Worrying Times for bloggers everywhere, especially police bloggers.
The Times have won a case at the High court against police blogger Nightjack who tried to prevent the paper revealing his identity. The High Court rejected the bloggers assertion that his anonymity should be preserved in the public interest.
Mr Justice Eady refused his injunction against the Times ruling that blogging was “essentially a public rather than a private activity”. The judge said that the officer was keen to preserve his anonymity because he knew he would be subject to internal discipline & had talked about cases which could, in theory, be traced and that he had criticised senior officer, police procedures & government ministers.
The judge went on to say that the public were entitled to know the identity of a police officer who opined in such a public way so they could make their minds up as to the veracity of the information given in the blog. Clearly, this includes the right of the world to see his picture as the Time have published the officer’s photo.
Nightjack has received a written warning from his force & his blog has now been completely removed.
It seems to me that the press are happy to publish stories from police bloggers & other anonymous sources in order to assist in extra profits for their shareholders but quite happy to stab them in the back when it suits them.
I wonder how many will be willing to reveal the sources of other information they get on a daily basis. Surely the public are entitled to know the source of any story published by the press so they can come to their own conclusions about what importance to place on a scoop or why such information was being published?
The press being a bunch of two-faced hypocrites? Surely not!
Mr Justice Eady has spent much of his lawyering trying to protect the privacy of his clients. He has been quoted as saying that his own privacy is ‘sacrosanct’ & has done much recently to protect the privacy of celebrities against the press. In 2008 the Telegraph said of him “He guards his personal life with such jealousy that his Who’s Who entry contains no details of any hobbies or interests, and few of his neighbours appear to have any idea who he is.” He has made many rulings against national newspapers preferring to protect the privacy of the individual. Which is all rather ironic considering he spent time, as a barrister, in the 1990s representing newspapers accused of hurting the feelings of celebrities.
The juxtaposition between representing those seeking to publicise ‘private’ information and ruling against those same people was expalined by the fact that in the former cases he was acting as a paid advocate (i.e. it was his job) whereas now he is excercising his personal beliefs & the Human Rights Act (Right to privacy), which doesn’t exist if you are a police officer criticising practices & policies which the average person on the Clapham Omnibus would agree should be released to the wider world. (or have I got this all wrong?)