring made her want to restrict the free press? When Hacked Off was set up, Jemima Khan, ex-lover of Hugh Grant, is understood to have hosted a dinner and an upmarket whip-round attended by around thirty of the great and the good. Jemima’s divorce and affairs have kept the papers busy for years. Fortunately for her if Hacked Off got their way the pages would be blank…
With a twist of the knife, the statutory underpinning of the Royal Charter will be put forward in the Lords this afternoon by former Gordon Brown Special Adviser Lord Wilf Stevenson. Loyal Guido readers will remember Stevenson’s role as the Director of Brown’s leadership slush fund the Smith Institute, a position he was forced to resign from after heavy criticism from the Charity Commission. Guido’s sustained campaign to make that happen can be found here.
The Prime Mentalist and his allies are having their revenge for exposure of their dodgy ways.
All sides are claiming victory this morning, with the exception of the press. Given that the concessions were reportedly made by Letwin in Ed’s office, in the wee hours, just hours before the prospect of a Commons defeat, the Tories are starting the spin battle from the bottom of the hill. Maria Miller insists Dave has won and that there is no statutory underpinning:
“There is no statutory underpinning for the approach that we are taking. There will be no statutory underpinning. What we’re talking about here is simply reiterating the fact that there can be no change to the charter as we move forward. I mean, this is already incorporated into the charter and has been from the beginning … This is not statutory underpinning, it is simply making sure that there’s no change – it’s a no-change clause. What has been accepted by all the parties is that the prime minister’s royal charter should go ahead, and that importantly we’ve stopped Labour’s extreme version of the press law, which now, as part of any deal, the Labour party would actually vote against.”
Harriet Harman says there is:
“There is a an amendment going forward into the enterprise and regulatory reform bill which says that where a charter says in that charter it can’t be dissolved or amended without a two thirds majority in both Houses, then that should have the force of law. There is a little bit of statute. Hacked Off will be very pleased by the outcome.”
What do you think?
One thing that surprises Guido is that his comrades in the liberal, progressive blogosphere have seemingly not noticed that the proposed Royal Charter aims to control and regulate them as well as the tabloids.
Schedule 4, Point 1 of both the government and the opposition’s versions of the Royal Charter will bring blogs under the regulator’s control:
“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)”
Now the “What about Guido?” question has been answered by Maria Miller to Harriet Harman’s satisfaction, Guido’s rival bloggers should pause before rejoicing. You will all be regulated as well. British bloggers will, if politicians get their way, no longer have unregulated free speech on the internet.
So to all those in the progressive blogosphere who support regulating the freedom of the press, Guido poses this simple question: will you defy the new regulator or submit to that system of state control you support? If it goes through the fun will start when fractious bloggers start complaining about their rival’s falsehoods and demanding they print due prominence corrections. The chaos of every petty flame war on the internet spilling over into the new statutory-backed regulator’s complaint procedure system will paralyse it. Have Maria Miller and Harriet Harman thought this through?
To all those bloggers who support this press control Charter because they hate Murdoch and Dacre, Guido offers this cautionary counsel, remember that the new regulator will cover you as well. You will have all the expense and bureaucracy of compliance as Murdoch and Dacre face, without the means. Unless like Guido and the Spectator you plan to become media outlaws too…
The papers are reporting this morning that Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameorn were on the verge of agreement until Hugh Grant’s Hacked Off campaign lobbied Labour aggressively. This is the draft press release brandished by Hacked Off to put the wind up Ed Miliband if he went ahead with the deal:
The language is ridiculous, Hugh Grant is a victim of his own making, calling on the Queen not to carry out her constitutional duty because he doesn’t want his picture in the papers any more is frankly comical. Hacked Off is a bunch of celebs who have been caught with their pants down hiding behind the genuine suffering of the McCanns and the Dowlers who were victims of real crimes which the police are already pursuing. Hacked Off won’t say who funds them, they are self-appointed and they are secretive with a sinister agenda to protect the rich and powerful from the prying eyes of the public.
Guido is opposed to all the proposals to control the press including the government’s misguided plan to enforce extra-territorial control of publications. We won’t be cooperating with any legislation that tries to control a foreign publication like this blog because it is, in the words of the Charter, “targeted primarily at an audience in the United Kingdom”. Imagine if the Soviets had tried to do the same to Radio Free Europe during the Cold War, or the Iranian regime demanded today to regulate the BBC’s Persian Service on the grounds that it is “targeted primarily at an audience in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
Guido reminded Brian Leveson when he was giving his evidence that under the obligations of Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights as agreed by Britain in 1948
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
That is more important than preventing the paparazzi taking pictures of Hugh Grant on a bad hair day…
Yesterday 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…
A full house for last night’s Spectator Leveson debate. Guido took to the stage alongside Richard Littlejohn and John Whittingdale to defend the freedom of the press against Murdoch-haters Max Mosley and Chris Bryant. Media lawyer Charlotte Harris turned up late so she was replaced by her swivel-eyed namesake Evan, the failed LibDem politician.[…]
Guardian hack Nick Davies once called the Press Complaints Commission “corrupt” and has written numerous pieces attacking it. So Guido was surprised to hear that he was not averse to threatening to use it himself. In October a journalist from the Mail rang Davies up about a diary piece concerning what a girlfriend, Imogen Lycett Green, is said to have told giggling friends.[…]
What a surprise that the EU has intervened into the Leveson debate and wants to implement draconian press controls across the great project. New potential European Commission recommendations will apparently offer “respect, protection, support and promotion of media freedom and pluralism in Europe”, yet it doesn’t take very long before things get rather sinister:
“All EU countries should have independent media councils… Media councils should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.”
First they came for the journalists…
UPDATE: Toby Young has found an even worse line:
“The national media councils should follow a set of European-wide standards and be monitored by the Commission to ensure that they comply with European values.”