Victory for media in gagging order battle

Tuesday 13 October 2009 13:55
Comments

Victory for the media was achieved today in a battle over the right to publish details of a Parliamentary question in what has been hailed a "great victory for free speech".

The order had been obtained by libel specialists Carter Ruck against the Guardian and by extension The Independent.

It means The Independent and the rest of the media can now publish details of a question tabled by Labour MP Paul Farrelly regarding the effect on whistleblowers and press freedom of it and another specific injunction.

Despite the question being on yesterday's Commons order paper and on the Parliamentary website, The Independent and the media generally were barred from reporting who the MP was, which minister would answer the question, where it might be found or even why the gagging order was in place.

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, condemned the restriction as "Kafka-esque".

MPs had earlier called for an emergency Commons debate on the matter amid outrage at Westminster over an apparent threat to Parliamentary privilege.

"Victory! CarterRuck caves-in. No Guardian court hearing. Media can now report Paul Farrelly's PQ about Trafigura," Mr Rusbridger wrote.

"Thanks to Twitter/all tweeters for fantastic support over past 16 hours! Great victory for free speech," he wrote - hours after saying he was seeking a court hearing to overturn the ban, which The Independent attended in order to oppose the ban.

The question tabled by Mr Farrelly for answer by Justice Secretary Jack Straw asked "what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura"

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in