Wednesday 26th of January 2022

house of secrets

house of secrets

The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

The Guardian has vowed urgently to go to court to overturn the gag on its reporting. The editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: "The media laws in this country increasingly place newspapers in a Kafkaesque world in which we cannot tell the public anything about information which is being suppressed, nor the proceedings which suppress it. It is doubly menacing when those restraints include the reporting of parliament itself."

The media lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said Lord Denning ruled in the 1970s that "whatever comments are made in parliament" can be reported in newspapers without fear of contempt.

kafka meets big brother...

nationaal securitee

He said: "Four rebel MPs asked questions giving the identity of 'Colonel B', granted anonymity by a judge on grounds of 'national security'. The DPP threatened the press might be prosecuted for contempt, but most published."

The right to report parliament was the subject of many struggles in the 18th century, with the MP and journalist John Wilkes fighting every authority – up to the king – over the right to keep the public informed. After Wilkes's battle, wrote the historian Robert Hargreaves, "it gradually became accepted that the public had a constitutional right to know what their elected representatives were up to".

twitterpress freedom...

An unprecedented attempt by a British oil trading firm to prevent the Guardian reporting parliamentary proceedings collapsed today following a spontaneous online campaign to spread the information the paper had been barred from publishing.

Carter-Ruck, the law firm representing Trafigura, was accused of infringing the supremacy of parliament after it insisted that an injunction obtained against the Guardian prevented the paper from reporting a question tabled on Monday by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly.

Farrelly's question was about the implications for press freedom of an order obtained by Trafigura preventing the Guardian and other media from publishing the contents of a report related to the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast.

In today's edition, the Guardian was prevented from identifying Farrelly, reporting the nature of his question, where the question could be found, which company had sought the gag, or even which order was constraining its coverage.

But overnight numerous users of the social networking site Twitter posted details of Farrelly's question and by this morning the full text had been published on two prominent blogs as well as in the magazine Private Eye.

bloggers and tweeters...

From the Independent

Carter-Ruck, the most feared firm of libel lawyers in the country, beat a retreat yesterday as information that its client had hoped to suppress was spread across the internet by bloggers and tweeters.

Had the lawyers had their way, no one would have been allowed to report that an MP had asked a question that mentioned a report into alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast by the multinational firm Trafigura.

The company's lawyers, Carter-Ruck, obtained an injunction preventing anyone from mentioning this report. It banned those covered by it from saying who had asked the question of Parliament, to whom it was addressed, or what it was about. Almost the only fact that they could mention was that the injunction had been obtained by Carter-Ruck.


Thank goodness for bloggers and tweetering nuts. see toon at top.


The power of Twitter struck again today, as oil trader Trafigura dropped its injunction against the Guardian. With the help of the London legal firm Carter-Ruck, the company had successfully applied yesterday to the High Court for the gagging order which prevented the newspaper reporting Labour MP Paul Farrelly's written question to justice secretary Jack Straw (see above) concerning the company and its connections with the alleged dumping of toxic waste in Cote d'Ivoire.

After the Guardian posted an item online at 8.30pm yesterday, explaining that it was the subject of a ban – a ban which appeared to run roughshod over age-old rights to report parliamentary proceedings - users of Twitter started to make a mockery of the injunction in a way that the traditional media have always been unable to.

Stephen Fry tweeted: "Outrageous gagging order. It's in reference to the Trafigura oil dumping scandal. Grotesque and squalid"

and smoking does not kill....

"We informed Newsnight of the detailed evidence before the program was aired - yet they chose to proceed with their highly damaging and false assertions," he added in a statement.

The BBC initially attempted to justify the claims but had now accepted the allegations were wrong, the trader said. It had agreed to pay damages, which would be donated to charity, and broadcast an apology.

In September, the company and lawyers representing about 30,000 Ivorians agreed a pre-trial settlement to end a class action suit which had accused it of causing illness by dumping toxic waste in 2006.

Trafigura denied any wrongdoing and said the settlement, details of which were not disclosed in court, was not an admission of responsibility.

In a statement, the BBC said it had played "a leading role in bringing to the public's attention the actions of Trafigura in the illegal dumping of 500 tons of hazardous waste in Abidjan".

"In September, Trafigura agreed to pay victims of the waste around 30 million pounds in compensation for sickness suffered," the statement said.

"However, the experts in that case were not able to establish a link between the waste and serious long term consequences including deaths.

"In light of this, the BBC acknowledges that the evidence does not establish that Trafigura's waste caused deaths, miscarriages or serious or long term injuries."


It has taken years to "prove" that asbestos and smoking cigarettes are deadly... But as they are deadly only for "some " of us, one can always claim that "one has been smoking two packs since age 5 and lived till 97, only to die from being run over by a bus, for being too slow crossing the road". That is the exclusion of "statistics"... Even in criminal courts, defendants' lawyers sometimes argue that "was it the knife in the heart or was it that the victim suffered a heart attack prior to the goring... that killed the victim who, to say the least, was silly to be in the road of the knife...? We live on a strange planet in which we dump and crap on, while profiteering till we die from statistical anomalies...

go figure trafigura...

The oil-trading company Trafigura was yesterday accused of putting "self-interest above people's health and environment", after a ship carrying toxic sludge which was dumped in Africa was allowed to leave the port of Amsterdam with the noxious cargo on board.

The Swiss-based company, which last year made a profit of $1bn (£651m), faced the claim on the opening day of a trial in the Dutch city. The company is accused of intentionally exporting hazardous waste and concealing its nature when a vessel it had chartered, the Probo Koala, visited the Netherlands carrying hundreds of tonnes of chemical slops in July 2006.

The ship eventually left the port after Trafigura Beheer BV, the oil trader's Dutch subsidiary, was told it would have to pay significantly higher costs to process the waste. About a month later, the slops were illegally dumped in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan, making thousands of people ill.

Trafigura, which has always said it did not know that the waste was dangerous or that the chemicals would be dumped, denies the charges. The company is being prosecuted alongside the city of Amsterdam, waste disposal contractor Amsterdam Port Services (APS), the captain of the Probo Koala and a London-based employee of Trafigura.

foi ....

Since coming to office, Labor has conducted the most extensive overhaul of the Freedom of Information Act since its inception, and the first tranche of those changes takes effect today.

But why is this needed? The fact is, in the decade before Labor came to office, a culture of concealment and suppression crept in, and the nation moved away from an attitude of disclosure, transparency and accountability.

What's not secret is that this attitude of arrogance and avoidance of accountability wasn't lost on the Australian public. It contributed in no small part to the downfall of the Howard government.

The Coalition's practice of issuing conclusive certificates under the Freedom of Information Act was profound in its effect, successfully locking up information to prevent its release. Labor takes a starkly different view. We are determined to restore community trust in the way information is handled by government with major reform of the act.

Sweeping away a culture of secrecy

What Happened to having to prove what you say?

I note that the Guardian in the UK is having problems sorting out what issues it can legally pass on to the public. Whatever one thinks of that, it is certainly the opposite to the system in post Howard "New Order" where his extreme right government changed the majority of senior public servants to surreptitiously prevent disclosure or accountability.  The Guardian faces government regulations while the Murdoch Media Empire has no such limitations in Australia.

Howard fostered that support from the Murdoch Media Empire by his US methods of foreign policy and to assist his tenure of Prime Ministership.  Shortly before the 2007 election I wrote in this forum that I suspected the meeting with Howard and Rudd by the Media dictator could herald a change of government.  I depended on the report that at their meeting Murdoch had said to Howard to the effect "you have had your time"?

IMHO the Bill before Parliament at about that time was regarding the agreement of all parties to be Transparent and Accountable?  It was defeated unanimously on total partisan lines by the Liberal and National Parties.

The "freedom" to have a "free" hit on politicians and their families in Australia is rampant and should be subject to a powerful body such as the ACCC.

Howard's "honour" system with the media in his day was a joke to begin with and did untold damage to the fabric of our so-called democracy.  He stands convicted by his own actions as a War Criminal as is Blair and G.W. Bush.

There is no doubt that the media has enormous influence on the people of the nation in which they spew their de-regulated personal opinions.  This also occurs in Dictatorships where the State controls the information fed to the citizens.

In the final analysis, what is worse, an elected government supervising the content of the mass media or – an unelected profit seeking monopoly which solely decides what will, and what will not be passed on to the voters?

And, as in America where the financial giants blatantly BUY the votes of their members of parliament, in Australia the financial giants use their unrestricted ability to lie; deceive and literally assassinate politicians that they cannot buy.

And it worked against Whitlam and for Fraser; against Beasley and for Howard and a continuation of the latter.

Then, 2007, Murdoch created for Kevin Rudd the most stellar support that any previous P.M. could have imagined, and he was elected.

However, after Rudd’s implementation of the stimulus package, the Murdochracy took up the cudgels of the foreign owned miners while the Australian workers by-passed a massive recession without even being thus informed by the unaccountable media.

The only thing that the 2007 election proved to me was that the de-regulation of the Murdoch media allowed them to personally persecute the very same person that they had so favourably supported.  And this about turn was, to make Murdoch’s power more conclusive, in the middle of the term of Office of the Labor Party!

Then, to add insult to injury, Murdoch took a self confessed lying moron of little or no value - other than his back-stabbing of his leader – and by the use of well-known American negative politics, convinced the voters that he (Abbott) was the only choice to avoid the taxes on Foreign miners.  Fair dinkum.  NE OUBLIE.




Murdoch control is unacceptable in any independent nation.

The Murdoch Media Empire continues to ply its political bias in favour of the Coalition Conservatives even as the photo finish won by the Labor Party becomes cemented in history.  When Murdoch made his remarkable "backflip" on his support for Kevin Rudd due to purely personal financial motives, there wasn't any media hype about it at all.  But then, where is the media that is not wholly or in part a cog in Rupe's empire?

The [anti] Australian used as its reasons for the removal of the Kevin Rudd Labor party was solely aimed at their leader on some of the most absurd applications of black being white! This was so obvious with regard to the Murdoch’s 180 degrees reverse character assessment of the target Prime Minister.  

Some included Kevin's grasp of world affairs where he is still held in high esteem, and his clearly substantial academic record suddenly didn't suit Murdoch.  His honesty with the Australian people and the courage with which he faced the onslaught of a corrupt opposition and their foreign Corporation funders should have been appreciated rather than condemned by the people he had tried to protect and serve.

His efforts on improving education and schools while encouraging roof insulation were both ridiculed by the [anti] Australian especially the insulation situation which a judicial enquiry found was NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE SAFE WORKING CONDITIONS FOR A COMPANY'S EMPLOYEES.

As an ex-Unionist representative, I know this to be true.

Meanwhile, the foreign Corporation's Coalition partners gladly used the Murdoch Empire in the twisting and denying of facts to their own advantage.

The most important was the silencing of the "motor mouth" Abbott by not letting him succumb to the temptation of his admitted dishonesty.  When he made a speech effort he was cautioned NOT to answer questions but to pass the mike to one of his worn out Howard “used throw aways”.

But who was to highlight this to the public?  How was Rudd supposed to get his message through?  He was not even given a chance.

The shambles that followed can only be squarely placed at the feet of this predatory monster Murdoch in that he and his cronies knew that they were deceiving the voting public – and revelled in it.

Sure there was, as always, a desperate bid for survival by the wounded political party – in this case, it was portrayed as traitorous; cowardly and caused by the “gang of the entire unanimous Labor Caucus”.  A decision for which Murdoch had painted them into a corner with the inference that he would back off - if that very clever Deputy P.M. took over.  Struth.

The outcome was an almost complete abuse of democracy for which both major political parties were, and still are, responsible.

The result of that Murdoch controlled election is – or should be – a lesson to remember in the not-too-pleasant history of contemporary politics in Australia.

With our economy strong and our employment high, we should be thankful that Labor was in power when the financial meltdown occurred.

“Well might they say…” that the female is the weaker sex – this young lady Julia Gillard has shown enormous courage under unbelievably biased circumstances and while I do not agree with the Afghanistan situation, I am proud of her as my Prime Minister. NE OUBLIE.







freedom of the ether...

Campaigners in Thailand have called for the dropping of charges against a journalist who is being is being prosecuted over comments posted on a news website that were critical of the country’s royal family. If convicted, she faces up to 50 years in jail.

In a case that is being seen as test of the country’s questionable commitment to free speech as well as an examination of its controversial “lese majeste” laws, a court in Bangkok is hearing evidence against Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of an online news site called Prachatai, or Thai People. Ms Premchaiporn is not accused of posting the comments herself – with no small irony that person was acquitted in a separate hearing – but she is charged with failing to delete them from the website.

“Chiranuch should not be in the dock,” said Benjamin Zawacki, a regional spokesman for Amnesty International. “The comments for which she is being held responsible should not be prohibited in the first place, much less when they are posted by someone else.”

thus the lords show they are anti-democratic...

The House of Lords passed an amendment to the 2000 Anti-Terrorism Act that says that Hezbollah as a whole is a terrorist organization. This text comes into effect on March 1, 2019 at midnight.

Hezbollah is a network of the Lebanese Resistance to the Israeli invader. After being armed by Syria, it has been since 2005 by Iran.

It now has one third of the seats in the Lebanese Parliament and three ministers in the government.

An Israeli campaign aims to equate Hezbollah with a terrorist organization by blaming various attacks in Lebanon (including the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri) and abroad: Ankara (1992) Buenos Aires (1992 and 1994) , Istanbul (2011) and Burgas (2012). What Hezbollah categorically denies.

On the basis of the Israeli campaign, several countries, including the United States, consider him a terrorist. Cutting the pear in half, the European Union has made a distinction between the armed wing of the movement, which it also calls terrorist, and its civil branch with which it has relations. Leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom dissociates itself from the position of Brussels and adopts that of Washington.

The House of Lords motion was drafted by the new Minister of the Interior, anti-Islam and pro-Israel Sajid Javid (photo). He hopes to take control of the Conservative Party and become prime minister.

Refusing to draw the conclusions of the democratic election of 70 Hezbollah deputies, Elizabeth Richard, US ambassador to Beirut, denounced her presence in the government two weeks ago. She had expressed the opposition of the State Department to Prime Minister Saad Hariri.


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The UK Lords were never democratic... They tolerate the present system because they still have many privileges... The UK is the least democratic country in the world after the USA (electoral colleges) and Saudi Arabia (which is not a country but a fiefdom). God help us should Sajid Javid become Prime Minister of the UK... Gus is a fierce atheist.