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UK News

2009: Jan-March

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28th March   

Free Gaza...

West Midlands police censor graffiti mural
Link Here

West Midland's police were accused of wanton censorship after it erased a Free Gaza mural by a renowned Muslim graffiti artist.

Despite receiving the permission of the property owner police assessed Mohammed Ali's work as a supposed security risk.

The force, which did not receive a single complaint, was also accused of deploying underhanded scare tactics in getting the mural removed by suggesting to the elderly homeowner that it could trigger a petrol bomb attack.

The 30 year-old award winning artist accused police of wanton censorship. He told The Muslim News: The murals are not racist or homophobic and they do not incite violence but the police implied that they could stir up trouble and trigger violence between Jews and Muslims.

Police had approached the homeowner and asked her to withdraw mission for the mural and sign a form authorising its removal. The owner's son Mohammed Azam said: The police arrived out of the blue and told my mother that the house could be petrol-bombed because of the mural - my mother is scared stiff. I asked them on what a risk assessment was carried out, and the officer at the police station told me his sergeant had seen the mural and decided it should come down.

Local Jewish bodies backed the mural. Ruth Jacobs, of the Israel Information Centre in Birmingham, said, I would not complain about these images because I see them as part of the right to free speech in this country. They are actually quite good pieces of art.

Birmingham Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood, said he was concerned by the police's action. He said, The murals are expressive and show the emotion of young people about what is going on in Gaza. The police need to clearly demonstrate that these murals have put somebody at risk.

Lib-Dem Councilor, Tariq Khan, described police claims that the mural may trigger a bomb attack as outrageous.


24th March   

Update: Obscene Delay...

Barristers get involved in UK text obscenity trial
Link Here
Full story: Obscene Text...Writer prosecuted for text fantasy story

The obscenity trial of the writer of the short text story Girls (Scream) Aloud has been delayed.

At a directions hearing in January, the defendant made it known that given the seriousness of the case he would be represented by a barrister.

Not wishing to be out-gunned, the Crown Prosecution Service also gave notice of its intention to field a QC.

The trial is now set for five days in Newcastle Crown Court, starting on 29 June later this year.


19th March

 Offsite: Derek and Clive Live at the DPP...

Link Here
Records released from the National Archive

See article from


16th March   

Updated: Not a Role Model...

Supporting the hype for Bronson
Link Here

A biopic of the criminal Charles Bronson, who has been called the most violent man in Britain, has been condemned for glorifying his life and encouraging copycat behaviour in prisons.

Bronson was made in collaboration with the notorious inmate, whose real name is Michael Peterson. Promoted as A Clockwork Orange for the 21st century , the film is an unsparing depiction of Bronson's brutal attacks on prison warders, hostage-taking and fights with fellow inmates. He has spent 29 of the past 35 years in solitary confinement and is now in a specially constructed cage deep inside Wakefield maximum security prison.

It's a sad state of affairs in society when we want to glorify someone who has committed horrendous acts of crime by making a film about him, said Glyn Travis, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers Association: Charles Bronson has cost the taxpayer an inordinate amount of money because of his life of crime. This is not a role model we want to portray for people who come into prisons.

The film's Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn, insists he has no interest in trying to win sympathy for the 56-year-old criminal. He said he agreed with the view expressed by Travis that Bronson should not be glorified.

The film will be released on 13 March 2009.

Update: Christopher Tookey Recommends

16th March 2009. See article from , Thanks to Dan

Christopher Tookey

  Tookey Recommends...

British Lottery-funded projects don't come much more barking than Bronson , a heavyweight contender for most unpleasant, ugly and pointless film of 2009.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's ill-advised excursion into art-house brutalism begins with the actor playing Britain's most violent prisoner saying to the camera: I am Charles Bronson, and all my life I've wanted to be famous.

Well, now he is. That's one of the most obvious gripes about the movie. In taking a studiously nonjudgmental, fashionably nihilistic line, it will prove to morons the world over that attacking people for no reason is one sure fire way to attain celebrity.

Why on earth such a creep should be glorified, I cannot imagine, especially as the film makes no attempt to understand him or derive any lessons from his behaviour.

In addition to celebrating violence, this most brutal of biopics is virulently homophobic. And its other disagreeable overtones of pretentiousness and precious fringe-theatricality make it a uniquely gruesome experience.

Especially distasteful is the use of classical music, in the questionable tradition of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, to add a pretence of ironic nobility to Bronson's thuggishness.

Verdict: Could be a big hit... among psychopaths


15th March   

Consumer Focus vs Consumers...

Nutters get wound up by teen magazines featuring articles on sex
Link Here

Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus, a government quango,  said the magazines were pushing the envelope and warned that parents would be shocked by much of their content.

An article by the Sunday Telegraph featured several magazines aimed at teenage girls and found that they contained sexually-explicit material which was potentially in breach of the industry's editorial code.

Bliss magazine, whose readers have an average age of 15, features on the front of this month's issue the cover lines The Sex Factor and Gang raped for a mobile phone.

April's Sugar magazine, with readers aged 14 on average, features a spread entitled Is it a crush or are you gay? . This month's Top of the Pops Magazine, with readers aged 11 to 15, is sold with a set of Kiss Me! stickers.

The Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel (TMAP), the industry's self-regulatory body whose members include publishers and editors, is tasked to ensure that the sexual content of teenage magazines is presented in a responsible and appropriate manner.

However, critics say that few parents know about TMAP. Since it was launched in 1996, to head off the threat of legislation clamping down on the magazines' sexual content, it has ruled on only three complaints, and in the past three years it has received only one.

Mayo said: Teenage magazines do have a role to play in guiding teenagers through difficult issues, but when it comes to what is responsible and what is not, clearly the envelope is being pushed and parents would be shocked by much of their content.

There is no doubt that some of these magazines are responsible for the early sexualisation of children. If you let industry set the rules, the industry will often find a way through. The answer is not always new rules, but I would welcome the current guidelines actually being enforced.

Michael Gove, the shadow children's secretary, said: These magazines are pushing the boundaries of what parents would consider acceptable. Their publishers have to explain why publications aimed at girls below the age of consent carry this sort of material. The industry needs to look again at how it regulates itself.

Sue Palmer, an educational consultant and the author of Toxic Childhood, said: The reality is that children as young as 10 read these magazines, and what they are being exposed to is often horrific and entirely inappropriate. The very blatantly sexual ethos expressed in them is becoming normalised among young girls. Then we wonder why we have such high teenage pregnancy rates and a booming ladette culture. The regulatory body is clearly a toothless watchdog. Magazines are blatantly flouting the guidelines, which need to be tightened up and have a real force of law behind them, with a watchdog that is independent of the industry.


13th March

 Offsite: Web Control...

Link Here
Impacting freedom of expression online

See report [pdf] from


11th March   

Updated: Pulping Books in Modern Britain...

Well known figure objects to phrase in book
Link Here

Two years after it was published to great acclaim, Andrew Marr's bestseller A History of Modern Britain has been urgently recalled from bookshops amid great mystery.

Pan Macmillan has issued an urgent stock recall notice in which it said that shops needed to return all unsold copies immediately for unspecified legal reasons.

I understand that the recall is because of a complaint by a very well known figure who objected to one silly little phrase in the book.

It's quite unbelievable, says my bookworm. Because of one tiny phrase, which is hardly the world's biggest libel, a book which has already been been bought by 250,000 people has to be pulped. I've never known anything like it.

Anthony Forbes Watson, the managing director of Pan Macmillan, refuses to elaborate on the legal issues surrounding the recall of Marr's book. It is believed that the publisher intends to re-issue it when the changes have been made

The Angry Brigade

11th March 2009. Thanks to Floyd. See article from

Unsold copies of the book, a best seller, were recalled in March 2009 when it emerged legal action had been taken out against the book for false claims that women's rights campaigner Erin Pizzey had been a member of The Angry Brigade terrorist group.


28th February   

Diary: Life of Brian Unbanned...

Pythons to attend showing Life of Brian in Aberystwyth
Link Here
Full story: Monty Python...Monty Python winds up the nutters

Life of Brian
28th March 2008

Two Monty Python stars will be at the first screening of their classic film Life of Brian in a town where it has not been seen since a ban 30 years ago.

Terry Jones and Michael Palin will join Aberystwyth mayor Sue Jones-Davies - who also starred in the 1979 film - at a charity showing on 28 March. Long before becoming mayor, she played Brian's girlfriend in the movie.

But she pledged to fight for the film to be shown when she found it had not been seen in the mid Wales town since.

Last July, Ms Jones-Davies said she was amazed a town like hers still barred a movie now regarded as a comedy classic.

It is understood some churchgoers in the seaside resort are still against the film being shown.

Ms Jones-Davies said she had been assured there was nothing standing in the way of showing Life of Brian in Aberystwyth in 2009: I talked to officials at the town council to check if it was appropriate to show the film and we thought, why not, the proceeds are going to charity. I then asked Terry if he would like to come to the screening and he said, 'shall I ask Michael?'. I said yes and then Michael agreed.

The two Pythons and the mayor will also hold a question and answer session with fans following a champagne reception and the film.

Tickets costing £25 are on sale now, but organisers said only 120 were available.

Ms Jones-Davies' chosen charity is Calon Ceredgion Nurse Appeal, which is part of British Heart Foundation Cymru. Terry Jones has chosen Truthout, a news agency dedicated to establishing a "powerful, stable voice" for independent journalism.


24th February   

Updated: England People Very Nice...

National Theatre play winds up the stereotyped
Link Here

It has incestuous, pig-breeding, drunken Irishmen, snooty Frenchmen, farcical Jewish anarchists and the animated presence of a mad mullah ranting about how women must be subservient to men.

It reminded the Daily Telegraph of the Carry On films and the London Evening Standard of the slick, cruel, abusive style that Bernard Manning perfected ages ago.

Its director and writer may well have anticipated controversy, but shortly after opening at the National Theatre, England People Very Nice , a new play by the award-winning dramatist Richard Bean about successive waves of immigration to the east end of London, has been labelled racist and offensive by the communities it portrays.

A delegation of writers and community activists from the East End will meet on Friday with Nicholas Hytner, the National's director who is also directing the play, to protest against what they regard as a caricature of Britain's racial history.

The National represents modern Britain, and in particular London, and I don't see how Muslims can identify with the National Theatre when it puts on this kind of racist work, Hussain Ismail, a playwright from Bethnal Green who has demanded the meeting with Hytner, told the Guardian: I have been going to the National for 20 years, but I don't see how I can identify with a place that stages what I see as a personal attack on me and the community I belong to.

Hytner said in a statement: The play lampoons all forms of stereotyping: it is a boisterous satire of stereotypes of French, Irish, Jews, Bangladeshis, white East End cockneys, Hampstead liberals and many others. Every stereotype is placed in the context of its opposite and it clearly sets out to demonstrate that all forms of racism are equally ridiculous.

Bean's comedy, set around the Brick Lane area of east London, spans more than three centuries, from the arrival of Huguenot weavers to successive influxes of Irish, eastern European Jews and Bangladeshi Muslims. Each wave is greeted with hostility and suspicion with locals, only to integrate to such an extent that they themselves take a similar attitude to the next wave of newcomers.

Update: Multicultural Censors Organise Protest

24th February. From

Artists from the East End will be holding a protest outside the National Theatre at 5pm on Friday 27th February in the run up to the platform discussion at 6pm with Richard Bean, the writer of the play.

Playwright Hussain Ismail, who will be leading the campaign, said: Hytner is scared of a debate. We are from the East End and we know that it is the most multicultural place in the world. Brick Lane in particular is the centre of the multicultural universe. It's the coolest place on the earth and that's why people come from all over the world to hang out there. Bean and Hytner haven't got a clue about the East End. That's why the play is bonkers!

We want a right of reply ­ a proper debate ­ not a 40 minute platform discussion where the director just asks some bland questions to the writer and we all go home. We want a vigorous and robust debate with Bean and Hytner and us on the same platform with the media and public present on mass.

Organisers of the protest are asking everybody to come celebrate multicultural London and demand that East End artists have the right to a debate, and challenge misrepresentation of their communities. They are asking protesters to bring whistles and drums to stand up for multiculturalism.


11th February   

Update: Fitna for Censorship...

Home Office bans Geert Wilders invited to show Fitna in the House of Lords
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders has been refused entry to the United Kingdom to broadcast his controversial anti-Muslim film Fitna in the House of Lords.

Wilders said he had been told that in the interests of public order he will not be allowed to come to Britain.

He responded to the decision in fighting mood, telling reporters that he still intended to travel to London.

He said: I shall probably go to Britain anyway on Thursday. Let us see if they put me in chains on arrival. It is an unbelievable decision made by a group of cowards.

The film features verses from the Koran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam's holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove hate-preaching' verses from the Koran.

Last night, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said he had called British foreign secretary David Miliband to protest against the decision.

He said: It is disgraceful that a Dutch parliamentarian should be refused entrance to an EU country.

A spokesman for the Lords said that the invitation to show his film remained open.

Home Office sources confirmed Mr Wilders had been refused entry to the UK.

A Home Office spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: The Government opposes extremism in all its forms. It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. That was the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced on in October last year.


11th February   

Update: Focus on Playboy...

New censor on the block has a whinge about Playboy merchandising
Link Here
Full story: Playboy Brand...Playboy's ever shifting logo and brand

Consumer Focus has applauded WH Smith for ditching Playboy stationery, claiming pornography was becoming a feature of the playground.

Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus, spoke out after WH Smith discontinued the pencil cases and folder bearing the famous bunny ears logo.

Mayo said stocking the Playboy items was part of a wider sexualisation of children and represented the continuing loss of youngsters' innocence. It was all part of a warped bombardment of children's lives with adult sexuality which could lead to mental problems in the young, he said.

In some senses it may seem harmless, but we know the stationery range was purchased by primary and secondary school girls - in other ways it's the tip of the iceberg. We know from research we did that young people like the brand but know it's connected with pornography and becomes a feature in the playground. One 14-year-old said 'It's posh, makes you feel good but it's pornography'. I am delighted WH Smith have done the right thing.

Mayo also spoke out about the dangers sexualisation of young girls yesterday, warning it triggers 'emotional distress, anxiety, low self-esteem and eating disorders'. Describing the consequences of exposing children to adult sexuality as dire today, Mayo said: There is a wider exposure of children to things and it's about too much, too young. Early sexualisation on children has a real impact in terms of mental distress.

WH Smith would not be drawn on whether the decision to withdraw the Playboy merchandise was because of pressure. A company spokesman said: We continually review and update our range to offer our customers a wide range of products. Each spring we renew our range of fashion stationery and as part of this update we have chosen to discontinue the Playboy range.'

Consumer Focus is a government funded statutory organisation, created through the merger of three organisations energywatch, Postwatch and the National Consumer Council which:

  • establishes a new body to provide a stronger, more coherent consumer advocacy body Consumer Focus able to address consumer issues across different sectors, undertake cross-sectoral research, and provide a voice for consumers in dialogue with companies, regulators, Government and Europe
  • extends redress schemes to all licensed energy suppliers and postal services providers to resolve complaints where suppliers and service providers have not been able to do so, and provide compensation for consumers where it is appropriate
  • enables Consumer Direct to become the single point of contact for all consumers to obtain information and impartial advice as well as signpost consumers and provide them with help when making a complaint. Consumer Direct is a government-funded telephone and online consumer advice service offering clear, practical and impartial consumer advice (08454 04 05 06). Go to Consumer Direct website

Sounds like a another bunch of good for nothing moralising censors to me


8th February   

Update: The Fuck-Up...

Whinging at book shops selling books with 'fuck' in the title
Link Here

Tesco and Asda were 'condemned' for selling a string of books and CDs with the F-word in their titles.

The items were available on their websites, where they were easily accessible to children.

Asda quickly apologised when The Mail on Sunday brought the books and CDs to its attention and promptly removed them from its stock list.

Tesco explained that its technological filter system, designed to prevent any products with offensive titles from appearing on its main site, had been faulty. It has since been repaired, making the titles more difficult to view.

But nutter MPs and campaigners are now questioning whether a change in the law is necessary to prevent unlimited access to such products.

Don Foster, the not so Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, criticised falling standards of decency among retailers. He said: In terms of magazines, CDs and DVDs, standards seem to be slipping. If the industry can't collectively sort itself out then we must seriously look into external regulation. If they can't regulate themselves, we may have to introduce a statutory code.

Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, questioned how selling adult material fitted in with Tesco's image as a family supermarket. Is this the beginning of Tesco's drive to dominate the entire retail industry by abandoning all moral boundaries? Is this Tesco's first step into the adult retail market? What kind of supermarket with a shred of moral responsibility allows such products to be sold openly on the internet, available to children, possibly without a parent's knowledge?

The two supermarkets are not alone in featuring controversial titles on their websites. Last week WHSmith had 23 titles containing the F-word while Waterstone's had 38.
This widespread availability reflects the lack of regulation on the display of such goods on the internet. As the products are legal to sell, the stores themselves agree on a code of conduct over their availability.

Both Tesco and Asda said they did not sell books with the 'fuck' in the titles in their supermarkets.

Tesco Direct had more than ten books and CDs on its site with the F-word in the titles. These included How To Fuck A Woman's Brains Out . Other examples were The Fuck-Up , an American novel about a hopeless New Yorker; and Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way , a self-help book written by an ex-advertising executive turned holistic healer.

A Tesco spokesman said: We block material which may cause offence so that titles like these cannot be searched for or accidentally found. Unfortunately our filter process was not working properly but has now been fixed. We're grateful this was brought to our attention as we do take this responsibility seriously. With Tesco's filter system, the only way to buy a book with an offensive title is to find out its ISBN a unique identifying code and enter that in the site's search engine.

Asda's website is monitored by a third party, which removes from sale anything deemed to be offensive.

Last night, however, both supermarkets' websites were still offering books whose titles use f**k starred out.

John Beyer of campaign group Mediawatch-uk said the products were legal to sell. But he described the law as ineffective and stressed that retailers had a duty to protect shoppers. He said: Sellers have a wider responsibility to the community they serve. Having that word in the title on full display is not something you'd expect of a supermarket.


8th February   

Update: Still an Idiot...

Jeremy Clarkson explains his apology
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

  At least he didn't call me fat!

Jeremy Clarkson watered down his apology yesterday for calling Prime Minister Gordon Brown a one-eyed Scottish idiot saying he was not sorry for the idiot bit.

Speaking to The Sun, in which he writes a weekly column, he said: I very specifically apologised for making fun of his personal appearance very specifically.

I have nothing against the Scottish and of course I regret making any remark that might have upset the disabled. But the idiot bit there is no chance I'll apologise for that.

The BBC said it would be taking no further action against Clarkson.


8th February   

Update: Just Reward...

Secularists of the Year: the movers behind the abolition of blasphemy
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in the UK...Parliamentary repeals UK blasphemy laws

The National Secular Society's annual award for Secularist of the Year has been awarded jointly to Dr Evan Harris MP and Lord Avebury for their success in getting blasphemy laws abolished.

The prestigious prize was handed over by Professor Richard Dawkins at a glittering awards ceremony at the Imperial Hotel in central London on Saturday.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society (NSS), said: The abolition of the blasphemy law in 2008 was a major coup for the NSS and a great victory for everyone who values free speech. The ancient laws had not been used successfully since the 1970s, but there were efforts by Christian evangelicals to revive them, and a case was being considered even as the law was abolished.

Sanderson said that Dr Evan Harris and Lord Avebury both Lib Dems had engineered a clever parliamentary pincer movement that resulted in the Government being forced into bringing forward its own amendment to abolish the law. Having elicited the promise from Ministers in the House of Commons that the law would be abolished, Lord Avebury, who has been campaigning against the blasphemy laws for decades, then brought forward his own amendment to ensure that the Government could not renege on its commitment.


7th February   

Update: Down Under the Belt...

Jeremy Clarkson apologises for calling Gordon Brown an idiot
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

  At least he didn't call me fat!

Jeremy Clarkson has apologised after referring to Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a one-eyed Scottish idiot. He was speaking in Sydney, Australia where he is hosting Top Gear Live , a stage version of the popular BBC show.

During a discussion on the economy, he compared Brown unfavourably with Kevin Rudd, the Australia prime minister, who had addressed his country on the scale of the financial downturn.

He genuinely looked terrified. Poor man, he's actually seen the books, Clarkson said of Rudd.

We have this one-eyed Scottish idiot who keeps telling us everything's fine and he's saved the world and we know he's lying, but he's smooth at telling us.

Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: Mr Clarkson's description of Prime Minister Brown is offensive. Any suggestion that equates disability with incompetence is totally unacceptable. We would be happy to help Mr Clarkson understand the positive contribution people with sight loss make to society.

In a statement issued by BBC Worldwide, Clarkson said: In the heat of the moment I made a remark about the Prime Minister's personal appearance for which, upon reflection, I apologise.

Scottish politicians reacted angrily to Clarkson's remarks. Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, said: Such a comment is really a reflection on Jeremy Clarkson and speaks for itself. Most people here are proud that the Prime Minister is a Scot and believe him to be the right person to get the UK through this global economic crisis.


5th February

 Offsite: UK Shifts Toward Censorship...

Link Here
Summarising UK government censorship for the US adult industry

See article from


4th February   

Snow Bound...

ITN ask Jon Snow to write a blog but then didn't like what he said
Link Here

At the weekend, the Channel 4 newscaster, Jon Snow, told a literary festival that he had been asked by his employers at ITN to write regular blogs, but claimed that, despite the company's enthusiasm, one in four of his postings was suppressed.

In the last few weeks, the company I work for decided they needed to have a blog and wanted the person who presented the news to write it , he said: But of my first 12 blogs, three were not allowed to go because they didn't like what I had to say.

Another panellist, Matt Frei, presenter of BBC World News America, advised him that the best way to kill a blog was to write about completely mundane stuff, like what sort of toothpaste you use.

But Snow replied gloomily: That's what they want me to do.


30th January   

Censorship For All...

Government see broadband for all in its Digital Britain Interim Report
Link Here

The Government have published its Digital Britain Interim Report. In terms of technology the Governments sees broadband for all:

We will develop plans for a digital Universal Service Commitment to be effective by 2012, delivered by a mixture of fixed and mobile, wired and wireless means. Subject to further study of the costs and benefits, we will set out our plans for the level of service which we believe should be universal. We anticipate this consideration will include options up to 2Mb/s.

The report refers to some of the actions initiated as a result of the Byron Report but the main section for new thoughts on the subject of censorship and control is:

5.3 Online Safeguards

There are many reasons why people choose not to engage with digital technology, but lack of confidence is often a significant factor. As in the case of crime off-line, perceptions and fear of the prevalence of fraud, identity theft and other online crime often run ahead of their actual incidence. Many people lack the knowledge to be sure what to do when something unexpected happens to them online. We need to ensure that UK internet users can operate with security and confidence. The route to achieving this will be through ensuring a partnership approach to strengthening security against online crime and building user confidence. This is important to online business as well – we want to make the UK the safest place to do business online.

A globally connected universal broadband world will bring into sharper focus the balance to be struck between freedom of expression and protection against harmful, offensive and illegal content and information.

We see four tiers of content and information around which policy analysis can be developed:

  • material which is acceptable and enjoyed by everybody
  • material that may be offensive to some people or groups
  • material potentially harmful to vulnerable groups
  • especially children
  • material breaching the law.

The internet is by nature global and content originates from millions of different people and organisations. This content is not capable of being successfully regulated in the same way as traditional, national broadcasting. A world of universal broadband will require a new approach to online safeguards.

Such an approach should combine effective enforcement of the law of the land (e.g. as with the Internet Watch Foundation and the work of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre in eradicating the sexual abuse of children), constructive use of technology (e.g. blocking or filtering by software on the user’s PC) and self-regulation (e.g. where content aggregators label content in accordance with industry codes of practice). There should be a clearer role for trusted brands that provide a guarantee of the nature of the content that may be accessed through their product (e.g. the approach Apple has taken to making available applications that run on iPhone). This framework, combined with media literacy initiatives, will support the greater parental and personal responsibility essential to realise safely and effectively the full potential of the online world.

We need a clear set of public policy principles supported by a set of supporting guidelines. The public need to know what they can reasonably expect and have confidence that it will be delivered. Our draft core principles and supporting guidelines are:


• protection for children;
• empowerment for parents; and
• informed consent for adults.

Supporting Guidelines

  •  safer online experience for children and families on which the UK Council on Child Internet Safety is leading
  • effective removal of illegal content
  • clear information on how personal data is collected, how it is used and where it is shared
  • clear and effective labelling to help people avoid material likely to be harmful or offensive
  • effective and readily available filters and other software that consumers can use easily to protect themselves and their families.

We will do further work, in conjunction with industry and others, to develop these principles and guidelines in ways proportionate to the challenge, and we will set out the conclusions of this work in the final Digital Britain Report later this year.


30th January   

Diary: Comedy for the Godless...

See Leicester Comedy Festival squirm over title: Kill Your God
Link Here

Saturday 14th February
Bowies, Leicester

Kill Your God was named one of the Highlights of the 2008 Glasgow International Comedy Festival by The Scotsman, The Heresy Project’s mission is to eradicate all religious persecution once and for all, by the simple process of eradicating all religion….

makes Richard Dawkins look like the Archbishop of Canterbury. Scotsman

hard-hitting, no-holds-barred comedy…satirising both religion and militant atheism Edinburgh Evening News

God is a nonsense and you’re all wrong List

But the Leicester Comedy Festival was not impressed by the name and insisted on changes. The show title has officially been changed for the duration of the Leicester Festival to The Heresy Project: Comedy for the Godless.


30th January   

Sensitivitely Challenged...

Madeleine McCann art exhibit causes a stir
Link Here

Artists who added the face of Madeleine McCann to pornography as part of an exhibition have been accused of appalling insensitivity.

Staff at the Decima Gallery in Hackney, east London, said they pasted pictures of the four-year-old on to models in magazines in a bid to satirise her treatment at the hands of the media.

A spokesman for Maddie's distraught parents, Gerry and Kate, said the exhibition only hampered the hunt for their daughter.

A spokeswoman for the NSPCC said: This is appalling and completely insensitive to the family of Madeleine McCann. "Even allowing for artistic freedom there is no excuse for encouraging people to indulge in something as distasteful as this.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: This sort of thing is a complete distraction from the search for Madeleine and Gerry and Kate will simply not be dignifying it by commenting on it whatsoever.

Gallery co-founder David West said he was inspired by a news story about the American porn industry facing financial difficulty and decided to host a delightful afternoon of hardcore porn. One of the features advertised in a press release was an event called Make Your Own Maddy McCann Porn.

West said: They were decorating models with images of Madeleine McCann. They didn't see it in too bad taste. It was meant to be a way of showing how the tabloid press sensationalise the use of attractive females such as Kate McCann in news stories.

Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, described the exhibition as sick and appalling. Hackney has a reputation as an artistic place with artists who do interesting and sometimes provocative work, but this sort of thing doesn't do the reputation of Hackney any good. This goes beyond the bounds of that and is just sick and I don't see how anyone could think anything else. It's unbelievable and if it's not a spoof, which would be bad enough, then it's just appalling.


24th January   


Beatles anniversary concert banned by jobsworths
Link Here

Friday January 30th is the 40th anniversary of the Beatles playing their last ever live performance, on the roof of 3 Saville Row in London.

Beatles tribute band The Bootleg Beatles were due to re-create the concert on the very same roof, but the local council and police have stopped them from doing it.

The original event was to be organised by Express Newspapers and OK magazine. The Bootleg Beatles were due to play on the roof of 3 Saville Row 40 years to the minute since the Beatles. Tony Bramwell of Apple was due to attend. However, it was cancelled on health and safety grounds, by the local jobsworths and police.

Richard Porter, of the British Beatles Fan Club, and The Beatles In London Tours, was surprised by the cancellation of the rooftop event. It's a real shame, and rather surprising. I find it rather strange as the Bootleg Beatles were played on the very same roof on the 30th anniversary!


17th January   

Lady Chatterley's Defender...

Sir John Mortimer dies aged 85
Link Here

Author and barrister Sir John Mortimer, who created the famous character Rumpole of the Bailey , has died aged 85.

For several decades, he combined both careers and notably appeared for the defence in the Lady Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial in the 1960s.

Other famous court appearances included the Oz censorship trial, the Linda Lovelace so-called Deep Throat case and numerous others involving alleged pornography.

He said the law gave him great insights. People will go to endless trouble to divorce one person and then marry someone who is exactly the same, except probably a bit poorer and a bit nastier. I don't think anybody learns anything.

Rumpole, his most famous character, was created in the mid-1970s and was generally believed to have been based on his stern father. A TV programme and series of books followed and Rumpole went on to become one of the great comic fictional characters of his generation.

Sir John famously had a malicious contempt for political correctness, feminism and the constant desire for equality in everything. On feminism, he once said: It has become discriminatory. All these things start out by wanting to be equal and end up by wanting to be on top.

Despite his commitment to socialism, Mortimer was often highly critical of Tony Blair's Labour Government, often targeting the prime minister himself with damaging barbs.

Once he said: Blair is a not very impressive politician, playing at being a statesmen. Tell him to stop pretending to be a mini-Churchill and to calm down.

He was also pro-fox-hunting, in favour of the Royal family, but 'against' religion. He always said he 'loved' foreigners and was 'all for' homosexuality.


17th January   

Updated: The Demon is in the Implementation...

A few censored pages cause the total loss of an internet archive
Link Here

Following complaints that its child-porn blacklist has led multiple British ISPs to censor innocuous content on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine , the internet censor, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), has confirmed the blacklist contains images housed by the 85-billion-page web history database.

But this fails to explain why Demon Internet and other ISPs are preventing some users from accessing the entire archive.

The IWF can confirm it has taken action in relation to content on involving indecent images of children which contravenes UK law (Protection of Children Act 1978). The URL(s) in question were added to our URL list according to IWF procedures, an IWF spokeswoman told The Reg.

According to IWF guidelines, blacklisted URLs are precise web pages chosen so that the risk of over blocking or collateral damage is minimised. But multiple Demon Internet customers say they're unable to view any sites stored by the Wayback Machine. And in response to our original story on this blacklist snafu, customers of additional ISPs - including Be Unlimited and Virgin - say they're experiencing much the same thing. That said, other customers say they're not experiencing problems. And still others say that access is blocked only intermittently.

The telco that owns Demon Internet, Thus, has not responded to requests for comment. Nor have Be Unlimited and Virgin Media.

Update: A Problem Cached is a Problem Solved

17th January 2008. See article from

British ISP Demon Internet is no longer blocking access to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, after working in tandem with the IA to correct a technical issue with its child-pornography filter.

The IWF confirmed that its blacklist contains at least one image hosted by the Wayback Machine. But although IWF filters are typically designed to block individual pages, Demon's filter seemed to be blocking the entire archive.

A senior engineer with the company has provided an explanation on a newsgroup where users have discussed the blocking. According to this post, Demon customers were unable to access large parts of the Wayback Machine because of the way Demon's IWF filter interacted with the web page cache used by the IA to speed access.

Because at least one Internet Archive page is blacklisted by the IWF, Demon uses a proxy server each time a user requests info from the IA's servers. The caching mechanism wasn't working for pages accessed via this proxy. It also screwed up the cached page for other users accessing via the same proxy. Which explains why some Be Unlimited and Virgin Media customers were having problems with the Wayback Machine.


15th January   

A Ticket to Censor...

Police censor criticism of traffic warden
Link Here

Police shut down a Facebook page after angry drivers post comments about 'Terminator' traffic warden

The Terminator: John Woodgate's zero tolerance to traffic offences is disliked by many drivers. He arrived with the determination to clean up this town and earned a tough reputation for his pursuit of parking offenders. But the heavy-handed manner of traffic warden John Woodgate has not gone down well with the residents of Sudbury in Suffolk.

So much so that they set up a website as a forum to vent their fury about the man nicknamed 'The Terminator'. Soon, nearly 1,000 motorists had signed up to the page on Facebook, making comments such as you jobsworth ****, and the man is just a bully in a uniform.

But Suffolk police have demanded it be shut down because it supposedly contained hateful, threatening or obscene material.

Facebook said: Our policy is to remove groups that attack an individual or group.


14th January   

Update: Private Vices, Public Concerns...

Christopher Meyer warns of privacy rights threat to press freedom
Link Here

Sir Christopher Meyer, the outgoing chairman of the Press Complaints Commission has warned that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg may be a greater threat to the self-regulation of the British press than is generally recognised.

Speaking at a Media Society event, Meyer pointed out that many of the judges who sit in the Strasbourg-based court came from countries with very different traditions of press and magazine freedoms from the UK: They may see the role of the press to inform, not to entertain. To defend the reputation of public figures.

Max Mosley, the president of formula 1 who won ฃ60,000 damages from the News of the World in the UK courts last autumn for breach of privacy, has appealed to the European court for a ruling that news media should be required to give advance notification before publishing a story.

The newspaper industry is alarmed by what it views as a creeping attempt to create a privacy law through a series of judicial judgements.

Meyer said the Human Rights Act may need to be amended to protect the UK's self-regulatory system of press regulation. He added that section 12 of the act, which requires judges to take account of the PCC code of practice, was an issue. When the act was crafted, the then home secretary, Jack Straw, had intended this to be as a buttress to press freedom. But instead lawyers and judges were increasingly seeking to interpret the code on their terms, he said.


11th January   

Update: Censorship Drag...

Liverpool council to decide on awarding 18 certificates to cinema films featuring smoking
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films


Don't smoke pups...
It addles the brain, you may turn
into a Liverpuddlian health nut

Liverpool health bosses are calling for an 18 certificate to be given to any film which glamorises smoking.

The city would become the first in Britain to bring in the ruling if council chiefs agree next week.

Health leaders want all movies where a character smokes without a good reason to be given an adults only classification in a bid to stop children taking up the habit.

Although cinema films are given their ratings by the BBFC, local authorities have had the power to override the decision.

The call by Liverpool Primary Care Trust is also being backed by the city council’s Public Protection Service. They say across the UK more than 150,000 children start smoking each year. In Liverpool the figure is 3,300, almost three times the expected level for the population size.

Andy Hull, of Liverpool PCT, who led the SmokeFree Liverpool campaign, said: When you’re in the worst position in the whole country for something you’ve got to be radical.

Health leaders say there should be only two exceptions to the 18 certificate – portrayal of a real historical figure who actually smoked, or where the film shows a clear and unambiguous portrayal of the dangers of smoking, other tobacco use, or secondhand smoke. But they say the new classifications would only be given to future films and not those already on release.

Council chiefs will consider the request at a meeting of the licensing and gambling committee next week. Any move to bring in the restrictions would need the agreement of the full council.


9th January   

Financial Censorship...

Scottish Daily Newspaper Society oppose D-Notices for financial news
Link Here

The Scottish Daily Newspaper Society has added its voice to the chorus of disapproval that the media might be restricted in the way it reports financial crises.

In the wake of the recent banking collapses, the Treasury Select Committee at Westminster is holding an inquiry. So-called D-Notices are used to restrict the reporting of stories that may jeopardise the national security, leading to concerns that something similar might be applied to financial journalism.

Says SDNS director Jim Raeburn: This is a classic case of ‘shoot the messenger’. Quite apart from the practicalities of any such proposition, this would amount to blatant censorship in breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights relating to freedom of expression. It should also be said that financial journalists are already subject to statutory and self-regulatory controls, the latter under the Editors’ Code of Practice administered by the Press Complaints Commission and its Financial Journalism Best Practice Note published in 2005.

The SDNS totally and utterly rejects any notion that readers should be deprived of information on financial matters which might assist them in making perfectly rational decisions to secure their investments.


9th January   

Comment: Dangerous Hypocrisy...

Denis MacShane in the Private Eye spotlight
Link Here

The new Private Eye has also got an interesting item, with Denis MacShane MP sounding off about "libel tourism", with foreign crooks sueing in England to take advantage of English libel laws in respect of articles published overseas.

MacShane is also a keen supporter of the Dangerous Pictures Act, which will put British people in jail for just looking at material produced quite legally in more enlightened countries.

An early entry for the Caiaphas Prize for Hypocrisy 2009?


4th January   

Update: Loopy Lewes...

Council go on the hunt for lewd place names
Link Here

There must be a limit to the silliness of local councils. But if there is, it has not yet been reached. Lewes District Council has just decided to ban street names which officials think might be susceptible to a "lewd" interpretation.

So in an heroic effort to emulate the spirit of those Victorian prudes who put drapes over piano legs for fear of generating lustful thoughts in young people, names such as Hoare Road and Lady Gardens are to be banned by council officials.

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