Sunday, October 18, 2009

Now Carter-Ruck Hush Up is Forging the Parliamentary Agenda #carterruck #trafigura

You have got to hand it to Carter-Ruck, they are failing miserably to work for their current and future clients (should they get any) benefit.

Earlier this week they fought they would throw their hand in to hush the Guardian up about them publishing a Parliamentary Question relating to their clients Trafigura dumping toxic waste off the Ivory Coast. While they temporally silenced the mainstream media the blogosphere and Twitterverse jumped in.

Of course the next matter was the issue of the Bill of Rights in 1688. The freedom enshrined in that for Parliament to be reported in the press and the Lib Dem's Paul Burstow called for a debate on the freedom of reporting Parliament even before Carter-Ruck backed down initially. I'm glad to see that on Wednesday the Speaker John Bercow has scheduled a debate over the issue of super-injunctions and their attempt to keep the discussion of the law makers in Parliament out of the papers. He said:

"Debate in the house in such situations is governed by the sub judice rules which leaves the chair [the Speaker] with discretion to allow reference to cases within limits determined by the chair," he said. "I have exercised that discretion and a debate will take place on 21 October at 2.30pm on the 'effects of English libel law on the reporting of parliamentary proceedings'."

Even on Thursday of last week Carter-Ruck were still trying to get Parliament to keep schtum when partner in the firm Alan Tucker wrote to the Speaker, every MP and Lord on Thursday saying he believed a parliamentary debate should not go ahead because the case concerning the existing injunction was "sub judice". The following day his firms injunction was lifted.

Paul Farrelly the MP whose question caused the ructions last week said:

"Carter-Ruck have got a real nerve. Firstly they tried and failed to suppress news that they had obtained a gagging order against the Guardian. Then they tried to ask the Speaker to gag parliament itself. This affair has shown us that privileges protecting press freedom are sometimes only as strong as their assertion. The Speaker and parliament must stand up to people like Carter-Ruck who aggressively try to encroach on these freedoms."
On Wednesday it is the time for the House to do just that. Stand up and tighten the rights of the free press, yeah even if it allows the Daily Fail to print the words that come out of Jan Moir's keyboard. It is time to make that stance to stop law firms showing contempt of Parliament and trying to determine what can be discussed and therefore reported from within.

Parliament are the peoples' representatives not some big law firm, if they take an interest in the minutiae of something there is probably a reason. Sadly Carter-Ruck appear not to have learnt their lesson so it is right for Parliament to stress its authority and the right of the press to report back to the people of their proceedings.

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