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.
Reading the Times newspaper yesterday, I was somewhat gobsmacked to see Sean O’Neill, the paper’s chief reporter, complaining that “The UK has no constitutional protection for a free press and no real cap on costs for libel actions.” These two facts formed the centrepiece of his argument that abuse of British courts is killing free speech. But, after years of campaigning against these protections, is the Times now regretting its success?
Yesterday, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps led the daily Downing Street press conference with news of new transport infrastructure to help us in the current crisis and beyond. But the mainstream media used up all of their questions to ask about the decision by the Prime Minister’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, to isolate himself and his family in Durham, rather than in London, when his wife fell ill with Covid-19.Read more
A few weeks ago, I spoke at an international conference on regulation. One of my fellow panellists told me, as we took our seats, that he was against regulation. I rubbed my hands with glee in anticipation that sparks would soon begin to fly. Sadly, the only sparks were the evidence of us getting on like a house on fire. He wasn’t against regulation; it was just bad regulation that he couldn’t tolerate. Me too.Read more
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
I was disappointed to read recently that the UK has dropped to 40th place in the World Press Freedom Index. Among the 39 countries which are said to offer the press greater freedom than the UK are South Africa, Surinam and Namibia, according to the ranking body Reporters Sans Frontieres. But then I noticed that the UK’s ranking was three places ahead of the USA which guarantees freedom of the press under its constitution. What’s going on here?Read more