The Sketch: 'The culture clash was no more pronounced when Badger got Toad in to give him a good talking to'


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The Independent Online

On this side - peers and senior MPs of the Joint Privacy and Injunctions Committee; parliamentarians of age, honour and wisdom. On that side - tweeters, bloggers and other internet riff raff - that is, heroes of the modern age, who live and die by their reputation.

Michael Dobbs is a literary lord so he asked about money. How much did these bloggy things make, in terms of money. Jamie East (who engagingly described himself as "failed managing director of Holy Moly") shook his shoulder length hair and laughed half to Guido, "I'm not telling him!" The wiser lords looked very grave at this.

Richard Wilson (he broke the Trafigura super-injunction) informed Lord Thomas that having looked up "rule of law" on Wikipedia he knew that open and transparent justice was essential to that legal concept. As Lord Thomas is a judicial peer of Mosaic standing this was wonderfully funny. Especially as Britain agrees with Richard Wilson on super-injunctions: "A judge passing a secret edict is undermining the rule of law." The peers heards this as: "Laws? Yeah yeah, yada yada."

The culture clash was no more pronounced when Badger got Toad in to give him a good talking to. Toad, if you remember would confess to anything when he was called into that awful study. It didn't turn out quite like. Toads aren't what they were.

Paul Staines, handsome, popular, successful (or at least two out of those three) - he edits Guido Fawkes. He made a very poor impression on the committee. He told them they had a lower level of credibility than bloggers; that their expenses were of great public interest; that judges' decisions were to be treated with the respect they deserved and that the idea he had no money and therefore wasn't worth suing - that was a slander.

But the thing that made Lord Myners jaw drop was an age-old English reaction from the dissident tradition. He had given a legal tutorial to Lord Janvrin by refusing to admit the existence of a privacy law in this country and was then asked: "If Parliament debated it and passed a privacy law would you obey it?"

"I don't think so, " Staines said in a tone that meant, "Nah." The peers was appalled. And no doubt it was very wrong, but it certainly forces you on to one side of the argument.