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Britain Becomes a Closed Society

Britian doorBy John Stone

On Monday the three main British political parties came to an agreement to create a Royal Charter  for press regulation based on the recommendations of Lord Leveson,  which also hints at draconian powers over the internet which may extend across national borders. Inevitably, at the table in the small an hours of Sunday night was the shadowy lobby organisation Hacked Off, which had pretended to act as public watchdog  at the Leveson Inquiry while representing powerful global interests , meanwhile including as an adviser  the pharmaceutically aligned former Member of Parliament Dr Evan Harris, who collaborated with Brian Deer on his "MMR investigation" .  The implication of the charter in its draft form is that it may even attempt to control what is said about British concerns by British citizens on foreign websites, with the threat of legal retribution. The key clause comes in Schedule 4 (1b) (Page 21) :

“relevant publisher” means a person (other than a broadcaster) who publishes in the United Kingdom:

  1. i.    a newspaper or magazine containing news-related material, or
  2. ii.   a website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine)”

If this happened powers could plausibly be used to limit informed comment on such things as the vaccine programme and the causes of the autism epidemic  according to bureaucratic consensus, as we have already seen effectively happens in the British media for the most part without statutory controls, and as is also now being threatened in Australia.

At the inquiry Lord Leveson refused to allow evidence about the conduct of the Sunday Times MMR investigation but took care to hear evidence from the pharma funded PR guru Fiona Fox of Science Media Centre, and he later denounced Andrew Wakefield in his report, none of which was apparently in his original remit. Fox had chaired a Department of Business committee to determine the future of British scientific journalism which included Paul Nuki, who had hired Brian Deer to find “something big” on “MMR”,  and Martin Moore the boss of Hacked Off. Leveson and lead counsel to the inquiry, Robert Jay, also failed to disclose that they themselves had had an historical role in denying British MMR litigants a hearing.

The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday:

“The Royal Charter also states that it will cover 'news-related material' including current affairs news and information, opinion and 'gossip about celebrities, other public figures and other persons in the news'.

“Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship said: 'This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people's web use,' she said.

'Bloggers could find themselves subject to exemplary damages, due to the fact that they were not part of a regulator that was not intended for them in the first place.'

Lawyers have said the wording is unclear and very wide-ranging.

Niri Shan, Head of Media Law at Taylor Wessing, said: 'The wording of the Royal Charter is unclear and if I was Facebook or Twitter or Google I would be concerned about the lack of clarity.

‘If they have a website and it includes news then it could capture them. I don't think the intention is to target bloggers, but currently it would.'

“Mr Shan, one of the UK's top libel lawyers, said that media organisations based abroad have rarely ignored British libel judgements as damages would only be secured against their assets in the UK, like an office.”

The greater threat however is probably to free discussion of issues of real public interest, and restrictions on tittle-tattle a distraction.

Related links:

Sir Crispin Davis and James Murdoch No Longer on GSK Board

Melanie Phillips, ‘A Deer in the Headlights’ Spectator

In Memoriam Paul Foot: Private Eye in an Ethical Tangle Over MMR

Evan Harris Distances Himself From Brian Deer But His Position Remains Untenable

Hacked Off Boss, Martin Moore, Sat on UK Government Panel with Editor who Hired Brian Deer

Open Letter to Sunday Times Editor John Witherow: ‘We wouldn’t do fishing

 Brian Deer Hired to "Find Something Big" on MMR

Brian Deer Lords it at a Pharmaceutical Conference in France

Autism: the 64 billion dollar a year question for Simon Baron-Cohen, Ben Goldacre, Fiona Fox and Autism Speaks UK

An Elaborate Fraud, Part 1: In Which a Murdoch Reporter Deceives the Mother of a Severely Autistic Child 

An Elaborate Fraud, Part 2: In Which a Murdoch Newspaper’s Deceptive Tactics Infect the British Medical Journal 

Newsletter: MMR and MLI – MMR Sunday Times Investigation 22 February 2004  

John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism

Comments

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Lou

Lies, obvious lies and official lies cannot compete with the TRUTH; therefore the TRUTH has to go because the WHOLE STINKING SYSTEM is based on LIES.

The truth has long been mostly driven out of the MSM. The net and some books is all the honest media we have left.

After they have gotten rid of truth on the net I expect to see the book burnings commence.

AussieMum

Thanks John!

We are currently amongst the turmoil of "Freedom of speech" in the media and the deadline for passing the package of six Bills is today (Thursday the 21st March).

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/media-companies-to-front-senate-inquiry-into-conroy-reforms-20130318-2g9mj.html

It will be very interesting what is reported at the end of today!


Elizabeth Gillespie

Benedetta

I am hacked off too.
So does that mean I can join them?
No, I guess not-- we are not hacked off at the same things.

John Stone

Adriana,

I fear with "tragectory" you may have coined an important new word. But, of course, the basis of this is not technical difficulty (and what's wrong with official studies is usually not that hard to explain) it is the sheer bad faith, and what a bunch of malignant busybodies the Hacked Off gang are! We only have to go back to Martin Moore's statement:

'The Hacked Off campaign have been reassured that Dr Evan Harris has never engaged in breaching patients' confidentiality nor was he involved in Brian Deer's MMR investigation. As such we see no reason to believe Dr Harris’ position as an advisor to the Hacked Off campaign has been compromised and he will continue to work closely with us.'

http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/01/evan-harris-distances-himself-from-brian-deer-position-remains-untenable.html

But any tabloid reader can see from the published record that this is a bare-faced untruth. They use the scientific hocus-pocus to confuse but actually the basic deceptions are in the field of human activity.

John

Bob Moffitt

@ Jeannette

"So, attacking the true free press (the internet) was the reason for all the hacking scandal "outrage?"

Yes .. it is said for every "crisis" .. in this case the "hacking scandal" .. there is "opportunity" .. in this case .. to "attack the true free press".

After all .. the "powers that be" have pretty much controlled the "court systems" in the U.K and U.S.

For instance .. the GMC legal apparatus unleashed on Dr. Andrew Wakefield to discredit both himself and his work .. or .. the U.S. Supreme Court decision restricting parents to Vaccine Court absent ANY appeal process in State or Federal Courts.

So .. it makes sense to me .. these "powers that be" would make every effort to control the only court left to the people .. that being the "court of public opinion".

In any event .. we are lucky to have someone like John who maintains a constant vigil over these people .. because .. someone has to LOUDLY "sound the alarm" whenever our liberties are threatened.

Jeannette Bishop

So, attacking the true free press (the internet) was the reason for all the hacking scandal "outrage?"

Was UKIP one of the supporting parties of this charter?

Adriana

John-- The degree to which the Royal Charter will effect science and health reporting makes your title particularly fitting. Of course the charter will also effect reporting on war, exploitation, domestic subjugation and surveillance and financial crimes and its fitting in that sense too. But the press restrictions on the reporting of commercial science clarify a certain definitiion of the closed society perfectly.

In "The Open Society and its Enemies: The Spell of Plato," Karl Raimund Popper describes the difference between the modern "open society" and the tribal "closed society." According to Popper, one of the distinctions of the closed society is the blurring of "natural laws" (the rising and setting of the sun, gravity, etc.)with "normative laws" (legal restrictions, rules of ethical and moral conduct, etc.) which is what, for Popper, defines closed/tribal societies as "magical."

What could better define the current tragectory of commercial science and its government subsidiaries? A greater part of new "magic" is technological and seems to hinge on the fact that so much of the controversy over commercial science and the ways it impacts human health and the policies of these government subsidiaries of certain industries boil down to arguments over cellular level effects-- tumors and infertility caused by GMOs, autism and chronic disease caused by vaccines, cancer and failing human health caused by pesticides, pollution, etc.

The cellular natural world is somewhat akin to astrophysics on many levels--as far as accessibility to the average citizen, as far as what is not yet known about it-- and is pretty rich ground to simply invent findings (bend natural laws)and cover up damage with tobacco science to mesh with policy (normative laws), i.e., magic.

Popper writes, "Most of us, it seems, have a strong inclination to accept the peculiarities of our social environment as it they were 'natural'." And it looks like that inclination just got encouragement in the form of a boot in its back with the Royal Charter.

The philosophical analysis sound dry and less terrifying than it really is. A "closed society" to Popper is really nothing less than totalitarianism.

Jenny Allan

The Guardian weighs in:-
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/20/royal-charter-past-future-press-regulation
"The press regulation charter is illiterate about the internet
The Leveson-inspired draft bill deals with the past, not the future, of the press in failing to address the myriad ways we now receive 'news'"

Linda

Interesting that this very significant story is not in the news - anywhere. Did I miss it? Is any mainstream outlet covering this?

Jenny Allan

What a disgrace for democracy. This deal was 'cooked up' by four 'representatives' from 'Hacked off' including Evan Harris, and an assortment of Labour/ Liberal Democrat MPs, including Harriet Harman Labour deputy Leader, and Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Not ONE single senior Conservative Government Minister was in attendance, on a Sunday. The Prime Minister David Cameron preferred to watch his sons playing football. There were NO representatives from either the Press or the Public invited to this cosy 'stitch up'.

Hacked Off refused to state who or what funds them, but political parties must declare large party donations.

It seems the press is fighting back, with the Spectator refusing to sign up to the new 'Charter'. Other newpapers are expected to follow. The Daily Mail has led a campaign against statutory press regulation:-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2296098/Press-regulation-Cracks-start-just-day-newspapers-refuse-sign-up.html
"Backlash grows over press curbs: Cracks start to show after just one day as newspapers refuse to sign up."

Linda

I hate to say it, but this tactic was inevitable. No doubt, Britain is a testing ground for a more widespread initiative. The question is, what to do about it. It's our move.

Victor Pavlovic

We knew it was coming, these are the first steps in limiting free speech, so that they may use it against those and more like especially people exposing the MMr vaccine coverup. Of course the law is vague so that they may use it in any fashion that they wish. In the end, this type of censorship, will not promote readership, or trust and will only contribute to the detriment to society, by covering issues up until its to late.

Angus Files

Great work John China is looking liberal these days..

John Stone

Thanks John. Interesting that Moore began his political career with an apologia for political spin:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Origins-Modern-Spin-Democratic/dp/1403989567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363777427&sr=8-1#reader_1403989567

which is more or less a eulogy of the class that Orwell was parodying in 1984.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a21DMT62t0s&playnext=1&list=PL3E8DA31BA4481C1B&feature=results_main

John Heptonstall

Excellent report John.
We are witnessing creative attempts by people who, as many of us are aware, invariably lose battle after battle when their published opinions - largely rhetoric to avoid the necessity of producing hard evidence - are so easily deconstructed whether on autism, that major cause of autism, vaccination, or inalienable rights to free speech and democratic representation of facts, opinions and ideas.
Having lost their battles they seek like-minded incompetents to form organisations, invariably closed to freedom of speech and thought, such as Hacked off and Sense About Science appear to be, from where they launch unconvincing rhetoric through political allies.
The great shame for Britain, and the British, is that so much creativity seems wasted on designing ways and means to disseminate such unconvincing opinions, and to obfuscate issues and evade apology when they fail to convince, rather than on the creation of evidenced, convincing, socially beneficial argument.

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