As a society, we are so used to the idea that freedom of speech is a fundamental right that we tend to forget that it is also fundamental to a well-run society that some jobs are reserved to people who voluntarily surrender their right to speak on specific topics. Well-known examples include judges, civil servants and, er, BBC football presenters. As a result, the UK’s news agenda was recently dominated by a contest in which both sides turned in a poor performance.
Tag: Human Rights
It’s that man again – both of them
Pannick in Downing Street as Boris faces contempt charge
Blow me down with a feather. Boris Johnson and Lord Pannick QC have teamed up in a way, and at a time, that I didn’t see coming. Perhaps no one did! It would be more than I could bear not to weigh in on the subject of this unexpected coupling. I don’t think you should blame me for doing so. I hope that some of you might even welcome it.
The “best interests” principle
The heartbroken parents of Archie Battersbee believe they have been denied their rights. A lawyer would say that, having had their case looked at by a bench full of judges – all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court (twice) – their rights have been fully protected. But perhaps that is to miss the point. Archie’s parents (presumably) believe that it is the law itself that is at fault, not the decisions handed down in their case.
Is this what we want from the police?
Reading reports from the BBC, Sky News or the Guardian, one could be forgiven for thinking that the judges had ruled that the police should have allowed the vigil for Sarah Everard to go ahead. They did not.
The judges decided only that, in arriving at their decision, assorted officers at varying levels of seniority messed up in different ways over several days. The court very deliberately stopped short of saying whether a correct analysis would have resulted in a different decision. That would, I think, have required the court to hear expert evidence from doctors, epidemiologists and mathematical modellers before applying its own jurisprudential expertise.
Far better, the court decided, that such matters be left to Scotland Yard on a Thursday afternoon before the Saturday evening vigil.
Enemies of the Press?
The Daily Mail is at it again. In 2016, they famously labelled three Court of Appeal judges as “Enemies of the People” for ruling that an important decision had to be referred to Parliament. Today, they accuse three (different) Appeal judges of unleashing “a dark day for truth and free expression” by undermining “the right to rigorously test in court the evidence in any given case” – a right which “has, over the centuries, become one of the cornerstones of a civilised society.”
Is Covid-19 making us irrational?
I don’t want to start a panic, but I do wonder whether Covid is making people less able to think properly. I’m not talking about those poor individuals who have actually had the disease. I’m talking about (almost) everyone.
Should social media regulation be aiming at a different goal?
This weekend, the professional football community in the UK will boycott social media. The “gesture”, initiated by the anti-racism charity, Kick It Out, and others, is a call to “those with power [within social media] … to do more and to act faster … to make their platforms a hostile environment for trolls”. At the time of writing, British rugby and British cricket has announced that they will join the boycott.
I wish them all luck. Something is needed to deliver major change.
A good place to start might be improved clarity around the nature of social media and the responsibility its providers take for the words and images that appear on their forums. At the moment, much of the thinking is confused and confusing.Read more
I’m partial to a bit of Beeb
On a day when I am learning it may be OK to eat red meat after all, I’m also having to re-think my attitude to the BBC.Read more
We disagree … so you must be lying?
From working as an independent expert witness, I know only too well that it is not unusual to find one’s client acting as though nothing the opposing party says can ever be believed. As a mediator, I have seen this attitude taken by both sides simultaneously. Sometimes in a dispute, both sides are inveterate liars. But quite often I would see two parties who were both incapable of seeing that their opponent’s point of view was not built (entirely) on falsehood. It seems that is where we are now with Brexit.Read more
A couple of matters caught my attention this morning, from the world of journalism and coffee shops.Read more