Friday 28 August 2009

Committee on Standards in Public Life removes Heather Brooke's evidence from website

Campaigning journalist Heather Brooke, whose Freedom of Information court fight led to MPs' expenses being made public, tells on her blog how the Committee on Standards in Public Life has taken her written evidence off its website, claiming it could be defamatory.
She says: "I gave oral evidence and also submitted an opening statement. I posted this statement on my blog (read it here) and the Committee posted it on their website along with transcripts from the public hearings. The committee’s website states: “The Committee publishes all evidence”.
But she adds :"As of yesterday, my submission went missing and I received the following email:
Dear Ms Brooke,
Our lawyers have advised us not publish your submission due to the following reason:
“it contains statements about named individuals which are potentially defamatory.”
We are currently seeking their clarification and requesting suitable redaction.
Once we have this, I will forward them to you for your authority, in writing, to the redaction. We will then be able to publish your submission."
Heather comments: "What sort of public inquiry is it where those giving evidence can’t speak freely and have to worry about being clobbered by the world’s worst libel law? I don’t think the take-down of my statement is necessarily the fault of the Committee and to be fair, lawyers are always risk averse. What is a disgrace is that it should even be a risk to publish evidence given to a committee set up to investigate parliament."

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