Hacked Off Donors: #1 Lady Annabel Goldsmith

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…

McMental's Revenge: Brown SpAd Will End Press Freedom

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.

POLL: Is This Statutory Underpinning?

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?

Guido's Warning to Liberal & Progressive Bloggers:Royal Charter Aims for Tabloids and Guido, It'll Get You Too

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.

big-sister-maria-miller

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…

Hacked Off's Blackmail Letter to Miliband

hughThe 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:

hacked-off-blackmail-letter-x480Click to Enlarge

hughThe 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…

Dave v Nick and Ed Leveson Showdown in Full

Click on Dave to see his proposals for the future of the British press, click on Nick and Ed to see their statutory alternative…

Leveson Showdown Monday

Dave says no deal to Nick and Ed; they will now have to vote him down on Monday. Channelling Churchill the PM says “a free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny”. Labour will now have to wreck the Crime and Courts bill if they want to pursue statutory regulation. The trap is set…

Help Stop Lord Puttnam

Britain’s infamously draconian libel laws have made London the libel tourism capital of the world. They are one of the reasons that this blog’s server is in California; the publication takes place in the US, under the protection of the First Amendment. It may be of little difference to Guido, but one of the few noble acts of this government has been the Defamation Bill, which would finally bring about much needed libel reform. Step forward Labour luvvie Lord Puttnam.

Puttnam’s wrecking amendment is a naked attempt to force through the failed Leveson proposals. He is calling for a “specialist arbitration service” that would require newspapers to to sign up to a new regulator. Underpinned by statute, naturally. Sound familiar? Hacked Off backing the move is hardly the shock of the century, they have deservedly lost a lot of friends as a result. Index on Censorship, who campaign against freedom of expression abuses around the world, are worried. They tell Guido:

“While the Defamation Bill has been through 3 parliamentary committees and has the backing of our 60,000 supporters, Puttnam’s attempt to introduce Leveson by the back door was debated and passed in 126 minutes. The government has got to take the initiative, get the Defamation Bill into the House of Commons and then MPs will need to show their constituents whether they back the draconian Puttnam amendment or not.”

Puttnam is trying to kill libel reform. You can tell him and his Leveson-loving, press freedom-hating cronies where to go here

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 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 are to blame for the drop in media standards and ethics, as it is making  hacks have to work harder and “undermine media standards through encouraging them to adopt a casual approach to the law”. Yes, it’s all those pesky bloggers fault that the News of the World hacked phones…

Most print hacks, especially in Westminster, are already are bloggers and tweeters. Leveson should have looked at the level of content produced on websites and on Twitter compared to what actually makes it into to print. The ‘can’t beat, so join them’ horse has already bolted.

Leveson’s attempts to shut the stable door through statutory regulation is looking increasingly absurd.

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:

Tom Watson even went as far as directly accusing journalists of “spooking” the woman, despite the fact they did not know her name:

Now the Press Complaints Commission have poured water on the press-haters’ wet dream. Lord Hunt told MPs earlier:

MP: “Was nurse hounded by press before she took her life?”
LH: “I don’t think so”

Yet another one in the eye for Watson. He’s not having a good run of it lately…

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?[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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