– Guardian gagged from reporting parliament:
“The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.
Today’s published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.”
The question from Paul Farrelly MP which was subject to a gagging order related to the Trafigura toxic waste scandal
The existence of a previously secret injunction against the media by oil traders Trafigura can now be revealed.
Within the past hour Trafigura’s legal firm, Carter-Ruck, has withdrawn its opposition to the Guardian reporting proceedings in parliament that revealed its existence.
Labour MP Paul Farrelly put down a question yesterday to the justice secretary, Jack Straw. It asked about the injunction obtained by “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”.
David Heath MP: ‘The public have a right to know what is said in the House of Commons’ Link to this audio
Here is the full text of Farrelly’s question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Justice 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.”
Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian editor, welcomed the move. He said: “I’m very pleased that common sense has prevailed and that Carter-Ruck’s clients are now prepared to vary this draconian injunction to allow reporting of parliament. It is time that judges stopped granting ‘super-injunctions’ which are so absolute and wide-ranging that nothing about them can be reported at all.”
At Westminster earlier today urgent questions were tabled by the Liberal Democrats in an attempt to get an emergency debate about the injunction.
Bloggers were active this morning in ‘speculating’ (Bloggers came up with the correct answer, which pressed the UK censorship into allowing the Guardian to report it now.) about what lay behind the ban on the Guardian reporting parliamentary questions. Proposals being circulated online included plans for a protest outside the offices of Carter-Ruck.
The ban on reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds appeared to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.