Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Press and Freedom of speech

On Wednesday, as I hopped channels and trying to absorb the unfolding situation I came across Kay Burley on Sky news asking, what I thought was a fairly stupid question.

"Does this all mean an end to investigative journalism?"

Then I saw comments on the Twittersphere and blogs about government attacks on free speech and press or of the government waging war on the press.

When one reads of government interference and control of the press images of Goebbels or a Soviet commissar reviewing and censoring every report.
I cannot believe that any government that we are a part of, or indeed in the UK would ever, outside of a state of war/emergency, control the press.

Gordon Brown stated on Wednesday in his speech to the house;

"With the exceptions on peace and war, there is no matter of greater importance than the basic liberties of our citizens."

It is the liberties of the individuals - You, I, Ryan Giggs, Nick Clegg, Milly Dowler etc...etc

Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and a key belief of our party but then so are others freedoms. The basis of law is that the individual is allowed to carry out any action unless it causes offence to sensibilities or restricts the freedom of another individual(s) causes damage to the state.
This is why you are free to say what you like UNLESS it is prejudice or incites hatred or violence.
I, the individual am also free to act as I please in my own home and personal life as I see fit, again as long as I do not interfere with another individuals rights or freedoms.

The business at News corp has indeed crossed the lines, driven to get the next best story or gossip some journalists have soared where even the police fear to tread and engaging, as Mr Brown said, engaged  in "Law breaking often on an industrial scale."
This is indeed true. They have been invading Your liberty, or the Liberty and freedom of individuals to sell news papers and to dig dirt. Even worse they targeted a thirteen year old murder victim and then even deleted some of the messages which not only means the family think Milly Dowler was alive but also perverts the course of justice.
Other possible victims include families of servicemen lost in Afghanistan, September 11th, or even the 07/07 victims. For what reason though? To spice up a story further?

I'm not saying that investigative journalism should be stopped but there should be limits to what is done, such as attacking an individuals freedoms. Indeed investigative journalism has done amazing things and turned up very important stories that have had major ramifications in the world of politics and even in life in general. In recent times nothing more poignant has been turned up than the Westminster "expenses scandal."
It must continue and the press must be free to write and print what they want as long as it doesn't affect the individuals rights and liberties.

The next issue is the bribing of Police officers for information. I understand that sometimes the Police and Press do discuss matters for mutual benefit however the paying for information is straight up corruption and BOTH parties are guilty. A full investigation must be carried out to discover the depths of corruption with in the Police force, they are not above the law only the enforcers.

David Cameron was right to say that the press needs to be regulated by an independent body, like Offcom does for television. The media has to be reminded that they cannot break the law and are not above it.
These allegations against News international do show that criminal law has been broken and that the Police, whilst having a long look at themselves, need to investigate thoroughly.

Why Rebekah Brooks had to go.

It may be argued that she has become a scapegoat along with Andy Coulson and that as Editor in chief she had nothing to do with or knowledge of any wrong doing.

This is irrelevant. The Head of department is always responsible for the actions of their employees be it good or bad. German Field marshals were executed for the misconduct of some of their men whether they knew about it or not because they were their commanders and thus responsible.

Her willingness to lead the investigation could have been a genuine drive to save the company she loved and root out any wrong doing. However, as she was implicated in the crimes it would be massively hypocritical or even that she was destroying any evidence of any wrong doing by herself. It would be like asking Bruce Ismay to look into the Titanic disaster.

Her willingness to "Stay on the bridge" would only be noted as self serving. Ex News of the world employees were already touting the idea that they had been sacrificed to save her, it looked like Rupert Murdoch was willing to sever a limb of the company to save her and bury the evidence.
She had to accept full responsibility and resign and to rid any further investigation of a taint of unfairness.

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