June 16th, 2009

From all angles

Posted in Blogging by 200

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!

more info here, here & here

footnote:

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?)

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9 comments

  1. Civ_In_The_City says:

    I think it`s a shame that Nightjack has had to shut up shop because of this. I`m not a regular reader of his, no bloody choice now of course, but I picked up a few of his last blogs and was impressed with the quality, hopefully he will continue in future. Or write book.

    I disagree that blogging being a public activity means that bloggers can be outed. Are we to see another attack on all our privacy such that we aren`t allowed to use our own individual blog names?

    Nightjack isn`t an government minister trying to convince us to go to war. He`s not a doctor claiming to have a cure for cancer. He, like most police bloggers, starts off a thread with an opinion and all the other contributors offer their own perspectives and opinions in response.

    There might be grounds for a slap on the wrist for not disguising real cases well enough (if there was any doubt about the cases before then identifying him and his force will have cleared it up nicely for everyone).

    It seems a slap is all he`s been given by his employer, and I think this is a fair and proportianate response.

    It`s highlighted the double-standards and mercenary attitude of ‘Justice’ Eady hasn`t it? I don`t think he`s done any of us any favours with his decision to make Nightjacks identity public.

    A sad day, and a poor decision.

    June 16th, 2009 at 18:33

  2. Ian says:

    This is what happens when old fogies are aloud to stay on the bench. I won’t be surprised to find out that he will be standing for parliament next . He sound just the type that would be looking to fiddling his expenses

    June 16th, 2009 at 20:26

  3. Tony F says:

    I heard this on the radio news too. PC Pratt, of course was not mentioned. He ONLY Died doing his duty. NJ on the other hand has been very circumspect and erudite about certain failings, shall we say.

    For what it’s worth, as a MOP, NJ’s blog was excellent. It certainly filled in many blanks for me, and with a fair and honourable outlook.

    Honour/honourable, for those in ‘senior management’ is when you do things that are right, take RESPONSIBILITY for your actions and those that you are supposed to be leading….I’m wasting my time aren’t I?

    June 16th, 2009 at 21:37

  4. MarkUK says:

    I’m disgusted with The Times. This august organ would never have stooped to this kind of behaviour in pre-Murdoch days.

    It is doubly hypocritical as newspapers, including The Times, regularly use bloggers as a source.

    I am seriously considering cancelling my subscription to the paper. I’ve commented on their website and I feel a letter coming on – they won’t publish it though.

    June 16th, 2009 at 21:54

  5. Oi says:

    Hopefully NJ is still reading Police blogs and comes across this.

    To him, I would like to say that he has my admiration [as do you all, of course] and my best wishes.
    Its a great shame when small and petty minded midgets are able to pull down someone of more stature then they could ever hope to be and silence him.

    June 16th, 2009 at 23:58

  6. bill says:

    Well, that’s the last time I read a novel.

    Unless I am 100% assured that the author is indeed, who they say they are, and not assuming a “nomme de plume”.

    Justice has been seen to be done, I say.

    Once again, the law courts have protected us, the public, from the ugly truth.

    Hurrah!

    June 17th, 2009 at 00:46

  7. bill says:

    In the interests of transparency, it should be noted that my previous (and really silly) comment was co-authored by me (2%) and Johnnie Walker (98%).

    Blame my wife, it was her birthday…

    June 17th, 2009 at 10:48

  8. Boy on a bike says:

    Night Jack may be gone, but he won’t be forgotten.

    June 17th, 2009 at 11:05

  9. Fee says:

    I was a regular reader of Nightjack – and if it wouldn’t likely cost him his job and pension, I’d suggest a case against his force on “freedom of speech” grounds. Didn’t we fight a couple of wars for the right to our own opinions? Don’t we all have an equal right to say what we think, regardless of who agrees? Surely, as police officers are also citizens, they can’t be told what to think?

    Sorry, silly moment over. I’ll go and lie down in a dark room until these awful, liberated thoughts go away again. Might nick some of bill’s Johnnie Walker …

    June 17th, 2009 at 12:33

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