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Submitted by Bruce on Fri, 20/05/2011 - 15:36

Just after reading these comments I turned on the news to hear a string of senior judges attacking MPs right to use Parliamentary privilege to name people involved in these cases when an injunction has been granted. This does seem to me to be a logical extension of the use of these super-injunctions to silence any discussion of a particular event. Nobody not directly involved in the case - including MPs - will then be able to question whether the judges were right to grant an injunction or not as they will have no means of knowing about or raising it. This can then be used to remove entire areas from free speech as long as lawyers can convince a judge that it is necessary.

I agree with most of the criticisms of this article. Pat wrote "All other things being equal, a libertarian socialist would be for the right of the press to print stories irrespective of whether we agree with them or are comfortable with the content." That is right and seems to me to be the guiding principle we should apply here. This was the principle Socialist Organiser defended when we fought Vanessa Redgrave and the WRP's attempt to silence us in the 80s. (In the course of the case it became clear that much left wing polemic would fall foul of a strict interpretation of the laws of libel.:)) But Pat totally fails to show why other things aren't equal in the cases he discusses - perhaps because, hoist by his own petard, he cannot do so without discussing the actual content of the cases which are subject to the injunctions.

It seems to me that the right to privacy (which I think needs to be qualified in any case) can be balanced legally against free speech by a broad but strict interpretation defined in law of "public interest", which could serve to draw a line between trivial and intrusive tabloid celebrity bollocks and cases like Trafigura. Martin's suggestion to criminalise libel seems to me crazy. It would leave the way open for the state to prosecute all sorts of material they wished not to be published. The only sensible way to equalise things financially is by a massive extension of legal aid to cover libel.

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