Friday 18 March 2011

Quotes of the Week: From super-injunctions to a local newspaper that, sadly, no longer functions

Daily Telegraph leader on Sir Fred Goodwin's super-injunction: "Fortunately, there is one thing that trumps the 'human right' to silence a free press, and that is the legal privilege of MPs to say anything they like in Parliament, which dates back to the Civil War. Secret super-injunctions are, in theory, extremely powerful instruments – but, thanks to that ancient freedom, this particular one lies in shreds."

Padraig Reidy, of Index on Censorship, tells the Telegraph: “The laws on injunctions and super-injunctions are stuck in the past and really do not take into account the speed and the way people communicate on the internet today. It is nigh on impossible once something has broken on social networking sites to put the cat back in the bag. On the internet there is a real sense of a right to information.”

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke unveiling the draft Defamation Bill: "The right to speak freely and debate issues without fear of censure is a vital cornerstone of a democratic society. In recent years though, the increased threat of costly libel actions has begun to have a chilling effect on scientific and academic debate, and investigative journalism. The Government's draft Defamation Bill will ensure that anyone who makes a statement of fact or expresses an honest opinion can do so with confidence."

John Kampfner, chief executive of Index on Censorship: “I know that certain publications will not write about billionaire businessmen because the costs of a single libel action could ruin them. The government’s draft defamation bill is a big step forward towards ending the practice of libel tourism which has led our Courts to silence free speech around the world. But without action to reduce the cost of a libel trial, reform will protect the free speech of some, but costs will silence others.”

International Federation of Journalists general secretary Aidan White: “The crisis in Libya is intensifying and the risks to journalists are increasing by the hour. As government forces turn their fire on Benghazi we can expect that journalists reporting from the city will face extraordinary threats. It’s important that media act to protect their staff.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaking at Cambridge University: "While the internet has in some ways an ability to let us know to an unprecedented level what government is doing, and to let us co-operate with each other to hold repressive governments and repressive corporations to account, it is also the greatest spying machine the world has ever seen."

David House, a friend of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of passing secrets to WikiLeaks, in the Guardian: "You can hear Bradley coming from a long way away because of the chains – his feet have chains on them, they go to a leather belt around his waist. His hands go into them and he has no free movement of his hands."

Woking News & Mail reader Rachel Tytherleigh on the closure of the paper: "My daughter, Lucy Constantine, has been a member of the WN&M's Press Gang for a couple of years now. She was looking forward to seeing her 10th birthday printed in the Press Gang section on March 24. Unfortunately, ...this can no longer happen."

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