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The Guardian gagged

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

This, from today’s Guardian newspaper, is worth quoting quite extensively.

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 Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

Those of you who have followed Pressylta postings on McKennitt v Ash (for the past few millennia, it seems…) will be intrigued to find out what fresh doo-dah has been cooked up by our learned friends this time. So will I.

Three minutes later: The utter nonsense inherent in these gagging orders becomes only too obvious once you’ve entered the relevant keywords into Google… I now know everything about something I would have known nothing about, had Carter-Ruck not acted the way they did. That’ll learn’em. Or maybe not.

Later p.m.: And so the gag has been lifted: for further info follow the links Fredrik provides in the comments. There is in law, as we know, a particularly thin line between the outrageous and the ludicrous. Outfits like Carter-Ruck have made an art form out of strutting that line, while looking murderously serious at the same time. If you ever wondered what a “PR disaster” looks like, look no further.


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