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?

READ: The Draft Royal Charter Plan Has Just Been Published

It can be changed by two thirds of Parliament.

UPDATE:

It seems the Tories want to try to regulate Guido:

“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)”

Spectator Debate: Leveson Is a Fundamental Threat to Free Press

20130131-090313.jpg

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.

speccie-debate-logo

Highlights included Littlejohn calling out Hacked Off as “Leveson-loving left-wing luvvies, bien pensant self-appointed moral guardians”, and Bryant’s tale of a man turning up at his door offering “submissive” services only for the topless photo-taking MP to tell him to “f**k off”. Guido revealed his first meeting with Bryant, when the Rhondda MP said he wanted this blog closed down. Max Mosley seemed to enjoy talking about his “humiliation” at the hands of the Screws, for some reason.

“Leveson is a fundamental threat to the free press”. Motion carried…

N.B. Guido’s speech in favour of the motion is here.

Nick Davies Threatens to Use PCC to Spank Mail

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. The details are not suitable for a family blog – think Max Mosley without the Germans.

He went absolutely crackers, surprisingly. Guido hears that Davies was able to recite vast chunks of the PCC code word for word down the phone. Threatening them with the PCC equivalent of hell and damnation if his vice anglais became public…

EU Wants to ‘Remove’ Journalists
European Commission Weighs into Leveson Debate

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.”

 

Hacked Off Bill Falls at First Freedom Hurdle

Hugh Grant’s lobbying group Hacked Off are trying very hard to pretend that they do not support statutory regulation of the press. Their draft bill, which would implement Leveson in full, is nicely dressed up as apparently defending “media freedom”, when in fact the opposite is true. They claim that ‘The Leveson Bill will enshrine press freedom in law. Political meddling will only debase it,” yet their “statutory underpinning” falls over almost immediately. In the third clause to be precise:

(3) Interference with the activities of the media by Ministers
of the Crown and public officials shall be unlawful
unless it is for a legitimate purpose and is necessary in a
democratic society, having full regard to the importance
of media freedom in a democracy.

So the government can’t intervene with the press unless it “for a legitimate purpose”. And who will be deciding what is and is not a “legitimate purpose”? Surely not the lawmakers? Back to the drawing board please, freedom haters.

Leveson Effect: Can You See What It Is Yet?

rolf-harris-jim-davidson-max-cliford-leveson-effect

Over the last few weeks the police Operation Yewtree has questioned a number of celebrities over allegations of sex crimes. Each time the papers have known the names of those arrested or questioned, each time the first the public knew about it was when this blog broke the story.

We scooped the press on the arrests of Max Clifford and Jim Davidson. Today we can report that Rolf Harris has also been questioned under caution by police from Operation Yewtree. This has been an open secret in media circles for weeks, journalists and newspaper editors alike have known about the story – yet none has published the news. Why?

No judge has ordered reporting restrictions in relation to Rolf Harris, no super-injunctions prevent the reporting of news concerning him, instead his lawyers Harbottle and Lewis are citing the Leveson Inquiry’s report in letters to editors of newspapers – cowing them into silence. The Leveson effect is real and curtailing the freedom of the press through fear.

In the case of Max Clifford a popular media commentator was our source, with Jim Davidson an ex-copper tipped us off and a local journalist gave us confirmation. This blog is nimble and prepared to take risks, so we are beating all the other news organisations who post-Leveson prefer to await for official police confirmation. This blog is in the news business, we want to beat the competition, we want to be first, we’re proud of breaking stories. We want our readers to be the first to know what is going on.

When the Leveson Inquiry began Guido upset the judge by publishing Alistair Campbell’s evidence before he gave it. Leveson responded by placing a restriction order on this blog. Neatly illustrating by example that the Leveson Inquiry could bring in an era of judicial censorship. It is more subtle than that currently, the chilling effect is that editors fear the prospect of a law rather than any actual new law.

This blog likes being the first to report the news, we would also like to win in a fair fight. The press has its hands tied. A free press ensures that the police do not go about their business in secret. A secret police is a dangerous thing, reporting the arrest of suspects is an important safeguard in a free society – for them and us. We are in danger of losing that safeguard.

See also: Post Leveson British Press Won’t Publish Naked Harry Pictures

Review of 2012: Guido v Leveson

2012 was very much the year Brian Leveson enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame, spending £5 million of taxpayers’ money to change, well, nothing, leaving nobody’s favourite Lord Justice free to jet off into the Australian sunset. Leveson couldn’t get enough of Guido in February, though it is fair to say both he and the Information Commissioner less than appreciated this blog exclusively publishing the Operation Motorman Blue Book later on in the spring. An establishment cover-up of hundreds of crimes committed by journalists was revealed, and Brian went bonkers…

The Leveson effect meant no British media outlet would run the naked photos of Prince Harry that emerged overnight from Vegas during the summer,  fortunately for readers of this blog Guido didn’t care what Leveson thought. When Kate Middleton’s topless snaps found their way onto the internet Guido let the public decide whether or not to publish, you chose to spare the Duchess of Cambridge’s dignity. It didn’t hurt traffic though…

When it came down to it, Dave decided that Leveson’s demand for statutory regulation of the press was a step – to the seventeenth century – too far. There was a bashing for Piers though. As we enter 2013 Brian is gone yet not quite forgotten…

Full Text of Brian Leveson’s Australia Speech

Madness.[…]

Leveson All in a Muddle Down Under

Leveson has been speaking in Oz this morning. The man who only realised half way through his own inquiry that most journalists did not write their own headlines, has been dispensing some more pearls of wisdom about newspapers. Apparently bloggers […]

Tom Watson’s Prank Call Nurse Press Smears Unravel

Over the last few days the Hacked Off brigade have been desperate for it to emerge that the prank call nurse had been contacted by hacks before she took her own life. Evan Harris salivated on Saturday:

[…]

WATCH: Aussie DJs Laughing and Explaining Prank Yesterday

Here are Oz DJ’s Michael Christian and Mel Greig explaining their prank yesterday:

Wonder who is going to wake them up?[…]



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Quote of the Day

Andrew Neil on the dying Dead Tree Press

“I read more bloggers now than mainstream columnists, because they’ve got more interesting things to say. Too many columnists today make you think, ‘Yeah, I think you’ve said that 10 times before and I’ve just noticed your column has not go a single fact in it’”.

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