When shop owner Lucy Wilkes decided on a window display for her business, she knew it would ruffle a few feathers. Two vintage, kitsch chairs, standing side-by-side, one decorated in pages from Playboy featuring nude women.
However, even she was astonished at the level of controversy the display attracted among visitors to her shop The Print Room, in Lewes, East Sussex. She was stunned when police ordered her to remove one of the offending items after a customer
complained that it was obscene .
Clearly ignorant policemen claimed to Wilkes her vintage furniture contravened the Obscene Publications Act because it is decorated with 1950s Playboy magazines, which features images of topless women. Perhaps the police would have been better
advised to cite the Indecent Displays Act or the more usual Public Order Act. It seems the police involved are in need of a little basic legal training.
The astonished retailer was forced to hide the seat at the back of her shop and has now draped it with a public health warning. The ironic sign reads: This chair has been deemed inappropriate for public view. Please take care.
Designer Laura Diez, who made the chair, insisted her creation was tasteful . She said: I can't believe anyone in their right mind could actually be offended by this. I used 1950s Playboys which are no more scandalous than the front
cover of some men's magazines which are on show in any newsagents.
A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: Police attended a Lewes shop following a complaint from a member of the public regarding an item that was on display in the shop window. The member of public was offended by the images displayed on a chair and
the shop owner was politely asked by police to remove it from public view, which he voluntarily did.
Press TV have issued another propaganda peice suggesting that Ofcom are set to ban the satellite channel from broadcasting with a UK licence.
Press TV writes in a website posting:
London has spared no effort in its two-year-long battle against Press TV. Its media tool, Ofcom, is now about to revoke the channel's broadcast license, hoping this desperate measure will silence criticism.
And in a coincidently timed piece, the Wall Street Journal points out that Iran is regularly jamming BBC programmes targeted at Iran:
As uprisings rolled across the Middle East this year, Iran stepped up its jamming of the BBC, Voice of America and other Western networks with Persian-language news channels. The move is intended to prevent Iranian audiences from seeing
foreign broadcasts the Iranian government finds objectionable, five networks protested in a joint statement this month.
Some 45% to 60% of Iranians watch satellite TV, according to estimates from the state media company and an Iranian research center, exceeding the number believed to use the Internet. Iran so far seems to be winning a struggle to filter out
unwanted TV content and broadcast its own propaganda: The country jams channels like the BBC on Western satellites even as Iran's state media company broadcasts pro-government news on some of the same satellites, and at times has aired forced
confessions of political detainees.
Iran is having it both ways, said a U.S. State Department official. While they benefit from the international community's respect for 'freedom of expression' and 'freedom of the airwaves,' they deny that same right to their own
citizens, aggressively jamming Persian-language broadcasts from other countries.
Websites targeting Olympics visitors have been closed down by police. For example sites purporting to sell luxury goods were using the events' signature image of five Olympic rings to make people believe they were endorsed.
Police from the UK's cyber crime unit have identified hundreds of websites that could be used to dupe visitors to next year's London Olympics. They have already closed around 2,000 sites set up by criminals and purporting to sell luxury goods,
and are monitoring hundreds of others that have popped up on the web with the games in mind.
We think there is some evidence to suggest they are waiting to commit fraud, Janet Williams, the deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan police, said. These websites have been set up and are in a holding position, and we will
monitor them to see if they are used for criminal purposes.
Williams, the head of the e-crime unit, said ticket fraud was just one way criminals would try to exploit the games. We would be naive to think that it would be the only threat during the Olympics, she told the Guardian. Her unit, which
has a staff of 106, is working with other agencies, including the government communications headquarters GCHQ, to intercept traffic that might point to an attack on London's internet infrastructure, eg via denial of service attacks.
Iran has blocked the website of the British embassy in Tehran following a diplomatic crisis last month that led to the closure of the UK mission.
The Foreign Office said that the government's website in Iran, which had continued working despite the closure of the embassy, had been deliberately filtered by the Iranian authorities.
People inside Iran who try to visit ukiniran.fco.gov.uk, are re-directed to a web page that reads: Access to the webiste is denied according to [Iran's] computer crimes regulations.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, said: Britain's website in Iran has now been added to the list of thousands of other internet sites deliberately censored by the Iranian authorities. Hague said Iran's move was counter-productive
and ill-judged :
It will also make it harder for Iranian nationals to access information about visiting the UK. And it is further proof to the rest of the world the Iranian government's dire record on freedom of speech and human rights in general. This action
will not deter Britain from continuing to engage with the Iranian people, including through the internet.
Sky Broadband has begun blocking Newzbin2 after receiving a court order telling it to do so.
The ISP is the second major internet provider to block access to the Usenet indexing website, after BT started doing so around the end of October. However, major rivals TalkTalk and Virgin Media said that they have received no such court order
themselves, and are not blocking the site.
We have received a court order requiring us to block access to this illegal website, which we did on 13 December, Sky said in a statement: Moving forward, as and when clear and legally robust evidence of copyright theft is presented, we
will take appropriate action in respect to site blocking, which will include complying with court orders.
The European branch of the Motion Picture Association (MPA) representing Walt Disney, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Brothers won a court order in July that forced BT to block access to Newzbin2. In early November,
shortly after BT began blocking Newzbin, the MPA sent letters to all the major ISPs, saying the organisation intended to seek similar court orders and asking whether the ISPs intended to fight against this move.
The MPA has also gone to BT to seek a block of the Pirate Bay file-sharing website, but BT has said it will not institute further blocks without a court order for each case.
Nominet has been suspending domain names at the mere request of law enforcement agencies, without a fair trial. While most of these sites have been dodgy, some should not have been removed. This loophole in the justice system could be
exploited and mistakes are inevitable, leading to deliberate or accidental censorship.
Despite ORG's demands that transparency and evidence remain the foundation of any policy, law enforcement agencies have refused to budge. They say they lack the resources and powers to use the courts.
ORG, ISPA and LINX all announced that they were unable to support the initial Nominet Issue Group statement. It is incredibly important for justice to be transparent and open to all.
Nominet have asked the Issue group for a further meeting, where ORG will explain why using the courts is a vital safeguard.
Search engines asked to help with copyright censorship
In addition to the discussions about a new, faster website censorship plan, Ed Vaizey is now also hosting roundtables between copyright owners and search engines. The aim is to tell search engines to do more to stop infringement by
blocking, promoting or demoting certain sites.
Just like previous discussions about website censorship, these proposals have no basis in evidence, come seemingly at the say so of rights-holders, with no involvement from civil society. We're urgently looking to tell DCMS why private policing
of the Internet is a bad idea.
We have been invited to the next round of discussions: tomorrow, with minister Ed Vaizey. This is a big win for you and ORG. Now we can try to open the process up to everyone.
In the dying days of the Thatcher government illegal raves attracted thousands of revellers to tranquil rural areas, where they enjoyed dancing the night away.
In a desperate bit to retain censorship control of live music, councils are trying to invoke public fears about raves a shock tactic to defend their licensing powers that have been used to suffocate the British live music scene.
Councils have cynically warned that plans to lift regulations on live entertainments will leave local residents powerless to silence raves and other music events, leading to a noise nuisance free-for-all . A London local authority has even
warned the reforms will make it harder to silence the Notting Hill carnival.
Under current rules anyone holding an event judged to be a live entertainment is obliged to apply and even pay hundreds of pounds for a license from their local authority.
But John Penrose, the tourism minister, has realised that these rules are pointless bureaucracy , especially as the rules are even applied to school plays, folk duos and even Punch and Judy shows.
Ministers are consulting on plans to free any event with an attendance of less than 5,000 people from needing a license. They hope this will make it easier for local communities to hold fetes and street parties.
But local authorities have written to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport warning that the change will lead to a noise nuisance free-for-all .
Councillor Chris White of the Local Government Box Tickers Association, which represent 350 councils, said:
These proposals go too far.
In its intention to cut red tape and box-ticking for village fetes, school concerts and amateur plays, this will inadvertently be giving carte blanche for noisy parties, concerts and all night raves attended by thousands.
A Labour councillor is under investigation after posting a string of silly comments on Twitter, including remarks about the attractiveness of his female opponents.
In one silly tweet, Julian Swainson, the Labour group leader on Waveney District Council in Suffolk, said: It reminds me of the council chamber game "Who would you shag if you had to?" looking at the opposing benches.
Another warned David Cameron that he might want to be careful in case he became the victim of a lynch mob like former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi.
Last night, the Tories sent a formal letter of complaint to Labour leader Ed Miliband, ludicrously arguing that the communications were so grossly offensive that Swainson could have broken the law.
Swainson's messages on the social networking site included attacks on Tory MP Nadine Dorries, a description of the Tories as evil bastards, the Dark Ages party and a semi-pornographic reference to Santa Claus. He also described Tory MP
Robert Halfon as the Halfwit for Harlow , made baseless innuendos about the Prime Minister and littered tweets with expletives.
I gave a talk on Wednesday night to the Studienbibliothek in Hamburg. Entitled Left, Right and Islamism the talk explored the ways in which the responses of both left and right to Islamism have betrayed of basic principles of freedom and
liberty. One of the key themes in the discussion afterwards was about how the liberal fear of giving offence has helped created the space for Islamists to take offence. The more that we worry that people will be offended by a book or a play or a
cartoon or an idea or a thought, the more we give licence for people to be so offended, and the more that people will seize the opportunity to feel offended.
It is not just Islamists who live by outrage. Returning to Britain, I discover in the three days I've been away three incidents that perfectly illustrate how everyone now wants to feel offended -- or rather how the authorities, from the police to
trade union bureaucrats, seem to want everyone to feel offended.
BBC world news Pakistan's cable TV association has taken BBC World News off air after screening of a documentary that it deemed anti-Pakistan.
The BBC's World News has been taken off the air in Pakistan after broadcasting a documentary that was deemed to be critical of the country. Secret Pakistan explored accusations by CIA officials and western diplomats that Pakistan was
failing to meet its commitments in the war on terror .
Khalid Arain, president of the country's cable TV association, said operators had blocked the BBC service as a result.
The BBC condemned the decision. A spokesman said:
We are deeply concerned that BBC World News has been taken off air by the Cable Association of Pakistan.
We condemn any action that threatens our editorial independence and prevents audiences from accessing our impartial international news service. We would urge that BBC World News and other international news services are reinstated as soon as
Pakistan has said that it was looking at summoning the BBC to demand an explanation over a documentary about the Taliban that has left the BBC World News channel blocked nationwide. Cable operators pulled the channel late Tuesday amid anger over
NATO air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Khalid Arain, chairman of the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan, confirmed that BBC World News was off-air nationwide and that other Western news channels had been ordered not to indulge in anti-Pakistan propaganda . [That's ok
,there's easily enough anti-Pakistan truth to fill the schedules].
Pakistan's media regulator, PEMRA, said via a spokesman: The authorities can summon BBC representatives and seek an explanation from them. Pakistan was not legally bound to show any foreign channels and was also monitoring Britain's Sky
News for any objectionable content.
As British journalism faces the most significant media public inquiry in a generation, Julian Petley talks to former Press Council chief Louis Blom-Cooper.
Louis Blom-Cooper: What we actually need is an independent body which carries out monitoring --- independent monitoring of the press. The word regulation implies, I think, to some people, some form of executive power, and what I
would propose does not contain executive power.
Any form of public intervention to create such a body would require legislation in the first instance. But one absolutely does not want the supervision to be carried out by government itself, rather the government should establish an independent,
standing body by means of statute, namely a Commission. The statute establishing the Commission would also set up an Appointments Commission which would consist of, for example, the chairmen of the British Library, the British Museum, the
Association of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of Universities, the Lord Chief Justice of England, the Lord President of the Court of Sessions; they wouldn't be specifically named people, but the people who held these offices at the time of
selection. One would thus put between the institution of government and the public itself a wholly independent body, independently selected.
British film director Ken Russell, who was Oscar-nominated for his 1969 film Women In Love , has died at the age of 84. His son, Alex, said he died peacefully in his sleep in a hospital on Sunday.
During his career, he became known for his controversial films including Women In Love, which featured Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling nude. He also directed the infamous religious drama The Devils and The Who's rock opera, Tommy
, in 1975.
Russell frequently crossed swords with the film censors at the BBFC who took issue with Billion Dollar Brain , Women in Love, The Devils, and Crimes of Passion.
Perhaps a suitable Melon Farming tribute is a summary of Russell's strength of character in pushing through his outrageous vision for The Devils. He was up against the BBFC, his own distributors and the British establishment.
The Devils was first seen by the BBFC in an unfinished rough cut on 27 January 1971. At around the same time, this rough cut was also shown to senior executives from Warner Brothers, the film's distributor.
Both the BBFC and Warners expressed strong reservations about the strong religious and sexual context of the film, which seemed likely to provoke significant controversy. Warners and the BBFC therefore drew up separate lists of the cuts they
would require before the film could be distributed in the UK. Warners were content with their own plus the additional cuts requested by the BBFC and a full list of required changes was forwarded to the director.
The cuts were intended to reduce:
(i) the explicitness and duration of certain sexual elements, including an orgy of nuns
(ii) elements of violence and gore during an interrogation scene and the final burning of the character played by Oliver Reed
(iii) scenes that mixed sexual activity and religion in a potentially inflammatory fashion.
A modified - but still technically unfinished - version of the film was seen again by the BBFC on 8 April 1971, incorporating many (but not all) of the cuts requested by both the BBFC and by Warners. Ken Russell had toned
down or removed what had been regarded as the most difficult scenes, including the entire Rape of Christ sequence in which a group of nuns cavort on a crucifix, whilst hoping that the significant reductions he had already made would
perhaps allow certain other shots to remain. The BBFC requested further reductions in four sequences. Russell responded by complying fully with three of the cuts but insisted that the fourth additional cut could not be made properly because it
would create continuity problems.
On 18 May 1971 the BBFC awarded an X certificate to the cut version of the film. Because of the scale of the changes made to the film (including the deletion of one entire scene) it is difficult to calculate
accurately how much was removed from the film between January and May 1971. However, it is safe to say that several minutes were removed.
The resultant version suffered cuts as follows:
A scene showing nuns assaulting an effigy of the cross was deleted (approximately 30s)
An enema scene loses some details
The crushing of Grandier's legs loses details.
Grandier's tongue torture loses details
Shots of a priest being assaulted by nuns after the King's visit are missing
Jeanne masturbating with a chard bone was cut
Whippings scenes throughout were removed
A Timely Tribute to Ken Russell. The BFI re-release of his Masterpiece, The Devils
After much arm-twisting the BFI has indeed persuaded Warner Bros to let them handle The Devils, and a packed two-disc lovingly-curated special edition will be out next March.
I'll get the bad news out of the way right now: as already spotted, it's DVD only, and it's the 1971 British theatrical cut, not the 2004 restoration. Since BFI DVD Publishing is demonstrably run by Blu-ray evangelists and has a policy of
sourcing the longest available version of the films they put out, you probably don't need to live at 221B Baker Street to work out the reasons for this.
But that really does appear to be all the bad news. I've seen the full specs, and it looks like an absolute blinder of a release - and hopefully all will be revealed in a matter of days.
Who are the press? What is the media? What defines journalists? These are questions Lord Leveson will have to address before he can move on to consider questions of press regulation.
How do we identify the press when it's not just in print but online? Where are the boundaries between traditional and citizen journalism? What differentiates the broadcast, print and online worlds of the media now that they all
provide video and text based content across PCs, smart phones, tablet devices and, shortly, internet-connected televisions?
Why are journalists subject to comprehensive rules, including impartiality, when they broadcast? And yet when their material is accessed on catch-up services, or as originated video-on-demand content, or on newspaper websites, they are bound by
no such rules.
The Government has published its new Cyber Security Strategy, setting out how the UK will support economic prosperity, protect national security and safeguard the public's way of life by building a more trusted and resilient digital environment.
Around 6% of the UK's GDP is generated by the internet and is set to grow -- making it a larger sector than either utilities or agriculture -- with the internet boom predicted to create 365,000 jobs over the next five years . We want to create
new opportunities for businesses and help build a thriving cyber security industry.
But our increasing dependence on digital technologies has given rise to new risks. For example, there are more than 20,000 malicious emails on Government networks each month, 1,000 of which are deliberately targeted.
Summary of some of the key actions in the strategy:
Pioneering a joint public/private sector cyber security hub : This will allow the Government and the private sector to exchange actionable information on cyber threats and manage the response to cyber attacks. A pilot will begin in
December with five business sectors - defence, telecoms, finance, pharmaceuticals and energy.
On tackling cyber crime, the strategy sets out commitments to:
Expand the use of cyber-Specials to help the police tackle cyber crime : The Metropolitan Police's Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) has been making use of Police Specials with relevant specialist skills to help tackle cyber crime.
We will encourage all police forces to make use of cyber-Specials . We will involve people from outside law enforcement to help tackle cyber crime as part of the NCA cyber crime unit.
Create a cyber crime unit within the National Crime Agency by 2013 : The unit will help deal with the most serious national-level cyber crime and to be part of the response to major national incidents. It will draw together the work of the
e-crime unit in SOCA and PCeU and provide support to all elements of the NCA, and all police forces.
Encourage the police and the courts to make more use of existing cyber sanctions for cyber offences : Additional powers are already available when there is strong reason to believe someone is likely to commit further serious cyber crime
offences. For example, a range of terms -- including restriction on access to the internet and prohibition from using instant messaging services -- have been used to restrict the ability of organised criminals to commit online fraud. We will
publish new guidance aimed at increasing the use of cyber sanctions for cyber offences.
Make it easier to report financially motivated cyber crime by establishing a single reporting system for businesses and the public : Action Fraud -- the national fraud reporting and advice centre run by the National Fraud Authority -- will
become the central portal for reporting any financially motivated cyber crime.
On prevention and raising public awareness, the strategy sets out commitments to:
Bolster the role of Get Safe Online : Everyone has a crucial role to play in keeping cyberspace safe, including the public. Get Safe Online already provides independent, trustworthy advice on staying safe on the internet. We are increasing
our investment to make Get Safe Online the single, authoritative place to go for the public to get the latest information on internet threats and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves.
Develop kitemarks for cyber security software: This will help consumers and businesses navigate the range of cyber security solutions available, allowing them to make more informed choices and avoid unnecessary scareware .
An internet user will not face prosecution over a tweet exposing Vincent Tabak's interest in violent pornography during the trial.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC was considering bringing contempt of court proceedings against the unnamed tweeter for breaching a court order by exposing Vincent Tabak's past that was judged to be best left out of the trial.
Because he co-operated and the message was swiftly removed, Grieve has decided not to pursue the case. The tweeter is understood not to have been a journalist.
Human rights heroes from various walks of life were rewarded for their achievements at Liberty's Human Rights Awards last night.
Inspiring young people, artists and campaigners were honoured along with dedicated lawyers, journalists and politicians at the ceremony at the capital's Southbank Centre.
The event, which was hosted by comedian Marcus Brigstocke, was attended by Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, Attorney General Dominic Grieve and Baroness Hale, as well as senior figures from the worlds of law, media and the arts. Sir Patrick
Stewart, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper were amongst those handing out the awards.
And Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti presented the Norwegian Ambassador Kim Traavik with a special tribute to the people of Norway in honour of the victims of 22 July 2011 and the dignity and humanity of
the country's response.
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:
We are full of admiration and appreciation for the dedication and commitment to the protection of rights and freedoms shown by all our winners and nominees.
It's been an interesting year for human rights and the fight to defend the Human Rights Act, which has never been more vital, is far from over.
But we're acutely aware that we're far from alone in that promotion of human dignity, equal treatment and fairness and Liberty is immensely proud to honour our candidates' achievements.
The Liberty Human Rights Awards 2011 winners and category nominees in full were:
Human Rights Young Person of the Year:
Cerie Bullivant -- for his inspirational and courageous personal campaign against the unjust control order regime and proposed Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill. The other nominees were Zin Derfoufi, Abigail Stepnitz
and Chris Whitehead.
Human Rights Arts Award, in association with the Southbank centre:
Penny Woolcock, screenwriter and film director of On the Streets -- for her compassion and commitment to those living and surviving on the margins. The other nominees were the Iceandfire Theatre Company and David R. Dow for Killing Time:
One Man's Race to Stop an Execution.
Human Rights Lawyer of the Year:
Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas Mercer -- for his integrity and courage in the face of dissembling and denial of human rights abuses by British forces in Iraq. The other nominees were Fiona Murphy, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, and Hugh Southey
QC, of Tooks Chambers.
Human Rights Close to Home Award:
Janis Sharp -- for her passionate and sustained campaign to protect her son, Gary McKinnon, from facing extradition to the USA. The other nominees were Janet Alder, Davies, Gore & Lomax LLP and Housing Justice.
Independent Voice of the Year:
Peter Oborne -- for calling to account the most powerful in our country, especially in relation to the shameful history of complicity in torture during the War on Terror . The other nominees were Joe Plomin, Paul Kenyon & BBC
Panorama and Tom Watson MP.
Lifetime Achievement Award:
John Hendy QC , from Old Square Chambers -- in recognition of a career dedicated to defending and upholding the rights of workers and trade unionists in this country.
Human Rights Long Walk Award:
Private Eye -- for keeping the powerful on their toes and the public informed and entertained -- and Tony Bunyan & Statewatch -- for dedication to openness, democracy and informed debate about European institutions, keeping us
reliably informed and suitably engaged for the last 20 years.
The decision by the Court of Appeal to overturn the public order conviction of a young suspect who repeatedly said 'fuck' while being searched for drugs, was described as unacceptable by police representatives last night. They claimed the
ruling would undermine respect for officers. [They probably meant undermining 'fear' of officers ,who can currently hand out their own brand of 'justice' using the Public Order Act'].
Overturning Denzel Cassius Harvey's conviction, Mr Justice Bean said officers were so regularly on the receiving end of the rather commonplace expletive that it was unlikely to cause them harassment, alarm or distress .
Harvey was fined £ 50 for using strong language while they attempted to search him for cannabis in Hackney, east London. He told officers:
Fuck this man. I ain't been smoking nothing. When the search revealed no drugs, he continued: Told you, you wouldn't find fuck all. Asked whether he had a middle name, he replied: No, I've already fucking told you so.
Magistrates at Thames Youth Court found him guilty in March last year after hearing that Harvey's expletives were uttered in a public area while a group of teenage bystanders gathered around.
Appealing against his conviction, Harvey claimed that none of those within earshot, especially the two hardened police officers, would have been upset by his swearing.
Mr Justice Bean agreed that the expletives he used were heard
all too frequently by officers on duty and were unlikely to have greatly disturbed them. The judge added that it was quite impossible to infer that the group of young people who were in the vicinity were likely to have experienced alarm or
distress at hearing these rather commonplace swear words used.
Peter Smyth, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said:
If judges are going to say you can swear at police then everyone is going to start doing it. I'm not saying that police officers are going to go and hide in the corner and cry if someone tells them to 'F' off, but verbal abuse is not acceptable
and this is the wrong message to be sending out.
Nominet is consulting and developing its procedures for taking down internet .uk domains when presented with claims of them being used illegally.
Under the latest changes, Nominet will be able to deny a site suspension request unless police provide a court order or the site is accused of putting the public at serious risk.
Early draft recommendations came in for criticism because police would be able to instruct Nominet to take down unlimited numbers of domains without a court order. Following previous coverage, many El Reg readers were outraged that the proposals
didn't seem to do enough to protect ordinary .uk owners from over-zealous cops.
The new draft recommendations state that should a suspension notice be objected to by a domain's registrant, Nominet would be able to consult an independent expert , likely an outside lawyer, before deciding whether to ask police for a
A new revision also draws a distinction between serious cases of botnets, phishing and fake pharmaceuticals sales, which pose an imminent risk to internet users, and cases of counterfeiting, which are perhaps not as risky.
Nominet would draw a distinction between the two scenarios. If it received a suspension request relating to a low risk crime, such as alleged counterfeiting, it would have to inform the registrant, giving them an opportunity to object
and/or rectify the problem, before it suspended the domain name.
The policy has stated in all drafts that it would not be applicable to private complainants, such as intellectual property interests, and that hasn't changed. We're excluding all civil disputes, Blowers said. If the MPAA [for example]
wanted to bring down 25,000 domains associated with online piracy, that would fall outside of this process.
The policy has also been tweaked with respect to free speech issues. To take down an overtly racist or egregiously pornographic site, Nominet would not suspend the domain name without a court order.
The recommendations are still in draft form but it is intended that the final version will be implemented early in 2012.
A spokesperson for LINX, representing ISPs said that the organisation fears social networks, online auction houses and similar sites could be unfairly taken down by cops if their users upload dodgy material. Its statement reads:
A domain owner should be allowed to defend themselves in court. We are also concerned that the law enforcement agencies' proposal does not limit suspension to domains where the domain owner had criminal intent itself: this could place at risk
any domain with user-generated content, such as auction sites and social networking.
LINX members are committed to helping the police combat criminal behaviour online, but all such action needs to be balanced and proportionate, and respect the property rights of legitimate businesses. We would welcome suspension of domains held
by criminal enterprises, but to protect the innocent suspension should be ordered by a court.
Nominet will conduct a further round of public consultation before implementing a policy for dealing with domains associated with criminal activity. The Nominet Board communique states:
Further research and legal advice was presented in relation to the ongoing policy development for dealing with domain names associated with criminal activity. The Board agreed to conduct a public consultation prior to implementing the final
Tory-run Barnet Council made a complaint against a local blogger that, if set as precedent, could criminalise the work of citizen journalist/bloggers across the country.
The council has already been criticised in the past for trying to restrict local bloggers from reporting on its activities. It recently went a step further by reporting a blogger critical of its activities to the Information Commissioner, arguing
it had to register as a Data Controller in order to carry on monitoring its activities.
Derek Dishman writes at the Mr Mustard blog on issues relating to Barnet Council. He regularly makes FOI requests and recently discovered the council had appointed change and innovation manager , Jonathan Tunde-Wright, for around
£ 50,000 a year. The job description included phrases like delivery of system thinking interventions . The appointment was justifiably ridiculed.
As a result the Council complained to the Information Commissioner that Dishman had broken the law (worth a £ 5000 fine) because he had processed personal data unfairly and had no protection under the
Data Protection Act.
The Information Commissioner rejected that. So Barnet Council came up with another wheeze
Journalist David Hencke, who uncovered the story, explains what happened next:
Initially rebuffed the council then came up with an extraordinary description of what Mr Dishman was allowed to blog without being forced to register or be prosecuted for unfairly processing data.
According to Barnet the only things bloggers can write about is their own personal data, their own family defined as people related by blood or marriage and their own household, anybody living in their house or flat.
Everything else requires registration and can be subject to legal challenge.
Imagine that! Such a restriction would put nearly every blog in the country out of business.
Thankfully, the Information Commissioner rejected that definition by Barnet Council too.
David Hencke adds:
If Barnet had succeeded it would have had enormous implications and costs for bloggers across the country. As Conservatives who are committed to transparency, the council should know better. They need to put up and shut up!
Striptease artist Phyllis Dixey's revues at the Whitehall Theatre in London were legendary, circa 1940. She was a pioneering performer whose daring routine pushed back the boundaries of public decency in 1940s Britain.
But a plan to honour Phyllis Dixey, the first stripper to appear in London's West End, with an English Heritage blue plaque has met with resistance from pathetic whingers that personify middle England.
English Heritage wants to place the plaque outside Dixey's former home in an art deco mansion block in Surbiton. However, the plan has run into opposition from residents of Wentworth Court concerned about the attention the plaque would bring to
Dixey, a music hall entertainer, lived in the block during the late 1930s, just before she found fame as the Queen of Striptease . Her early shows attracted the attentions of police and authorities but were eventually tolerated and her
performances at the Whitehall Theatre became a fixture of wartime and post-war London.
The wording of the proposed plaque is: Phyllis Dixey 1914 to 1964, Striptease Artiste lived here in flat number 15.
English Heritage has contacted all residents in the block to get permission, but they have so far refused to grant it.
The residents' association has suggested to English Heritage a different form of words, such as burlesque dancer - but its request has been turned down, on the grounds that burlesque describes an American tradition.
Nigel Bruce, the head of the residents' association, said: Eyebrows were raised when it was discussed at the AGM. Part of the concern was the title that they were thinking of putting on the plaque. It would certainly raise the eyebrows of
passers-by. He added: We have asked if there is any other wording we could have in its place.
One resident opposed to the plaque said: The word striptease leads you to a certain visual image. I know that is her history ...BUT... I would want it to be said in the nicest way possible. People would go 'It's the stripper building.'
Dixey's family are also opposed to the plan, saying the current wording gives a unfortunate impression of their relative. They are also calling for English Heritage to change the wording.
Oliver Dixey, whose grandfather was the dancer's brother, said: It has upset some of the family. To be fair, she was a stripper. There are no bones about it. ...BUT... we would prefer for her to be called a fan dancer.
English Heritage's blue plaques panel, which includes Stephen Fry, the broadcaster, shows no signs of backing down. Minutes from a meeting say: Having revisited the various options, the team remained confident that the original proposed
inscription offered the most accurate description of Dixey's occupation and should be retained.
BT has started blocking Newzbin 2 as ordered by a UK court.
Newzbin 2 is a members-only site which indexes material shared in Usenet discussion forums. The site is being blocked via legal actions of the Motion Picture Association, who managed to get the UK court to block the site.
We've heard that the British Telecom censorship of the free web has begun, the group behind Newzbin 2 told the BBC. It also said that 93.5% of its active UK users have downloaded workaround software developed by them to bypass the block.
The group would not divulge how it worked.
Newzbin2 shall go on, its users shall continue to access the site and its facilities, the Newzbin team told the BBC. Nothing has changed and they [the MPA] have no change after paying millions of dollars in legal fees.
The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has asked two UK internet service providers (ISPs) to consent to a court order that would force them to block their customers' access to a copyright-infringing website.
A ZDNet report said the MPA told it that it had sent letters to Virgin Media and TalkTalk referring to the recent order by Mr Justice Arnold and asked the major UK ISPs whether they would consent to a court order requiring them to impede
subscriber access to the Newzbin2 website .
TalkTalk said in a statement: We are considering our position since there are some objectionable elements to the proposed injunction. We will only block access to a website if ordered to do so by a court. .
Virgin Media also confirmed that it had received MPA's letter and that it would only act on receipt of a court order. A Virgin Media spokesperson said in a statement: As a responsible ISP, we will comply with any court order addressed to us
but strongly believe such deterrents need to be accompanied by compelling legal alternatives, such as our agreement with Spotify, which give consumers access to content at the right price.
The government is to change the tax rules that have allowed retailers to avoid paying VAT by sending goods from the Channel Islands.
Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) will not apply to goods sent from the Channel Islands to the UK from 1st April 2012.
The tax relief has been used increasingly in recent years by companies selling CDs and DVDs online, such as Play.com, Tesco and Amazon. The government said the relief was now costing £ 140m a year.
The maximum price of the goods allowed under LVCR was cut from £ 18 to £ 15 on 1 November following an announcement in the Budget in March.
These reforms will ensure that UK companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, can compete on a level playing field with those larger companies with the resources to set up operations in the Channel Islands, said David Gauke,
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.
LVCR was originally established as a VAT exemption for goods coming from outside the EU. The idea was to prevent EU members having to collect small amounts of VAT, when collecting it would cost more than it was worth. The issue has been that the
Channel Islands are treated as being outside the EU for VAT purposes.
The government said that LVCR will continue to apply to goods coming from other countries outside the EU.
Jersey's Economic Development Minister, Senator Alan Maclean, said more than 1,700 people were employed in the fulfilment industry across the Channel Islands.
Scottish comedian Limmy has backtracked over a series of aggressive Tweets against Margaret Thatcher and the Royal Family, after they sparked calls for him to be sacked by the BBC.
The comic, real name Brian Limond, said: I have deleted my tweets, and I'd like to apologise for any offence caused. It is never my intention to offend.
His Twitter rant started with a comment on William urging FIFA to relax its ban on the England football team wearing Remembrance Day Poppies. He tweeted: Would Prince William write to FIFA on behalf of the Scotland team wearing poppies? No.
Cos he thinks ENGLAND won the war.
That was followed by: I'd love to slide a samurai sword up Prince William's arse to the hilt, then yank it towards me like a door that won't fucking open.;
Of the Tories, Limmy wrote: 'England voted in the Tories KNOWING what would happen, just like Germany voted in the Nazis KNOWING what would happen.
After that attracted the attention of Tories he said: This is fucking excellent, I've got a shower of Tory cunts coming after me, retweeting everything. COME INTAE ME, TORY SCUM, COME INTAE ME!!!!
When criticised over this, he changed his avatar to Stalin, and then to a picture of Thatcher with Die Now written in red over it.'
Tory MP Louise Mensch took up the rebuke. She tweeted: How is it possible for a working comedian to put up an avatar of an old woman w/ red line over her throat & DIE NOW written across her face? Violence against an old woman totally
beyond "free speech".
She then enquired about Limmy's employment with the BBC... and Limmy reverted his avatar back to the photograph of himself, and issued the apology.
It was a cultural turning point for the country. John Mortimer QC --- who went on to create Rumpole of the Bailey --- appeared for the defence and saw the case as standing at the crossroads of our liberty, at the boundaries of our freedom
to think and say and draw and write what we please .
For the prosecution, however, it was a fight to hold back what they viewed as a tide of filth and immorality that was threatening to engulf Britain.
Their case amounted to a solemn declaration that unless sex took place within the confines of marriage it was kinky and diseased.
Brian Leary QC, the Crown Prosecutor, elaborated on his horror of inflatable rubber dolls and his amazement at the existence of sundry mechanical aids, advertised primarily for divorcees . He also maintained that rock n roll music
was a coded plea for sexual perversion.
A man accused of possessing child pornography has been cleared after a judge heard his videos were taken from terrestrial TV.
Police who raided the home of previously convicted sex offender Neil Waters found a DVD containing 40 excerpts from films which had been screened on television.
None of the films was pornographic, and they could be legitimately and legally viewed by the public, Gloucester Crown Court was told.
Judge Jamie Tabor ruled that whatever motive Waters had for gathering the film clips together, they could not be regarded as indecent within the meaning of the law.
On hearing his ruling, prosecutor Virginia Cornwall said the Crown would not continue with the nine charges against Waters of making indecent images of children between.
Giving his ruling, Judge Tabor said he had viewed a selection of the clips and they were undoubtedly of children but they would not be considered by the public to be indecent nowadays - and probably would not have been seen as indecent even 30
years ago. If the case went to trial, he said, the jury would not be allowed to consider the motivation for Waters making the recordings and the disc.
The Judge said:
The children shown in the clips were predominately of children in semi-undressed state. He may well have derived some form of gratification, sexual or otherwise, by looking at scantily clad young children - for example in an aboriginal cave
talking to their mother. But if one removes the motivation for making these clips one is left with the images themselves and one asks oneself objectively are they indecent? They are not.
The charges (9 counts) against Waters look laughable, but only because he could show that the images were taken from broadcast TV. In another context, those same images downloaded from the internet could easily have been put before a jury and a
This is similar to images from the Hamilton books which are not indecent when on sale in WH Smith, but are indecent when found on your hard drive.
A man is set to appear in the High Court to defend himself against libel allegations over a book review he wrote on Amazon's website last year.
Vaughan Jones cannot afford representation and is having to defend himself alongside barristers acting on behalf of internet giant Amazon and Richard Dawkins who are also named as co-defendants. The Richard Dawkins Foundation had also published
an article by Jones on its website.
The case is being brought by Chris McGrath who wrote and self-published a little known book entitled The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know .
Libel reform campaigners have expressed concern that the hearing is another example of how Britain's defamation laws disproportionately favour claimants, closing down debate particularly among individuals and organisations who cannot afford
costly legal battles.
John Kampfner, the Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, one of the founding partners of the Libel Reform Campaign, said:
That a family man from Nuneaton can face a potentially ruinous libel action for a book review on Amazon shows how archaic and expensive our libel law is. We're pushing the government to commit to a bill in the next Queen's speech so that these
chilling laws are reformed to protect freedom of expression.
A complaint about Stiffy's Jaffa Cake and Kola Kubez vodka liqueur products has been upheld by the Portman Group's Independent Complaints Panel for inappropriately linking an alcohol product with sexual success.
The complaint was made by a drinks manufacturer which considered that the brand name Stiffy's was an overtly sexual reference which is banned under the Portman Group Code.
In considering the complaint, the Panel noted that stiffy was a common slang term for an erection and considered that the brand name therefore had strong sexual connotations. The company, Stiffy's Shots Ltd maintained that the brand name
had been chosen because Stiffy was the nickname of a person involved in the development of the drink; it had not been chosen for its sexual connotations. The Panel acknowledged that while the company may not have deliberately set out to
link the product with sexuality, the brand name alluded to sexual success and accordingly found the product in breach of the responsibility Code.
Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:
It is totally inappropriate for alcohol marketing to allude to sexual success and following this ruling and our enforcement action, Stiffy's products will be removed from sale in their current form. We would urge anyone who comes across examples
of irresponsible alcohol marketing to complain immediately to the Portman Group.
Alcohol companies must be extremely vigilant about marketing their products responsibly and we encourage companies and their agencies to contact our fast, free and confidential advisory service which last year alone handled over 500 requests for
The company, in consultation with the Portman Group's Advisory Service, has now changed the brand name to Stivy's.
More than two-thirds of adults support the shutdown of social networks during periods of social unrest such as the riots in England this summer, new research has revealed.
A poll of 973 adults carried out for the online security firm Unisys found 70% of adults supported the shutdown of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), while only 27% disagreed.
However analysis by the Guardian of 2.5m tweets relating to the riots, part of its Reading the Riots study in conjunction with the London School of Economics, found little evidence to support claims the network had been used to instigate
unrest. However, the BBM network was believed to have played a role in organising disturbances.
Freedom of expression campaigners said they were worried that Britons were sanctioning draconian measures as ever more services shift online. Padraig Reidy, news editor of Index on Censorship said:
It's very worrying that people would believe shutting down social networks would be in any way desirable. The vast majority of social network use during the unrest was people sreading information and helping each other get home safely. These
kinds of actions would weaken the UK's position against authoritarian regimes who censor internet access. As we live more of our lives online, people should be conscious of the amount of power they're potentially handing over to government.
The Campaign for Real Education has condemned his publishers as over the top for deciding to package one of his early adventures, Tintin in the Congo , in shrink-wrap and with a warning about its content.
George Remi, the Belgian artist better known as Herge, first published his tale of derring-do in Africa in 1930. When he re-worked it in 1946 he removed several references to the Congo being a Belgian colony.
But the book still contained a number of images that were perceived as racist. One of these showed a black woman bowing to Tintin and saying White man very great...White mister is big juju man .
The book's publisher, Egmont UK, said it recognised that some readers may be offended by the content. A spokesman said:
This is why we took the unusual step of placing a protective band around the book with a warning about the content and also included an introduction inside the book by the original translators explaining the historical context.
Whilst being frequently requested by fans and collectors who had seen it available in other languages, the work contains scenes which some readers may find offensive.
The warning reads:
In his portrayal of the Belgian Congo, the young Herge' reflects the colonial attitudes of the time...
He depicted the African people according to the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period -- an interpretation that some of today's readers may find offensive.
The Royal Shakespeare Company's founder Peter Hall has defended the company's right to be subsidised, saying controversy is the lifeblood of the arts.
Hall, who was the RSC's artistic director at the time of Peter Brook's original production in 1963, said:
The RSC's first production of Marat/Sade back in the sixties was indeed controversial, but the reactions then, it seems to me, were more mature than they are now.
The director's comments come in the wake of an article by the Daily Mail's theatre critic Quentin Letts, which appeared under a headline describing Anthony Neilson's revival as nothing but a shocking waste of your money. Letts wrote:
Subsidised theatre is a wonderful idea. At its best it can ignite noble aspiration. It can inform, entertain, elevate. But not when it is like this.
The Telegraph's Charles Spencer has also subsequently written in favour of the production:
If contemporary drama wants to reflect the way we live now, sex and violence are subjects it cannot afford to ignore.
Hundreds of football fans turned out in Glasgow on Saturday to protest against proposals for a new anti-sectarianism bill. More than 700 people cheered as key speakers from Fans Against Criminalisation called for the bill, currently going
through the Scottish Parliament, to be scrapped.
Banners with slogans including kill the bill were waved at the mass gathering in the city's George Square. Organisers of the event said they were delighted with the support, which they say reflected the strength of feeling on the issue.
Jeanette Findlay, of Fans Against Criminalisation, said:
We want this dangerous piece of legislation stopped in its tracks. If they want to tackle sectarianism, use the existing powers... It is not a proper piece of legislation and is unnecessary and unworkable.
Media industry copyright representatives returned to court to hammer out the final details in the pioneering web-blocking case against Usenet indexing site Newzbin2.
Although BT had already lost their case opposing the action, there was a last-minute development when a Newzbin2 and BT user stepped up to intervene in the proceedings.
The individual, known only as DM , had already come under legal pressure from the Motion Picture Association (MPA) trying to prevent the intervention.
TorrentFreak understands that DM asked that the full block on Newzbin2 should be avoided, and the MPA should specifically identify which URLs point to infringing material and have those removed instead.
The judge felt that DM's submission should be aired and he allowed that to go ahead. Whether it has made any difference is yet to be seen. And because he won his submission he won't have to pay the costs of the MPA opposing him.
The court has reserved its judgement on details considered in this latest hearing.
Britain's largest ISP, BT, is being forced to use its Cleanfeed blocking capability to stop users from accessing a website enabling movie piracy.
Bloomberg Businessweek reported that as a result of a case won by Twentieth Century Fox and five other studios last July, a judge told BT that it had to use the Cleanfeed content-blocking system to block Newzbin. This is a website that
indexes Usenet content that is commonly posted without copyright consent.
BT has argued against the court order saying it would be inappropriate because Newzbin isn't a customer of the company.
A playwright has cancelled a play set partly during the Second World War, claiming the quango which commissioned it asked him to remove references to Nazis, Jews and the invasion of Poland for fear of offending the audience.
The Halloween play was originally approved to be performed as part of ghost tours at Pendennis Castle, in Falmouth, Cornwall, over four nights for an adults only audience. The scenes in question included a young Polish Jew,
who arrived in Britain as a refugee, voicing fears about what would happen to his relatives in occupied Europe.
Playwright Rod Tinson hit out at English Heritage for trying to create a Disneyfied version of history by insisting on changes to his play. Tinson said of the English Heritage request:
They said it was inappropriate for an English Heritage audience. What version of history are they trying to illustrate at this place?
I cannot see why it would be deemed offensive, it was intended for adults, many of whom remember the war or know people who were involved in it. I cannot understand it. I refused to change it because it would have changed the whole storyline.
Google have revealed the number of requests for them to remove content, mostly from YouTube and to hide content from searches. The figures cover the period January to June 2011.
Google received 7 UK court orders to remove 43 items from searches. 14 on grounds of defamation and 28 on grounds of privacy or security.
Google received 1 UK court order and 52 letters from the likes of police and government requesting removal of a total of 220 YouTube videos. 61 for privacy and security, 135 for national security, 3 for violence and 1 for hate speech.
Google received 24 US court orders and 3 government/police requests to remove 198 items from searches. 188 of these on grounds of defamation
Google received 6 US court order and 26 letters from the likes of police and government requesting removal of a total of 113 YouTube videos. 62 for privacy and security, and 16 for defamation.
Google also received 5 court orders to remove 379 Google Groups on grounds of defamation. Also 18 requests to remove 47 items from Blogger blogs.
The US requests are a 70% increase over the previous 6 month.
In a show of good faith, Google touted the fact that it has refused to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in the U.S. who requested the removal of YouTube videos of police brutality and criticisms of law enforcement officials.
Google cited its transparency report from the first half of this year, but to mention it with violent crackdowns at Occupy Oakland this week, is telling. Google said:
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of
videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.
Tim Barnett, the head of the Olympic and Paralympic News Service, which will provide quick flash quotes to the world's media during the Games, said he strongly refuted any suggestion that there may be censorship of athletes' comments.
We will report fairly and accurately what happens in the mixed zone [where athletes give quick remarks after events], Barnett told more than 500 of the world's media at the World Press Briefing in London.
Barnett's assurances come after the Olympic News Service failed to report any athlete opinion or comment about the London riots during the beach volleyball test event. At the time OPNS staff said they were instructed to only report comments made
An official consultation on public order powers has just been launched.
The home secretary, Theresa May, is seeking curfew powers for the police to create no-go areas during riots. The powers are expected to include immediate curfews over large areas to tackle the kind of fast-moving disturbances that swept
across many of England's major cities in August. May also wants to extend existing powers to impose curfews on individuals and stronger police powers to order protesters and rioters to remove face masks.
On a more positive note, the consultation will look at repealing section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act, which outlaws insulting words or behaviour . There are claims the provision hampers free speech and it has been the subject of a
strong Liberal Democrat campaign.
Parliament's joint human rights committee has called for the removal of the word insulting to raise the threshold of the offence, citing a case in which a teenager was arrested for calling Scientology a cult. Evangelical Christians have
complained about the use of section 5 to fine street preachers who proclaim that homosexuality is sinful or immoral.
Those supporting the reform say it would still cover threatening, abusive or disorderly behavour.
The National Secular Society, faith groups and civil liberties groups as well as the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), have long argued that the word insulting should be removed from section 5 of the Public Order Act on the
grounds that it criminalises free speech.
The NSS is also concerned about the use of insulting in Section 4A of the Public Order Act.
In March 2010, Harry Taylor was found guilty of religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress after he left anti-religious cartoons and other material he had cut from newspapers and magazines in the prayer room of John
Lennon airport in Liverpool. Taylor was charged under Part 4A of the Public Order Act after the material was found by the airport chaplain, who said in court that she was insulted, offended, and alarmed by the cartoons and so called the
In its legislative Scrutiny of the Protection of Freedoms Bill, the Joint (Parliamentary) Human Rights Committee recommended the amendment of the Public Order Act to remove all references to offences based on insulting words or behaviour. Their
report stated: We consider that this would be a human rights enhancing measure and would remove a risk that these provisions may be applied in a manner which is disproportionate and incompatible with the right to freedom of expression, as
protected by Article 10 of the [European Convention on Human Rights] and the common law.
Stephen Evans, Campaigns Manager at the National Secular Society, said: In an open and democratic society such as ours, none of us should have the legal right not to be offended.
The word insulting should be deleted because in the interests of free speech there must be a higher threshold for criminality than insult . The law needs an urgent re-examination, so we very much welcome this consultation.
Offsite Comment: The Public Order Act: More than a little insulting
What do Peter Tatchell and the Christian Institute have in common? Before you answer, this isn't some deeply unfunny jibe from a Coalition colleague, but one of many unexpected alliances which have formed to oppose Section 5 of the Public Order
This rather insidious Section criminalises all those who use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress .
It also applies to those who display any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting .
Theatregoers have been walking out of a filthy and depraved Royal Shakespeare Company production in their droves, 'disgusted' by its scenes of nudity, violence and rape.
On one night, 80 left Stratford-upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre during the play, Marat/Sade , which features simulated sex acts and torture by Taser.
It is set in a lunatic asylum in post-revolutionary France, where the infamous Marquis de Sade is directing a play about the last days of political thinker Jean Paul Marat using inmates as actors. Written by Swedish playwright Peter Weiss, it has
generated controversy since it was first staged in 1964.
Theatregoer Kate Dee, who left at the interval, said:
It was utter filth and depravity. The rape scene came just before the interval and many people did not return for the second half. I knew it was supposed to be edgy but it was the worst kind of filth dressed up as quality theatre. They have got
it badly wrong. I don't blame people for walking out. They took it too far this time.
Last night the RSC admitted that, on average, 30 people had left the theatre each night since the production opened on October 14.
Michael Boyd, the Company's Artistic Director said:
Marat/Sade changed the face of British theatre when it premiered in 1964. It's a controversial play because the subjects it explores -- insanity, individuality, sexuality, the abuse of power, freedom versus control -- are just as sensitive today
as they were in the 1960s.
Adrian Smith, a Christian, posted in his own time a response to a news story on the Government's plans to allow gay weddings in church. The posting, which was only available to his friends, questioned whether the plans were an equality too far
He was then found guilty of supposed gross misconduct by the Trafford Housing Trust, a publicly funded housing association, and has been demoted from his £ 35,000 a year managerial post to a more junior
£ 21,000 position.
The Trust said the comments, posted on a page which identified the user as a housing association employee, were against equal opportunities policy.
Smith is threatening to take the housing association to court claiming damages equivalent to his lost pay.
Update: Peter Tatchell correctly defends Adrian Smith
A leading gay rights campaigner has backed a Christian housing worker demoted for posting comments on Facebook about gay marriage. Political campaigner Peter Tatchell described the Trafford Housing Trust (THT) response as excessive and
Human rights organisation the Peter Tatchell Foundation issued a statement saying it was not a particularly homophobic viewpoint :
Adrian Smith's opposition to churches being compelled to hold gay marriages is shared by much of the population, including many equality and human rights organisations. In a democratic society, he has a right to express his point of view, even
if it is misguided and wrong.
Freedom of speech should only be limited or penalised in extreme circumstances, such as when a person incites violence against others. Mr Smith's words did not cross this threshold.
Instead of taking disciplinary action, the Trust should have simply warned Smith about making remarks in forums where he is identified as their employee, added Tatchell: I urge Trafford Housing Trust to revoke his demotion and salary cut.
A Christian who was demoted for posting his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook has won a High Court case against his employer for breach of contract.
Adrian Smith lost his managerial job, his pay was cut by 40 per cent and he got a final written warning from Trafford Housing Trust after posting that gay weddings in church were an equality too far .
The comments were not visible to the general public and were posted outside work time, but the trust claimed he broke its code of conduct by expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers.
However, Mr Justice Briggs found the postings did not amount to misconduct, and that viewed objectively, they were not judgmental, disrespectful or liable to cause upset or offence, and were expressed in moderate language. The judge said:
Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct. The breach of contract was serious and repudiatory.
However the damages were limited to a very small amount due to the actual financial loss turning out to be small for the period covered by the case.
When the end came, it came very suddenly. For months, the Libyan rebels, supported by Nato, were striving to end Muammar Gaddafi's rule in Libya. For weeks that goal seemed to be coming closer, but for many Libyans a
tantalising question remained: where was Gaddafi? For days, attention has been on his hometown of Sirte, where Gaddafi loyalists held out. Then yesterday, Sirte fell and suddenly, unexpectedly, Gaddafi was found. A dramatic news day, which posed
many challenges. Our continuing commitment to coverage of Libya means we were able to provide on the ground reporting from Sirte. We are the only UK news organisation to have had a permanent continuous presence in Libya since February and
yesterday, our correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse was the only UK broadcaster in Sirte as Gaddafi was killed, able to provide first-hand reporting of what happened, carefully piecing together the day's events. We gained big audiences for our
coverage yesterday across platforms. Col Gaddafi
It was a confusing story. This posed another challenge. In the age of mobile phones, footage of the capture of Gaddafi soon started to emerge. We could not always be clear of its origins so it was important to make what
checks we could and then be very clear with our audiences what we'd been able to verify and what we hadn't. The other challenge was posed by the nature of the footage itself - very graphic, some of it showing Gaddafi alive but manhandled and
bloody and other footage and stills showing his dead and bloodied body. We judged that it was right to use some footage and stills, with warnings about their nature. Part of yesterday's story, especially in the first hours, was the swirl of
rumour. The images of his dead body were an important part of telling the story to confirm reports of his death. Images of him alive but manhandled were also disturbing, but told an equally important part of the story about how his captors
treated him and how far he himself had fallen. As the different footage emerged through the afternoon, it became an important way for us to piece together what happened - what were the circumstances of his death, did he die from wounds sustained
in the fighting or was he captured alive and then shot? As different officials and eyewitnesses gave different accounts, the footage helped us share emerging photographic evidence with the audience.
We do not use such pictures lightly. There are sequences we did not show because we considered them too graphic and we took judgements about what was acceptable for different audiences on different platforms at different
times of day, especially for the pre-watershed BBC1 bulletins. I recognise that not every member of the audience will agree with our decisions, but we thought carefully about how to balance honest coverage of the story with audience sensitivity.
The News Channel faces a different challenge. We know that many people join the coverage through the day or only watch for a short while. For these audiences we need to keep retelling the story. But we also know that some people watch the live
rolling coverage for several hours, and with the Gaddafi story this meant some repetition of the graphic images. It is a difficult balance to strike. For the website, we chose to use an image of Gaddafi's body in the rotating picture gallery on
the front page. We recognise that it is hard to provide a warning on the front page and so while we felt it was an important part of telling the core story in the early stages, as time passed we found other ways to convey what had happened on the
front page, with the most graphic images at least a click away and with a clear warning.
There were undoubtedly shocking and disturbing images from yesterday. But as a news organisation our role is to report what happened, and that can include shocking and disturbing things. We thought carefully about the use of
pictures - which incidentally we used more sparingly than many other UK media - and I believe that overall they were editorially justified to convey the nature of yesterday's dramatic and gruesome events
Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief, has stood by the company's decision not to suspend the service during the UK riots or disclose user identities to authorities.
Speaking at the annual Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Costolo referred specifically to the UK riots when talking about the need to ensure Twitter remains a platform upon which freedom of speech is prioritised , even during times of civil
One of our core values is respect and the need to defend the user's voice, he explained. In the case of the London riots...the majority of the tweets were more about organising cleans ups [rather than inciting violence].
It was thought that after a number of executives from Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry were summoned to a meeting with Theresa May, the Home Secretary, after their services were used to coordinate and encourage looting during the UK riots, the
Government would try to temporarily suspend the digital networks. However, Costolo revealed that instead of engaging in shut down talks in such meetings, it told government officials that the hope is the majority of tweets around a hot
topic such as the riots, will be geared at trying to help matters, rather than incite more violence.
Reforms to England's libel laws will not do enough to protect free speech. A powerful parliamentary committee believes further steps are needed to prevent big corporations using their financial muscle to gag opponents by threatening legal
It also wants extra measures to protect scientists and academics who are publishing legitimate research, and to prevent trivial claims ever reaching court.
The committee has been scrutinising the Coalition's proposals to end the international embarrassment that sees rich and powerful foreigners flocking to our courts to silence critics.
The report from the joint committee on the draft Defamation Bill says many of the Government's proposals, particularly a move to end trial by jury except in the most serious cases, are worthwhile . But it says the plans are modest and do not address the key problem in defamation law, the
unacceptably high costs associated with defending cases.
Recommendation that websites be held responsible for anonymous comments
Websites should have protection from defamation cases if they act quickly to remove anonymous postings which prompt a complaint, a report says. A joint parliamentary committee tasked with examining libel reform says it wants a cultural
shift so that posts under pseudonyms are not considered true, reliable or trustworthy , But it says websites which identify authors and publish complaints alongside comments should get legal protection.
The committee proposes a new notice and takedown procedure for defamatory online comments - aimed at providing a quick remedy for those who are defamed and to give websites which use the procedure more legal protection.
It recommends that where complaints are made about comments from identified authors - the website should promptly publish a notice of the complaint alongside it. The complainant can then apply to a court for a takedown order - which if
granted, should result in the comment being removed, if the website is to avoid the risk of a defamation claim.
But where potentially defamatory comments are anonymous, the website should immediately remove them on receipt of a complaint, unless the author agrees to identify themselves, the report says. The author of the comment can then be sued for
defamation but if a website refuses to take down an anonymous remark it should be treated as its publisher and face the risk of libel proceedings .
The report also says a website could apply to a court for a leave-up order, if it (is rich enough and) considers the anonymous comment to be on a matter of significant public interest.
But Mumsnet, a parenting website, says many of its members rely on the ability to ask questions or post comments anonymously. Many of the women posting messages do so under a user name , rather than their real name - and the site is
worried the proposal will mean more people demanding messages be taken down.
Its co-founder, Justine Roberts, said while it was right to stop people from assassinating the character of others from behind the cloak of anonymity the report did not recognise how useful anonymous postings were in allowing people to
speak honestly about difficult real-life situations . The recommendations could have a chilling effect on sites like Mumsnet where many thousands of people use anonymity to confidentially seek and give advice about sensitive real-life
Under the current law, websites are liable for defamatory statements made by their users. If they fail to take down a post when they receive a complaint, they risk being treated as the primary publisher of the statement.
So how is a website to know if users correctly identify themselves anyway?
A man is facing a substantial prison sentence after posting sectarian comments on a Neil Lennon hate page just hours after an explosive Old Firm clash, a court has heard.
Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Stephen Birrell was caught during a special police operation launched to combat bigoted comments on the internet.
Birrell admitted posting the religiously prejudiced abuse on a Facebook site called Neil Lennon Should be Banned . He committed the latest 'offence' a few days after being released from a previous 12-month jail sentence.
Prosecutor Mark Allan told the court that a police team began investigating hate comments on the web after the touchline clash between Rangers then assistant manger Ally McCoist and Celtic manager Neil Lennon during the Old Firm match on 3 March
Defence solicitor John McLaughlin said:
These postings were distasteful and abusive. However, his postings did not contain threats or incitement to violence. There was no mention on them of Neil Lennon or the manager of Celtic. It was hackneyed sectarian language.
The language he used was that of his peers growing up in Dalmarnock. He is now committed to changing his behaviour particularly since his mother is a Catholic.
Sheriff Bill Totten told Birrell: What you wrote was vile and hateful there is no place for these kind of remarks in our city or in our country. Adding that his comments could encourage impressionable people to behave in this way and were
unacceptable: You should be under no doubt very real harm does result from this. A substantial custodial sentence will probably have to be imposed in this case.
Sheriff Totten deferred sentence until next month.
I'm struggling to think of the last time I heard anyone in Scottish politics say I believe in free expression , without following it with a but , or some other pious caveat, justifying illiberal legislation to put peoples' tongues
in the vice, fetter their fingers, or otherwise curtail free speech.
For those who care about free expression in the UK, and particularly the reform of our invidious libel laws, this is a crucial week. Today and tomorrow, the UK Supreme Court hears the Times's attempt to overturn an appeal court ruling in a libel
case brought against it by Metropolitan Police officer Gary Flood.
We were asked to see the film. We saw it and we really do not have to give a reason why we reached our decision.
...and so, in February 1995, it was decided by the Forest Constables (parish officials) that Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994) would not be shown in Guernsey, making it the only place in the British Isles to overrule the BBFC decision to
award the film an 18 certificate.
With its swearing and its baby-stoning, Saved shocked Britain in 1965. Will the play do so again?
Saved is now considered a masterpiece, celebrated for its role in the fight to abolish theatre censorship (which finally happened in 1968), and as a prime influence on modern playwrights. But those present at the Royal Court in 1965 were less
The Lord Chamberlain, as theatre censor, had refused to license the play for public performance unless the baby stoning scene was cut, as well as a sexually suggestive episode in which a young man darns the stocking of an older woman while she is
wearing it, and all uses of the words arse , bugger , crap and shag . Bond refused. I have rarely been as offended in my life as I was by that, he says. So director William Gaskill dubbed the Court a private
club theatre for these performances. Not surprisingly, the censor saw through the ploy, and one night in December Gaskill was apprehended by police in the foyer. The following March, a sympathetic magistrate found the theatre at fault, but handed
out a mere £ 50 fine.
Ahmed Faraz distributed extremist books and DVDs with the aim of priming people for terrorism , a court has heard.
He is charged with 10 counts of disseminating terrorist publications, nine counts of having terrorist publications in his possession, with a view to distributing them, and a further 11 counts relating to the possession of information that is
likely to be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
He was not connected to any specific terrorist plot, a jury at Kingston Crown Court, south west London, was told.
Max Hill QC, prosecuting, said:
This case is about the distribution of books and DVDs and other material which we say represent steps along the road to radicalisation of Muslims to engage in violent terrorist attacks around the world, including the UK. This case is also about
the ways and means by which to solidify that radicalisation and provide practical assistance for those who have been radicalised.
Several of the publications distributed by this defendant did end up in the hands of individuals, many of them now notorious - or infamous - terrorists who have stood trial in English courtrooms such as this in the last five years and are now
serving long prison sentences, having been found guilty of plotting to terrorise the British public.
Faraz denies all charges. The trial is scheduled to finish in January 2012.
A speech to the Leveson Inquiry into press regulation and the hacking scandal. By John Kampfner of Index on Censorship:
Freedom of expression is one of the most basic human rights. It is at the heart of democracy, of liberty. Without an open and raucous public space, society is weaker.
Freedom of expression is not, however, incompatible with high journalistic standards. It depends on good journalism. That is why we at Index on Censorship -- the UK's leading free speech organisation and one of the world's most authoritative
voices in this area -- warmly welcome the Leveson enquiry. We see merit in the enquiry looking at as many areas as time allows.
It is important though to distinguish between the essential - getting to the bottom of the hacking scandal and recommending measures to prevent a repetition -- and the desirable -- creating the perfect media. A perfect media does not exist
anywhere: never has and never will. Given the inevitable choice, would we rather have a press that is excessively pliant, cautious, and deferential -- and we monitor dozens of countries with media like this -- or one that sometimes errs?
The valuable Banksy street stencilled wall mural on the side of a London Post Office, which had become a tourist attraction in itself, has been censored. Presumably this was on the orders of some apparatchik at the Westminster Council or the Post
Office, in spite of the fact that such Banksy stencil wall murals are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Incredibly, Westminster Council have installed a WiFi connected CCTV camera overlooking the site, should anyone have thoughts of art restoration.
Pressure is mounting on the Scottish Government over its plans for anti-sectarian speech laws after an unprecedented attack on Alex Salmond by the Catholic Church.
It comes as the First Minister prepares to meet with Bishop Philip Tartaglia at the First Minister's official residence, Bute House, in Edinburgh.
As The Herald revealed yesterday, the bishop, who many expect to be Scotland's next cardinal, warned of a serious chill between the Catholic community and SNP Government. He also accused Salmond of reneging on a promise to make public
statistics on convictions for sectarian offences.
On other fronts, Labour's justice spokesman, James Kelly, has wrotten to Tricia Marwick, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, casting doubt on whether the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill is
compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Kelly, speaking ahead of publication tomorrow of findings from the second stage of the Bill, claimed the demand was made in light of concerns from the Scottish Human Rights Commission and said the legislation was too broad and risked spawning
rafts of costly court cases and compensation claims. He said:
There are serious questions as to whether the Bill complies with the European Convention on Human Rights. My fear is the legislation is drafted too broadly, which may lead to a situation where fans do not even realise their behaviour is breaking
We must have complete confidence any legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament is absolutely watertight to avoid our laws potentially being subject to costly court cases and compensations claims down the line.
A Tory spokesman said:
All right-minded people want to eradicate the evils of sectarianism, but the best way of doing this is with clear, robust and vigorous legislation. We must guard against 'something must be done syndrome' producing bad law.
Alex Salmond has offered a freedom of speech concession to opponents of his government's anti-sectarian legislation in a bid to appease critics of the SNP's contentious new laws. The announcement of the freedom of expression clause
came after the First Minister held a meeting with the Bishop of Paisley in response to a letter the churchman had written setting out concerns about the government's anti-sectarianism legislation and its plans to bring in same-sex marriage.
Afterwards, Bishop Philip Tartaglia acknowledged the concession by the government.
Alex Salmond is set to agree to a formal review of his anti-sectarianism crackdown to appease critics who claim the measures he is proposing will prove to be either worthless or counter-productive. The First Minister is expected to back a call
from MSPs to put the new laws under review after they get through a parliamentary vote, so sceptics can monitor whether or not they make any difference.
The move comes after Salmond's bid to win unanimous backing was damaged last week when Labour MSPs announced they were opposing the new laws on the grounds that they might make the fight against sectarianism harder.
Few politicians, churchy types or moralists are bold enough to criticize adult sexual behaviour today. Instead, childhood and consumer culture provides a more legitimate site of anxiety and opprobrium. Those who are worrying about the
moral development of little girls are actually worried about the moral degeneracy of adult society, but dare not direct their criticism at adults, retreating instead to what they sense is the more consensual terrain of concern for the welfare of
the next generation.
What concerned commentators fail to recognize is that, far from there being an anything goes attitude when it comes to children's bodies and behavior, we are in fact profoundly uncomfortable with children's physical presence and their
latent or nascent sexuality, as anyone who works with children and has been trained in no-touch rules will tell you. Little girls' bodies, how they move them and how they are covered, have thus become the official object of government
concern and public scrutiny.
Campaigners against a proposed nasty new law to stamp out football sectarianism vowed to step up their protest as they distributed thousands of leaflets at the Rangers versus Hibs game.
Take a Liberty (Scotland) also plans to target Celtic Park and other football grounds, and demonstrate outside the Scottish Parliament when the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications bill is debated.
The bill would see those convicted face up to five years in jail for bigoted behaviour, such as singing or chanting that could incite trouble, at matches or online.
Their campaign intensified amid growing signs that opposition politicians at Holyrood believe the SNP's proposals are becoming increasingly confused and could criminalise ordinary fans.
Take a Liberty has the backing of former Celtic director and ex-Lord Provost of Glasgow, Michael Kelly, who said the bill is a runaway train . Kelly said:
It is ironic that our much maligned football fans are the first to stand up to defend freedom of speech and oppose this ridiculous, undemocratic and unenforceable piece of redundant legislation.
The ordinary fan has clearly a much firmer grasp of what human rights mean in Scotland than a First Minister jumping on a bandwagon which has quickly become a runaway train.
Take a Liberty spokesman Stuart Waiton said fans from a variety of clubs, including Airdrie and Celtic, helped hand out 5,000 leaflets at Ibrox, demanding free speech in football and an end to the police harassment of fans who are
deemed to be singing 'offensive' songs . He said the move was aimed at boosting a petition against the bill, which has attracted nearly 3,000 signatures. The group has also produced T-shirts with the slogan, after Voltaire: I may hate what
you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.