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UK News

2011: July-Sept

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30th September   

Updated: Get Off My Land and Find God!...

Farmer censors Rihanna in topless/bikini shoot for a music video
Link Here

Farmer Alan Graham was so 'shocked' to see Rihanna in his barley field wearing a red bikini or less that he pulled up his tractor, objected to her inappropriate state of undress and called a swift halt to proceedings.

While a meeting with Rihanna would be the stuff of dreams for most red-blooded males, Graham instructed her to brush up on her Bible reading before sending her on her way. He said:

If someone wants to borrow my field and things become inappropriate, then I say, 'Enough is enough'. I felt Rihanna was in more of a state of undress than a bikini top.

And indeed one photograph of the shoot appeared to show her topless.

Graham, a devout Christian, thought it time to impart some advice: I had a conversation with Rihanna and I hope she understands where I'm coming from. Everybody needs to be acquainted with God and to consider his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his death and Resurrection.

The Democratic Unionist Party alderman for North Down Borough Council had given permission for the filming on his 60 acres of land in Clandeboye, outside Bangor.

Offsite Comment: Looney has a knock at Rihanna

30th September 2011.  See  article from by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

As a liberal [oh yeah!] and a Muslim who lives in London, I confess it is unlikely I would have much in common with farmer Graham, with his faith or his politics. It is possible I wouldn't even like the man much.

But that's not the point. I hugely admire what he did. In his small, humble way, this farmer demonstrated a kind of strength and conviction that used to be commonplace in society, and which, to our shame, has almost disappeared. He had the chance to make a tidy sum of money from one of the most successful pop singers on the planet, but was not prepared to sell out his principles for a fat cheque from anyone, however famous or important they might be.

Instead, Mr Graham made a brave stand against two of the worst excesses of modern life: the sexualisation of society and our celebrity culture. Rihanna is a good singer and performer, but that is not enough for the mindless followers of popular culture.

So she acts out the semi-pornographic and self-demeaning behaviour that is expected of so many female celebrities today; behaviour the music industry cynically tries to pass off as stylish.

The truth is the pop world has become a contaminated landscape where young women, even those born with exceptional talents, act suggestively to sell records and encourage their worship by fans.


Why is it that the national conversation about the degradation of our natural world and physical environment is considered so respectable and urgent, while anyone who questions the degradation of our moral and social environment is treated like a leper or a lunatic?

...Read the full article


28th September   

Councillor Contorts his Dick onto his Head...

Having a whinge at a Leamington Spa stage performance of Puppetry of the Penis
Link Here

It has been on the road for 13 years, but Puppetry of the Penis is still proving a wind up for the easily offended.

No So Liberal Democrat councillor, Roger Copping, is protesting against the genital origami tour's visit to Leamington Spa. He claims the show to be highly obscene, even though the BBFC decided that DVD of show is only 15 rated.

And he sniffed: This is Royal Leamington Spa. This sort of show is more suitable for a place like Blackpool.

Copping said he has received complaints from half a dozen women who, he said, are appalled that this sort of show should be shown at a family venue . He told the Leamington Spa Courier:

It contains full frontal nudity. It is highly obscene and in very poor taste. The Spa Centre is a venue which is paid for by the council taxpayer and we should have more control over the sort of shows they are putting on.


28th September   

Get Off My Land and Find God!...

Farmer censors Rihanna in topless/bikini shoot for a music video
Link Here

Farmer Alan Graham was so 'shocked' to see Rihanna in his barley field wearing a red bikini or less that he pulled up his tractor, objected to her inappropriate state of undress and called a swift halt to proceedings.

While a meeting with Rihanna would be the stuff of dreams for most red-blooded males, Graham instructed her to brush up on her Bible reading before sending her on her way. He said:

If someone wants to borrow my field and things become inappropriate, then I say, 'Enough is enough'. I felt Rihanna was in more of a state of undress than a bikini top.

And indeed one photograph of the shoot appeared to show her topless.

Graham, a devout Christian, thought it time to impart some advice: I had a conversation with Rihanna and I hope she understands where I'm coming from. Everybody needs to be acquainted with God and to consider his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his death and Resurrection.

The Democratic Unionist Party alderman for North Down Borough Council had given permission for the filming on his 60 acres of land in Clandeboye, outside Bangor.


27th September   

Update: Chequered Flag...

Max Mosley's case to notify people prior to press exposure fails at the Grand Chamber of the European Court
Link Here
Full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

Former motorsport boss turned privacy campaigner Max Mosley has had his appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights rejected. Mosley had hoped to overturn a May ruling establishing that media outlets were not required to notify the subjects of stories in advance of publication. But the court announced that that judgment would be final.

Solicitor Mark Stephens, who represented Index on Censorship, the Media Legal Defence Initiative and other interested parties in the case, said:

This decision by the Grand Chamber and the previous decision by the court underline the recommendation made by the UK parliament's Culture Media and Sport Committee. This is a great day for free speech in Britain and throughout Europe.

Index on Censorship news editor Padraig Reidy commented: I

Index submitted its concerns about Mr Mosley's prior-notification plans as we recognised the threat such an obligation would pose to investigative journalism. While privacy is of course a concern, forcing newspapers to reveal stories would have a serious chilling effect.


27th September   

Update: Shameful Scottish Justice...

Scotland adds up the bill for being easily offended by the Naked Rambler
Link Here
Full story: Naked Rambler...Stephen Gough imprisoned for being naked

Scotland's easy offence at the  Naked Rambler has cost tax payers £500,000

Stephen Gough has been behind bars almost continually for six years for refusing to wear clothes either in public, in court or in prison. And it looks as though the bill for keeping him will continue to rise because every time he is freed, he is arrested again for going starkers.

In all, he has been convicted of 17 breaches of the peace for walking naked since he first hit the headlines in 2003 as he walked from Land's End to John O'Groats naked.

Gough is currently serving his longest sentence of 657 days, imposed at Perth Sheriff Court last month.

Sheriff Richard McFarlane has claimed this outrageous injustice is not the fault of the authorities, but that it was all down to Gough. He said: Can you help me as to when this ridiculous cycle of offending will stop? A lot of deserving causes could benefit from the unnecessary cost you are putting the country to. Your conduct is verging on selfish because of the costs.

It costs around £ 35,000 a year to keep the average prisoner but Gough spends most of his time behind bars in segregation, which is more expensive. The total bill is also made up of legal aid, court bills and wasted police time.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: It's unbelievable that this ongoing case has been allowed to waste so much taxpayers' money. A sensible resolution has to be found, sending the naked rambler back to prison benefits no one.


25th September   

You Can't Do That!...

Council bans golliwogs from Bournemouth pier shop
Link Here

  A shop on Bournemouth Pier has removed golliwogs from its shelves after the local council banned their sale.

Council employees turned up at Pier Gifts, on Bournemouth Pier, and told staff they were not allowed to sell the toys.

Rob Graham, a manager at Pier Gifts, said: The guy came in and said we had to get rid of them as they didn't want to be associated with selling golliwogs. Previously a few people came in and said 'You can't sell them', he added.

A statement from Tony Williams, Bournemouth council's executive director for environment and economic services, said selling golliwogs was not in accordance with the business's lease. He said: The council is not prepared to be associated with anything that may be perceived as racist.


22nd September   

Not So Liberal Democrats...

LibDems pass motion to restrict the Sun to the top shelf because of Page 3 girls
Link Here
Full story: Page 3 Girls...Miserable campaigners whinge about page 3 fun

Amongst the motions passed at the Liberal Democrat's 2011 conference is a call to restrict sexualised images in newspapers.

A plan by former MP Evan Harris aims to tackle the projection of women as sex objects to children and adolescents by restricting sexualised images in newspapers and general circulation magazines to the same rules that apply to pre-watershed broadcast media.

The Sun reports that Evan Harris held up photos of page 3 girls during a debate in Birmingham, and argued they - and the Sun newspaper - should only be on the top shelf at newsagents. He said:

OK, these images can be available for adults if they want to access them, but they should have to reach up to a higher shelf than what is at the general view for young people.

Offsite Comment: Taking the liberal out of the Lib Dems

22nd September 2011. From by Patrick Hayes

The Liberal Democrats persist in calling themselves Liberals , while at the same time announcing a range of policies that could deal a bodyblow to individual freedom. From plans to introduce parenting classes, to proposals to ban Page 3 girls and give the state powers to put investigative journalists behind bars, a rebranding as the Illiberal Democrats must surely be in the pipeline.


21st September   

Updated: An Outrageous Abuse...

Police cite Official Secrets Act to get the Guardian to reveal its sources in exposing the Milly Dowler phone hacking
Link Here

The Metropolitan police are seeking a court order under the Official Secrets Act to make Guardian reporters disclose their confidential sources about the phone-hacking scandal.

In an unprecedented legal attack on journalists' sources, Scotland Yard claims the act, which has special powers usually aimed at espionage, could have been breached in July when reporters Amelia Hill and Nick Davies revealed the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. They are demanding source information be handed over.

The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: We shall resist this extraordinary demand to the utmost .

Tom Watson, the former Labour minister who has been prominent in exposing hacking by the News of the World, said:

It is an outrageous abuse and completely unacceptable that, having failed to investigate serious wrongdoing at the News of the World for more than a decade, the police should now be trying to move against the Guardian. It was the Guardian who first exposed this scandal.

The NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said:

This is a very serious threat to journalists and the NUJ will fight off this vicious attempt to use the Official Secrets Act ... Journalists have investigated the hacking story and told the truth to the public. They should be congratulated rather than being hounded and criminalised by the state.ournalists must operate within the law, but ... we must be careful not to overreact in a way that would undermine the foundations of a free society.

Update: Action Dropped

21st September 2011. See  article from

The Metropolitan police has dropped its attempt to order the Guardian to reveal confidential sources for stories relating to the phone-hacking scandal.

The Met had been hoping to force Guardian reporters to reveal confidential sources for articles disclosing that the murdered teenager Milly Dowler's phone was hacked on behalf of the News of the World. But after an intervention by the Crown Prosecution Service and widespread outrage, Scotland Yard was forced into an abrupt climbdown.

A Yard source said:

There will be some hard reflection. This was a decision made in good faith, but with no appreciation for the wider consequences. Obviously, the last thing we want to do is to get into a big fight with the media. We do not want to interfere with journalists. In hindsight the view is that certain things that should have been done were not done, and that is regrettable.


19th September

 Offsite: Press regulation...

Link Here
Be careful what you wish for

See article from


18th September   

Update: Cryptic Response...

Newzbin 2 takes evasive action against the BT website blocking ordered by the UK High Court
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

The operators of Usenet indexing site Newzbin2 have introduced measures to circumvent court-ordered web-blocking measures designed to render the site inoperable in the UK.

Site staff aren't revealing how the stand-alone software client works but some basic network packet analysis shows that it defeats ISP BT's Cleanfeed censorship system by using a handful of techniques including encryption.

Following a complaint from the Motion Picture Association, earlier this year a judge at London's High Court ordered leading UK ISP BT to block subscriber access to Usenet indexing site Newzbin2.

TorrentFreak ran some basic tests on the Newzbin2 client today which revealed that it does indeed defeat known features of Cleanfeed in a number of ways. Initially the client tries to resolve the site's domain name to an IP in the usual manner via DNS, but from there, and without going into too many details, an encrypted session is initiated between the client and the Newzbin2 site in a way that Cleanfeed won't like, rendering blocking impractical and snooping more or less impossible.

Perhaps from the viewpoint of the UK authorities website blocking could prove to be a bit of a nightmare as it drives more and more people to take evasive action, that will surely make general eavesdropping a whole lot more difficult.


15th September   

Breeding Easy Offence...

A couple of Topman t-shirts wind up the easily offended
Link Here

The clothing chain Topman has been removed from sale supposedly sexist T-shirts.

Some customers complained about two designs, one of which was said to have glamorised domestic violence by listing male excuses such as You provoked me ; I was drunk; I was having a bad day.

The other T-shirt carried the slogan Nice New Girlfriend: What Breed Is She? prompting complaints that women were being likened to cattle and dogs.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of the domestic violence charity Refuge, said:

It is an outrage that such offensive T-shirts were put on sale. Domestic violence takes the lives of two women a week and it is no laughing matter. These T-shirts perpetuate ignorance and misunderstanding. Shame on Topman.

In a statement, a Topman company spokesman said:

We have received some negative feedback regarding two of our printed T-shirts.

Whilst we would like to stress that these T-shirts were meant to be light hearted and carried no serious meaning we have made the decision to remove these from store and on-line as soon as possible.

We would like to apologise to those who may have been offended by these designs.


15th September   

Updated: Dangerous Trolling...

Another internet user jailed for trolling
Link Here
Full story: Internet Trolls...Internet users jailed for trolling

An internet troll who posted abuse on Facebook memorial sites dedicated to dead children has been jailed.

Sean Duffy mocked a 15-year-old schoolgirl who committed suicide, leaving nasty messages and videos on a condolence page set up by her family.

The 25-year-old also hijacked tribute websites of three other children he had never met.

He was sentenced to 18 weeks behind bars and banned from using social networking sites for five years.

He had admitted he was hooked on the sick craze of trolling , where internet users deliberately leave abusive comments on networking sites.

One of his victim's parents hit out at Facebook, calling on the website to do more to tackle the problem after it emerged that one girl wrongly accused by others of posting the messages had attempted suicide.

Reading magistrates heard how the alcoholic, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism surfed the internet looking for tribute sites.

Trolling is an offence under the Malicious Communications Act, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison.

Sentencing him  magistrate Paul Warren said: The offences are so serious only a custodial sentence could be justified.

Update: Next!

15th September 2011.  See  article from

Another man has been charged with posting offensive images on the internet after the doctored picture of a Scottish schoolgirl, shot dead by her boyfriend, appeared on a website, established in her memory.


12th September   

Jersey Post Offends Churches...

Jersey postal workers refuse to distribute Bibles on grounds that they could be offensive
Link Here

Postal workers have refused to deliver CDs of Bible readings after deciding they were offensive material . Several churches had paid for discs with recordings of St Mark's Gospel to be produced to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

They were due to be delivered to all households on the Channel Island of Jersey, but church leaders were told postal workers would not handle the 45,000 CDs.

Rev Liz Hunter of St Helier Methodist Centre said:

Initially Jersey Post seemed quite positive about helping us deliver the CDs. But then a couple of weeks ago somebody from their marketing department phoned to say they would be unable to deliver them on the grounds that they could be deemed offensive. They said there were guidelines about mass material that is sent out across the island and that religious recordings could offend people.

The CDs are now being delivered by volunteers.


10th September   

Update: Music to our Ears...

Government earns brownie points for proposing to remove live music licence censorship
Link Here
Full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

Pubs, clubs and other small venues offering live music would no longer have to apply for an entertainment licence, under government proposals.

The plans, submitted for public consultation, would apply to premises in England and Wales with a capacity of under 5,000. Ministers say the changes could also apply to school and charity events.

Licences would still be required for boxing, wrestling and sexual entertainment, and the rules on alcohol supply and sales would not be affected.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the Licensing Act 2003 removed the so-called two-in-a-bar rule, which had allowed two musicians to perform in a pub without needing an entertainment permit, and this was one example of how it ended up potentially criminalising a harmless cultural pastime .

Tourism Minister John Penrose said changes could provide an important source of new income to struggling businesses such as pubs, restaurants and hotels . He said extra costs and red tape had also been imposed on school plays and discos where ticket sales went to Parent Teacher Association funds, Punch and Judy shows, street artists, park brass bands and restaurant pianists.

Penrose added:

Before we press ahead, it's important we get the views of those working in the industry, and to make sure that the principles of public safety, prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm are safeguarded.

Our starting point is a simple one: If there's no good reason for any of the rules and restrictions in this important area, our presumption should be to scrap them.


10th September   

Symbolic Dangers...

Nazi flag stirs up sensitivities in Guernsey
Link Here

A Guernsey angler as defended his right to fly any flag, even a swastika , from his boat, despite objections from others who use the area.

Darren Salituri decided to fly his flag, a black swastika in a white circle against a red background, with a skull and crossbones in the centre and SS symbols in the corners.

When he came back to his boat a few days later he found the banner had been tied in a knot and he said he had received threats because of it.

The controversy didn't stop there though, the shop that ordered the flag for Salituri have also come in for stick.

Fancy That shop in Vauvert sells fancy dress costumes and memorabilia. Manager Jo Francis said that they had ordered in the Nazi banners last year at the request of Salituri and other people.

Now Francis fears for the shop's safety after receiving hate phone calls following her admission that the business sells swastika flags and hires out Nazi uniforms.

As the Channel Island's Jewish community leader criticised the island's attitude towards Jews, Francis revealed that she had returned to the fancy dress shop late Wednesday night to protect the premises, fearing angry islanders would damage it.

My phone was ringing all yesterday afternoon, she said: People have been saying I'm a devil and a witch... It is not nice.'


9th September   

Update: Old Joke Already...

Hopefully the Divisional Court will see the funny side on resumption of the Twitter Joke Trial on 10th November
Link Here
Full story: Police Twitter Twits...Man charged over terrorism quip on twitter

PThe appeal of Paul Chambers in the twitter joke trial is to take place on 10 November. The trainee accountant from Doncaster who was convicted for sending supposedly threatening messages after he joked on Twitter that he would blow up Robin Hood Airport if his flight was cancelled.

The appeal before the divisional courts of the Queen's Bench comes one year after he lost his crown court appeal.


8th September   

Update: Bands Unbanned...

Government proposes to remove live music licence censorship
Link Here
Full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

Pubs and clubs wanting to offer live music would no longer be forced to apply to the local council for an entertainment licence under a planned deregulation aimed at supporting grassroots music.

The proposal is part of a government consultation to be unveiled by John Penrose, the tourism and heritage minister, amid warnings that small venues have been abandoning live music because of the bureaucracy introduced by the 2003 Licensing Act.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music, which represents the UK's commercial music industry, said:

We're optimistic that this will be positive news for the industry, and especially for emerging talent. I'd wager that all of yesterday's Mercury music prize nominees started their careers playing in pubs or clubs. In the meantime, we'll have to wait for the actual detail of the consultation, and under what specific circumstances the requirement for a music licence would be removed.

Parliamentarians have been calling for several years for the restriction to be removed. Prior to the 2003 Act, a two-in-a-bar exemption existed, allowing venues of any size to put on a performance of acoustic music by one or two musicians without the need for a licence.

However, the ministerial proposals are understood to go further than that. Large venues with a capacity of more than 5,000 would continue to be subject to premises licensing as before, but small venues would save on average £ 1,600 a year and be freed of the requirement to register with the council.


8th September   


Woman charged with racially aggravated harassment over a golliwog toy in her window
Link Here

A woman has been charged with racially aggravated harassment after a neighbour complained about a golliwog displayed in her window.

Police investigated Jena Mason over an alleged incident in August, Suffolk police confirmed.

Both the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and ourselves have agreed there is enough to prosecute, police said. Ms Mason is due to appear before Lowestoft magistrates on 13 September.

Her solicitor James Hartley said she was devastated and intended to plead not guilty to the charge.

Update: More to the story

9th September 2011. See  article from

Pretty naff reporting from the BBC who reported only half the story

See better article .

Update: Acquitted

25th October 2011. Based on article from

Racial harassment charges have been dropped against a woman who allegedly displayed a golliwog toy in her window. Jena Mason was arrested after her black neighbour Rosemarie O'Donnell complained about the doll to police.

But at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court, the Crown Prosecution Service, offered no evidence. In a hearing lasting less than five minutes, a CPS officer said a review has been carried out at the highest level On the evidence available, it is not possible to show exactly who was responsible for placing the doll in the window. Despite further inquiry and review, we have determined that the evidence is insufficient and there is not a realistic prospect of conviction.


7th September   

Police Dummies...

Police prove 'inappropriate' to the job of patrolling the streets of Sheffield
Link Here

When a party shop owner put a mannequin dressed as Colonel Gaddafi on the run in his doorway, he thought passers-by would see the funny side of it.

But two heavy-handed PCSOs marched into the store - and told staff to take down because it was supposedly offensive .

The mock-Gaddafi - dressed in bright pink tights and clutching a sign which read you ain't seen me right - was meant as a light-hearted prank.

Owner Peter Tooley never dreamed that his Party Town store would be accused of stirring up tensions.  Staff at the store in Sheffield said today they were surprised by the police over-reaction because no one had complained about the stunt.

A police spokesman confirmed the PCSOs had acted even though nobody had complained and said:

Two PCSOs, on normal patrol duties called into the shop to ask if they would mind taking the mannequin out of the shop window, as some people may find it inappropriate.

This advice was given in an attempt to prevent possible community tension on a sensitive issue.


3rd September   

Update: Serious Censorship Powers...

Nominet recommend that police be given wide power to shut down websites used for 'serious' crime, a label which covers many minor crimes too
Link Here
Full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

UK Police could get new powers to suspend internet domain names without a court order if they're being used for illegal activity, under rules proposed by .uk registry manager Nominet.

A Nominet volunteer policy team has recommended the creation of an expedited process for shutting down addresses when the police say the urgent suspension of the domain name is necessary to prevent serious and immediate consumer harm .

The proposed rules, if adopted, would apply to any address ending in .uk. Shutting down a domain name effectively shuts down the associated website and email.

In order for a domain to be grabbed under the policy, a law enforcement agency would have to file a declaration with Nominet that a seizure would be proportionate, necessary, and urgent . Police would not need to seek court approval, however, in order to have a site taken down.

Domains being used to commit any of an extremely long list of crimes covered by the Serious Crimes Act 2007, eg counterfeiting, fraud, prostitution, money laundering, blackmail and copyright infringement, would be eligible for seizure under the policy.

The policy recommendations envision an explicit exception for cases where freedom of expression is at stake. There would also be an appeals process and a periodic policy review.

The latest Nominet recommendations are still open for comment. See consultation details at


29th August   

Update: Sold Out...

Amnesty International give 'freedom of expression' award to 'trafficking' production linked to the Poppy Project
Link Here
Full story: Trafficking Hype...Trafficking figures hopelessly over exaggerated

Amnesty International has announced two winners of its [ previously ] prestigious Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Fringe:

  • Sold , directed by Catherine Alexander at the Pleasance Courtyard
  • The Wheel , directed by Vicky Featherstone at the Traverse.

The award, given to an outstanding Fringe production carrying a human rights message, in association with Fest magazine, was presented by Amnesty International Scotland Director John Watson. This year saw a record number of entries, with 92 productions nominated.

John Watson said:

This was a year of firsts for the Freedom of Expression Award: the first time we'd had such a huge number of entries; the first comedian to be shortlisted in Mark Thomas; and our first joint winners, 'Sold' and 'The Wheel'.

With 92 productions entering for the award it's perhaps fitting that we have two winners this year. Both are superb productions in quite different ways -- but in both cases audiences are confronted with challenging questions about human rights.

Amnesty marks its 50th birthday this year and protecting the right to freedom of expression has always been at the heart of our what we do. It's why we've always worked so closely with artists and performers and it's why we're delighted to be giving this award today.

The judging panel said of the two productions:

The Wheel is a complex and epic story of how children can be corrupted by the ravages of war. By lurching through the centuries the way it does, it brings home the message that circumstances too often dictate how lives can go off the rails in a brilliantly performed, masterfully directed and profound piece of work that offers no easy answers except hope.

Sold is an ambitious, fast-moving show which combines a strong overview of the whole issue of slavery in human society with a series of powerful cameos of individual stories, involving trafficking into this country now. It's a memorable piece of agitprop drama which leaves us in no doubt that despite the increasing exposure of human trafficking in recent years, and widespread political debate on the issue, it is a problem that is not going away; in fact, if anything, it is growing worse, demanding real action from us all.

[However the background to SOLD was that it was developed with research linked to the Human Trafficking Foundation,  Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) and the Poppy Project. It looks like Amnesty International have fallen for the campaigning hype that trafficking is far more widespread than it actually is. Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) and the Poppy Project both campaign for men to be criminalised just for paying for sex. Hardly what I'd call champions of human rights for all].

The other shortlisted productions were: Extreme Rambling (Walking the Wall) , by Mark Thomas, at The Bongo Club; and Release , by Icon Theatre at the Pleasance Dome.


19th August   

Updated: Anti-Social Social Networking...

Riot sentences related to the internet
Link Here
Full story: Social Networking Censorship in the UK...Internet censorship set to solve Britain's broken society

Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan both pleaded guilty to using Facebook in attempts to instigate riots in Cheshire. They have been jailed for four years

Jordan Blackshaw set up an event called Smash Down in Northwich Town for the night of 8 August on the social networking site but no one apart from the police, who were monitoring the page, turned up at the pre-arranged meeting point outside a McDonalds restaurant. Blackshaw was promptly arrested.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan used his Facebook account in the early hours of 9 August to design a web page entitled The Warrington Riots. The court was told it caused a wave of panic in the town. When he woke up the following morning with a hangover, he removed the page and apologised, saying it had been a joke. His message was distributed to 400 Facebook contacts, but no rioting broke out as a result.

Sentencing Blackshaw to four years in a young offenders institution, Judge Elgan Edwards QC said he had committed an evil act . This happened at a time when collective insanity gripped the nation. Your conduct was quite disgraceful and the title of the message you posted on Facebook chills the blood. T he judge said Sutcliffe-Keenan caused a very real panic and put a very considerable strain on police resources in Warrington .

The revelation that magistrates were advised by justices' clerks to disregard normal sentencing guidelines when dealing with riot-related cases alarmed a number of lawyers who warn it will trigger a spate of appeals.

Water Fights

Based on article from

A man will appear before magistrates next month for allegedly trying to organise a mass water fight via his mobile phone. The 20-year-old from Colchester was arrested on Friday after Essex police discovered the alleged plans circulating on the BlackBerry Messenger service and Facebook.

The unnamed man has been charged with encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence under the 2007 Serious Crime Act, police said.

He was arrested with another 20-year-old man the day the water fight was allegedly due to take place, and has been bailed to appear before Colchester magistrates on 1 September. The second man was released without charge.

Update: Dundee Riots?

19th August 2011. See  article from

A schoolboy has been banned from using the internet until he stands trial accused of trying to incite riots on Facebook. The 14-year-old boy appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court. He was arrested along with Shawn Divin and Jordan McGinley who were remanded in custody.

The schoolboy appeared on a petition alleging that along with Divin and McGinley he encouraged others to riot in Dundee. Prosecutors say the trio acted in a disorderly manner by creating the page between 9 and 10 August. The 14-year-old was released on bail with the condition that he does not access the internet by any means.

Update: Northwich Riots?

19th August 2011.  See  article from

A Cheshire man jailed for using Facebook to incite disorder during last week's riots is to appeal against his prison sentence.

Jordan Blackshaw was jailed for four years at Chester Crown Court. The judge said he hoped the sentences would act as a deterrent.

Blackshaw's barrister said his 21-year-old client and his family were somewhat shocked by the sentence .

Update: Bream Riots?

19th August 2011.  See  article from

A 19-year-old in Gloucestershire who posted Facebook messages encouraging people to vandalise a shop during last week's riots has avoided court.

Joshua Moulinie posted a message on his Facebook wall urging people to damage the Spar store in his home town of Bream, Forest of Dean. But instead of facing the courts, Moulinie - who said it was a blatant joke - was told to write a letter of apology to the shop owner.

Update: Two More

19th August 2011.  See  article from

Two more people have been charged with inciting public disorder via social network sites and are due to appear in court on Thursday, Cheshire police said.

A 24-year-old man from Runcorn is due to appear at Warrington Magistrates Court and a 17-year-old male from Crewe will appear at Crewe Magistrates Court.

Update: Appeals

1st October 2011.   See  article from

Two men jailed for four years for setting up Facebook pages inciting others to riot have challenged their manifestly excessive custodial terms.

Lawyers for Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan told three Court of Appeal judges that what their clients had done was monumentally foolish , hugely stupid and hugely short-sighted .

But they urged the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting in London with Lord Justice Thomas and Lord Justice Leveson, to rule that their sentences were too long.

Chester Crown Court had heard that Blackshaw set up a Facebook event called Smash Down In Northwich Town but nobody turned up at the meeting point outside a McDonald's restaurant.

Sutcliffe-Keenan's page, The Warrington Riots, invited people to riot on the evening of Wednesday August 10 between 7pm and 10pm.

Gareth Roberts, counsel for Blackshaw, told the appeal judges: Four years goes well beyond what could be a properly deterrent sentence and could properly be deemed to be a fair sentence, even in the context of what was going on nationwide.

Judgement was deferred to a later date.

Update: Appeal Outcomes

19th October 2011. See article from , thanks to Nick
See also Rejecting these riot appeals is no deterrent from by Alan Travis

Appeals by two men jailed for using Facebook to try to incite disorder during August's riots in England have been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan and Jordan Blackshaw were among 10 people challenging riot-related sentences. The court rejected five other appeals but cut the sentences for three people convicted of handling stolen goods.

Update: Joking in Hastings

22nd November 2011. See  article from

A man has been cleared inciting looting at the height of the nationwide riots in the summer with a series of Facebook messages.

A jury decided unemployed Nathan Sinden was joking when he wrote comments including: Let's start a riot in Hastings. Who's on it? In postings visible to his 754 Facebook friends, he also wrote: Looting it is then today. Who's up for shopping? and followed it up with Town on lockdown. LOL. But in a private chat thread on Facebook, Sinden was asked by a friend whether he was serious about his comments and he confirmed he was joking.

Shaven-headed Sinden, of St Leonards-on-Sea, was arrested the following day but told police he was joking and never had any intention to follow through with his threats. He denied intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of burglary.

Jurors sitting at Hove Crown Court returned a not guilty verdict after deliberating for 30 minutes.

Update: Riot in the Toon

21st December 2011. See  article from

Two teenagers who used Facebook to try to start a riot in a Scottish city have been locked up for three years each.

Shawn Divin, 16, and Jordan McGinley, 18, were administrators of a Facebook page called Riot in the toon which urged people to kill some daftys .

The Dundee riot page was published during the summer's unrest in England.

Update: Southampton Riots

22nd June 2012. See  article from

A man who used Facebook to try to incite violence and urged others to attack the police and Muslims during the height of last summer's riots has been jailed for three years.

A jury took less than two hours to find Mitchell Stancombe, 21, guilty of encouraging and assisting people to commit violent disorder.

He made three posts on his personal page on the social networking site on 9 August starting with the words: When are we going to start the Southampton riots then? When told to shut up by a friend, he replied: LOL -- do a few coppers in. He then made a post which included an abusive remark about Muslims.The posts, which could be accessed by anyone, were made during widespread rioting in Birmingham, Manchester, Derby, London and Liverpool.


18th August   

Petition: Save Our Social Media! Stop Cutoffs and Closedowns...

The Open Rights Groups raises a petition against David Cameron's jerky knee
Link Here
Full story: Social Networking Censorship in the UK...Internet censorship set to solve Britain's broken society have set up the following petition:

Prime Minister David Cameron announced that social media could be used for good or ill and therefore would look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality .

We know this is a knee-jerk reaction. If it involved suspension of services, it would be unworkable, and would hit people trying to stop disorder or protect themselves. Targeting individuals would need to be supervised by the courts: but the UK usually leaves decisions like this to the Police, rather than courts, as in RIPA.

The Government is focusing on entirely the wrong problem in trying to increase their powers to ban, block or monitor people's communications. Social networks like Twitter are used for a huge array of positive purposes such as warnings of danger and organising clean up projects. Blanket surveillance measures of private communications or increased powers to mine users data would undermine people's freedom to communicate in very damaging ways, and would in no way address the problems at hand. Making laws in haste, with limited analysis and information, to deal with an exceptional problem is likely to create unbalanced laws and abuses of our rights.

...Sign the petition


17th August   

Update: Anti-Social Social Networking...

Met Police report on call for social networking to be taken down during riots
Link Here
Full story: Social Networking Censorship in the UK...Internet censorship set to solve Britain's broken society

Police claim they prevented attacks by rioters on the Olympic site and London's Oxford Street after picking up intelligence on social networks.

The Blackberry Messenger (BBM) system is popular among many young people because they think it is both private and secure. Users are invited to join each other's contacts list using a unique PIN, although once they have done so, messages can be distributed to large groups.

Assistant Met Police Commissioner Lynne Owens told a committee of MPs officers learned of possible trouble via Twitter and Blackberry messenger. Owens said officers had been attempting to sift through an overwhelming amount of chitter chatter on social networks during last week's riots in London, but some had proved vital.

But Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin said that on Monday, when disorder spread to 22 of London's 32 boroughs, police were receiving a new piece of intelligence every second. And while much of the information coming via social media was obviously wrong and rather silly , he said police did considered trying to shut the networks down in order to prevent them being used to organise further violence:

We did contemplate, I contemplated, asking the authorities to switch it off. The legality of that is very questionable and additionally, it is also a very useful intelligence asset. So, as a result of that, we did not request that that was turned off, but it is something that we are pursuing as part of our investigative strategy.


13th August   

Update: A Riotous Blame Game...

And today's entrant for the Blame of the Year award is the movie Shank
Link Here
Full story: A Riotous Blame Game...So what is to blame for the 2011 hoodie riots

The Daily Mail writes:

A teenager who incited his 2,000 Facebook friends to riot was inspired by a violent cult film about gangs ruling the streets, a court has heard.

Amed Pelle, 18, sent three messages on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday following the outbreak of violence in his home city of Nottingham.

The first two read: Nottz Riot whose onit? and Kill one black youth, we kill a million Fedz [police], riot til we own cities .

In his third message, Pelle asked if friends wanted goods from a fashion shop. He wrote: Rioting 2nyt anyone want anything from Flannels? The store, in the city centre, had its windows smashed hours later.

Unemployed Pelle pleaded guilty at Nottingham magistrates' court to a breach of section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007. He was remanded in custody for sentencing at the city's crown court.

Prosecutor John Wallis said Pelle told police that he had watched a film called Shank , in which gangs take over London, and that he wanted the same to happen here . The 2010 film depicted an apocalyptic future capital where gangs of youths rule the streets and carry out looting and wanton violence.

Pelle, who is from Cuba, was arrested after police officers spotted the messages while monitoring social networking sites during the trouble in the city.


11th August   

Updated: Unblamed...

Evening Standard changes its mind about blaming the riots on Grand Theft Auto
Link Here
Full story: A Riotous Blame Game...So what is to blame for the 2011 hoodie riots

The London Evening Standard, whose front page suggested Grand Theft Auto had inspired London's riots, later issued a reprint binning the game blame reference altogether.

The paper originally carried the blurb: Children as young as ten, inspired by video game, among the looters , along with a Lawless London headline.

However, the sub-head later switched to: Children as young as ten hunted by Police . All reference to Grand Theft Auto was also removed from the main story.

The change followed pressure from CVG's WRONG campaign, as well as other games media and outraged fans on Twitter.

...Read the full article

Update: Safermedia join in the GTA Blame Game

11th August 2011. See  article from

Safermedia write:

We are in the process of drawing the government's attention to the role of the media in the riots. Not the only cause, but a very significant one that must not be ignored. See how the hugely popular videogame Grand Theft Auto glamourises crime.


2nd August   

Update: Setting a Bad Example...

Article 19 notes that UK internet censorship will set a bad international precedent
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

The High Court's decision requiring British Telecom to block access to the file-indexing website, sets a worrying international precedent against the right to freedom of expression.

The decision sets too low the threshold for ordering blocking, fails to properly balance the right to property with the right to freedom of expression, and shows no consideration for the chilling effect such a decision would have. Ordering the blocking of an entire domain name, as opposed to specific webpages, is also likely to breach the requirement for necessity in international law.

Although ARTICLE 19 supports development of clear standards related to online copyright infringement, the judgment of the English High Court on 28 July 2011 sets a worrying precedent which could have a dramatic chilling effect on legitimate online content. It is also highly likely to breach international standards of freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 19 notes with concern that the judge granted the website blocking injunction not only in relation to the studios' own films but also those of third parties who were not involved in the case, on the basis that there was no reason to believe that they would not support it. The judge accepted that the order would also prevent BT subscribers from making use of for legitimate purposes, but considered that there was little evidence that the site was being used in this way.

ARTICLE 19 believes that the high court order is very likely to breach international standards for the protection of freedom of expression, in particular the principle that any restriction on freedom of expression for a legitimate aim must be proportionate.

The ruling gives short shrift to this well-established principle as follows:

  • In its judgment, the high court failed to carry out a proper balancing exercise between freedom of expression and the right to property. In particular, the judge provided very little reasoning for his conclusion that the intellectual property rights of the studios clearly outweighed the free speech rights of BT and its many UK users;
  • The threshold for granting such a website blocking order was set very low, despite its obviously far-reaching consequences. In particular, the studios simply had to show that BT knew that one or more persons were using its service to infringe copyright, and that was sufficient to justify an order blocking the entire site;
  • Moreover, little or no consideration was given to the chilling effect that the order is highly likely to have on freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet, especially legitimate online content. This is borne out by the overly broad terms of the order sought, which is directed to the website's domains and sub domains rather than specific URLs deemed illegitimate. In ARTICLE 19's view, any order seeking to block access to domain names as a whole rather than specific URLs is very likely to breach the requirement of necessity under international law. In this respect, ARTICLE 19 also points out to a July 2011 report by the OSCE Special Representative for Freedom of the Media said that Arguably, the practice of banning access to entire websites, and the future publication of articles thereof (whose content is unknown at the time of access blocking) goes beyond any notion of necessary restraint in a democratic society and, instead, amounts to censorship .

ARTICLE 19 urges the establishment of clear legislative standards in this area in order to strike a fairer balance between the interests of rights holders and Internet users and better protect freedom of expression on the Internet.


30th July   

Updated: Internet Censorship in the UK...

High Court orders BT to block Newzbin 2
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

A High Court judge has ruled that BT must block access to a website which provides links to pirated movies.

Newzbin 2 is a members-only site which aggregates a large amount of copied material found on Usenet discussion forums.

The landmark case is the first time that a UK ISP has been ordered to block access to such a site.

It paves the way for other sites to be blocked.

In his ruling, Justice Arnold stated: In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the Studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes.

The Motion Picture Association, which represents the likes of Warner, Disney and Fox, launched the legal action to close down Newzbin 2. MPA signalled its intention to pursue other ISPs.

The judge ruled that BT must use its blocking technology CleanFeed - which is currently used to prevent access to websites featuring child sexual abuse - to block Newzbin.

The Internet Service Providers' Association has been a fierce critic of web blocking. It said that using blocking technology, designed to protect the public from images of child abuse, was inappropriate.

Currently CleanFeed is dealing with a small, rural road in Scotland, ISPA council member James Blessing told BBC Radio 4's PM programme. Trying to put Newzbin and other sites into the same blocking technology would be a bit like shutting down the M1. It is not designed to do that.

Update: Case by Case

30th July 2011. See  article from

BT's head of retail Simon Milner has admitted that the company is not deliriously happy , but BT won't be appealing the decision.

He told the Register that: We believe in an open internet -- we won't do any other blocking . We will never stop our customers getting to any service they want to get to. Unless a court orders us to.

Although the case went against BT, Milner points out that a test case has finally made the law clear. And since web-blocking requires a court order, he says BT is satisfied with that. Each web-blocking request will have to go before a court -- where a judge must examine it on its merits.

There's no suggestion in this judgement that BT has done anything wrong as an innocent intermediary. We said it's questionable whether an intermediary can have these obligations put on it. Now we know.

Comment: Blocking Newzbin2 paves the way for internet censorship

30th July 2011.  See  article from by Loz Kaye

T he court decision to allow BT to block the pirate site means Hollywood is dictating our internet policy


There is no good reason to believe that this will end at copyright enforcement, for example those fond of libel action will no doubt be eyeing this result with interest. One of the most depressing aspects of the case is that is the blocking is to be enacted using the system set up to address the issue of child abuse images on the net. This system was simply not made for a hugely wider remit, and frankly the use of Cleanfeed seems shockingly cynical. Assurances given that it would only ever be used for dealing with this most appalling of crimes now seem hollow

...Readv the full article


30th July   

Update: Inciting Violence...

First conviction under law against inciting religious hatred
Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Jailing Bilal Zaheer Ahmad for 12 years, Mr Justice Royce said he was sending out a loud and clear warning that Britain would not tolerate extremists preaching messages of hate and violence.

Ahmad who called on Muslims to murder MPs who supported the Iraq war, was the first person to be found guilty of inciting religious hatred under new laws banning the publication of inflammatory material.

The IT worker praised 21-year-old university student Roshonara Choudhry as a heroine for stabbing Stephen Timms in east London in May last year. Ahmad called on other Muslims to follow in her footsteps by attacking and killing politicians who had voted to support the war in Iraq. He posted a full list of MPs and provided an internet link to their personal contact details, suggesting constituency surgeries were a good place to encounter them in person .

The judge told Ahmad: You purport to be a British citizen, but what you stand for is totally alien to what we stand for in our country. You became a viper in our midst willing to go to as far as possible to strike at the heart of our system.


6th July   

A Talent for Blogging...

Police caution blogger for malicious but convincing post about a fixed Britain's Got Talent TV show
Link Here

A man has been cautioned by police after making internet allegations about the Britain's Got Talent TV show, it emerged today.

An anonymous blogger caused a stir last month after claiming that Ronan Parke, a 12-year-old who did well on the show, had been groomed for stardom by Simon Cowell for two years.

Cowell called in the police after the blogger alleged Parke already had a management deal and had been moulded to appeal to the audience.

Today a Scotland Yard spokesman said: We can confirm that a 52-year-old man has accepted a caution under the Malicious Communications Act. There is no further police action.

A spokeswoman for Sony Music said: A man has now admitted responsibility for the wholly untrue blogs relating to Ronan Parke and the false allegations against Britain's Got Talent, Sony Music and Syco. He has admitted he has absolutely no connection with Ronan Parke, Sony Music, Syco, or Britain's Got Talent. He has apologised both via the police and directly to those involved and the matter will not be taken further.


4th July   

Leafleting, A Liberty Lost...

Local councils ban leafleting
Link Here

Over the past few years it has become almost impossible to hand out leaflets in many UK town and city centres.

Using powers contained in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, local authorities have introduced leafleting zones within which people must buy a licence if they want to hand out flyers.

These rules have been catastrophic for village halls, circuses, political campaigners, comedy clubs and nightclubs.

Our new report Leafleting: A Liberty Lost? charts the rapid spread of these unnecessary rules, and finds that 27% of councils now restrict public leafleting.

The report calls for a review of local authorities' no-tolerance policies, and for a more liberal regime that recognises leafleting as part of a free and vibrant civic life.

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