Matthew Norman's Diary: Voice of liberty silenced by courts... and The Sun

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The Independent Online

And so it ended, Jon Gaunt's career as SunTalk's Voice of Free Speech, not with a bang or even a whimper, but with deafening dead air. One minute there he was, Gaunty, up at the Court of Appeal, challenging Ofcom's censure over his depiction of a councillor as a "Nazi" on the most convincing human rights grounds. The next, the case duly lost, News International marginally refined its plan to launch a digital station with Gaunty at the helm, into closing SunTalk at once and dropping the digital idea.

Where this leaves the portly Rosa Parks is a question on which it feels ghoulish to dwell, though at the moment he is not on the bus at all. Ordinarily, I'd appeal to his new ally Shami Chakrabarti for a berth in the Liberty press office, but hiring the man who placed Rolf Harris among his Top Ten Greatest Britons might be a stride too far along Affirmative Action Avenue. So on Gaunty's behalf, we look to a more credible potential employer. Is any administrator in Britain currently seeking a presenter for the 12-5am slot at a hospital for the deaf?

* Then again, what about Gaunty going on telly? Richard Desmond is said to be looking unusually pleased with himself, which is going some, in the belief that his bid for Channel Five will shortly be accepted. A richly telegenic sub-sub-Jeremy Kyle figure – who shares the Daily Express' views on immigration and so much else – looks an ideal first big signing for Richard.

* That said, I pray his confidence about snaffling C5 isn't luring him towards the rocks of disappointment. While Jeremy Hunt, the Culture, Media and Sport secretary, is being talked up as a future Tory leader, it would be an act of immense political courage to allow Richard – best known in Reithian terms for the saucy movie channels carried by Sky – to buy a terrestrial network with an ever diminishing, public service remit. We shall see.

* In less joyous legal news, the Times has parted with this industry's longest serving in-house libel lawyer. Alastair Brett left on Friday, possibly by mutual consent, after masterminding the defence ("the biggest own-goal in libel history", as one expert knew it) against the action bought by a certain Detective Sergeant Gary Flood. Après le deluge, pour Brett, rien.

* Will the sneerers never give Jack Straw a minute's peace over his alleged collusion in the torture of British nationals? Jack has told us time and again that he knew nothing about it, yet those whom he so convincingly dismisses as "conspiracy theorists" are at it again. There is one way for Jack to quash this nonsense, though it would involve answering questions in the company of electrodes. And even then, to borrow from Basil Fawlty, you'd have to sew 'em back on first.

* As the Labour leadership election sparkles on, some advice for the Merseyside eyelash model Andy Burnham. Nothing shifts a bemused and ovine electorate, Andy, like a sudden shift in the odds hinting at insider knowledge. You are currently a 45-1 chance on Betfair, but if you spent as little as £300 backing yourself at all available odds, you'd be 1-10 favourite within a few seconds. And from there, who knows?

are there no end to the renaissance talents of Peter Alliss? During the Open's first round on Thursday, the Socrates of snug-bar philosophy drifted away from the golf action at St Andrews towards legal action in the High Court. "Nothing exciting for Colin at the moment," he said at 4.41pm as Colin Montgomerie (Mrs Doubtfire) plodded morosely around St Andews. "Certainly not on the golf course."

That very day at the High Court, meanwhile, in a case Mr Justice Eady decided would be best served by secrecy, the parties' names were allowed to appear on documents, unredacted, as "Montgomie vs Tabb". It can't be long before BBC2 makes an overdue return to the pro-celebrity arena with Around Our Draconian Libel Laws With Alliss.