We don’t just report off-beat news, breaking news and digest the best and worst of the news media analysis and commentary. We give an original take on what happened and why. We add lols, satire, news photos and original content.
Maya PlisetskayaI: ‘I would like to talk about Swan Lake and my handsome partners but it all revolves around Stalin’s terror’
“I would like to talk about ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘Swan Lake,’ about my battements and my handsome partners,” wrote ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, who has died at the age of 89. “But whichever way I look at my childhood, it all revolves around politics and Stalin’s terror.”
Her New York Times’ obituary tells us:
Her father was shot to death in 1938 in Stalin’s purges. (Ms. Plisetskaya learned the date of his death only in 1989.) Her mother was arrested and sent to a labor camp with her infant son, then exiled to Kazakhstan….
Ms. Plisetskaya was… restricted by the Bolshoi’s rigid Soviet guidelines on choreography, which viewed the very movement of dance through the prism of ideology, yet she was able to infuse stultified, literal movements with much deeper meaning….
“I danced all of classical ballet and dreamed of something new,” she said. “In my time, it was impossible.”
But it was a career that was far from plain sailing. She first sparked scandal in 1967 after a meeting in Moscow with Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso, who, as a citizen of a friendly communist country, was allowed to create for her the Carmen Suite.
“Carmen – where every gesture, every look, every movement had meaning, was different from all other ballets … The Soviet Union was not ready for this sort of choreography,” Plisetskaya said. “It was war, they accused me of betraying classical dance.”
Good news of the day features Funchu Tamang, a 101-year-old man rescued from the rubble of his collapsed housein Nepal. Amid the destruction and horror of the earthquake that hit Nepal, Mr Tamang’s rescue seven days later is a ray of hope.
He was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
(And for 101, he looks pretty great. Every report says he’s 101, so, he’s 101.)
Spotter: The Guardian
Daily Express: “Scots police put on spot in Janner probe”
One of the Labour peer’s alleged victims claims the MP took him on a tour of Scotland in the early 1970s during which he was subjected to serious sexual assaults. He made a report at an Edinburgh police station in 1991 but the Crown Office yesterday confirmed they have never been notified.
Where is this report?
It raises fears that Scottish officers may have been ordered to drop any investigation into the politician, like their counterparts south of the Border.
Westminster peados: a look at reporting on an alleged cover up of VIP child abuse.
Daily Mirror (page 10): “Retired Field Marshal In Child Sex Quiz”
We meet Field Marshal Lord Bramall of Bushfield. Lord Bramall is 91. He is one of the UK’s highest-ranking veterans. He is Field Marshal Edwin Noel Westby Bramall, Baron Bramall KG, GCB, OBE, MC, JP, DL.
Police probing claims that children were abused by a VIP paedophile ring in the 70s and 80s have quizzed a former head of the British Army. Field Marshal Lord Bramall of Bushfield, 91, was interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives as part of Operation Midland.
This is the unmanned Blue Origin suborbital spacecraft, New Shepard, which has soared 307,000 feet into the skies. Blue Origin is part-owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who, to the best of our knowledge, never has been pictured naked.
For more phallic pocket rockets, see Flashbak.
As Xeni Jardin says, “every single one of these is a gem”. Comment Is Weird is a parody of the Guardian’s Comment is Free. Just when you think something is beyond parody, someone goes and proves you wrong…
On 7th April 1980, John Downing photographed skinheads enjoying the bank holiday weekend in Southend, Essex.
Before the phots a short film from 1978 (via the excellent Flashbak):
As the New York Times reprots:
Six recovering substance abusers sat in an inner-city treatment center, sharing their stories. When Michael’s turn came around, he spoke of his former drug of choice, alcohol, and mentioned the night years ago when he drove drunk on the Massachusetts Turnpike, caused an accident and was arrested before passing out.
Michael then pulled out a picture of a friend’s brother who recently died from mixing prescription painkillers with alcohol. He described his grief and visceral connection with the struggles of substance abusers in recovery.
“You are my people,” he said, wiping one eye.
Catharsis is common in treatment centers, but Michael is not the typical former substance abuser: He is Michael Botticelli, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, informally known as the drug czar.
Behold the repenting spirit…
The Sun (Page 8): “Paedo probe judge to check Janner claims”
Claims of his innocence?
There is to be an…inquiry into why Lord Janner was never tried in court. An inquiry is the country’s default position for anything the elite want to moralise on. A “panel” will investigate “whether the 86-year-old Labour peeer was protected by an establishment cover-up”.
This way the elite get to bury the ghosts and no-one gets hurt. It is a State-serving affront to justice.
Daily Express (page 2): “Sex abuse inquiry will review allegations against Lord Janner”
Will it be as big as the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking and tabloid journalism? Will everyone who has ever known or worked with Janner be put on the stand? Will we see all the social workers, police and everyone who worked with Frank Beck, the LibDem councillor and convicted paedophile who ran children’s homes and lived in Braunstone, where Janner is titular Lord? Will it be televised? Will there be dawn raids and mass arrests?
“True to Darpa’s mission, Exacto has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-calibre bullet to target,” boats Darpa program manager Jerome Dunn. “This live-fire demonstration from a standard rifle showed that Exacto is able to hit moving and evading targets with extreme accuracy at sniper ranges unachievable with traditional rounds.”
What can go wrong?
Free Speech is under threat at Georgetown University. The college’s student magazine, The Hoya, wants to no-platform a woman they don’t approve of.
The Georgetown University College Republicans hosted Christina Hoff Sommers, an author and philosophy professor known for her criticism of contemporary feminism and her disavowal of a so-called “rape myth,” last week.
By giving Sommers a platform, GUCR has knowingly endorsed a harmful conversation on the serious topic of sexual assault.
Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem and condemns reputable studies for engaging in “statistical hijinks” serves only to trigger obstructive dialogue and impede the progress of the university’s commitment to providing increased resources to survivors.
Arguing the statistics will not be tolerated! Surely, the students are sure-footed enough to be able to counter any naysayers? Demanding Sommers be made to shut up is lamentably weak.
The Hoya’s editorial board continues:
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Madeleine McCann’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann have won £357,000 (Daily Telegraph) after successfully suing ex-police chief Goncalo Amaral. The former Portuguese policeman suggested in his book The Truth Of The Lie that the couple had faked their daughter’s abduction. That view was defamatory.
The McCanns’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, says:
“It was entirely focused on the effect of the libels on our other children and the damage that was done to the search for Madeleine.”
The McCanns, from Rothley in Leicestershire, said the claims exacerbated their anguish and discouraged people from coming forward with information after Madeleine disappeared… Mr Amaral, who initially headed the inquiry into Madeleine’s disappearance, was taken off the case in October 2007…. His book, published in 2008, has been a bestseller in Portugal.
The McCanns were originally seeking 1.25m euros (almost £900,000) in damages from Mr Amaral, his publisher and a company that produced a documentary based on his book. In a written verdict, a court in the Portugeuse capital Lisbon ruled Mr Amaral should pay Mr and Mrs McCann 250,000 euros each in damages, plus interest in excess of 100,000 euros (£71,500).
The court also barred Mr Amaral and his publisher from selling the book or issuing further editions. It also barred the producer of the film from selling the rights to broadcast or distribute it.
A former Portuguese detective has been ordered to pay 606,000 euros (£433,000) to the parents of missing Madeleine McCann as their two-year libel trial comes to an end…
A civil court in Lisbon ruled against Mr Amaral, and ordered him to pay 500,000 euros (£357,000) in damages and 106,000 euros (£76,000) in interest to the McCanns.
In a lengthy ruling on Tuesday, Amaral was found guilty of libelling the pair and ordered to pay them €250,000 (£179,170) each in damages, plus €106,000 (£76,000) in interest. The judge also banned further sale of his book, the Truth of the Lie.
The ruling comes days before the eighth anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance on Sunday. She vanished from her parents’ holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on the evening of Thursday 3 May 2007, triggering the biggest missing persons investigation for decades.
Such are the facts…
Would you give medial marijuana to your ill child if you thought it would help them? In Alabama, Mark Coleman wants to use marijuana to treat his 13-year-old daughter, Mary Ann Coleman. She has low-functioning autism.
Monday wasn’t a very good day for 13-year-old Mary Ann Coleman… The report sent home from Glenwood Autism & Behavioral Health Center where Mary Ann attends day school shows she tried to hurt herself 337 times Monday while at school or riding the bus, her father Mark Coleman said. That number has been as high as 800; a typical day though is about 40.
“(Mary Ann) scratches herself to the point where she bleeds,” he said. “She hits herself upside the ear. She pulls her hair out. She slams her head into the wall …. She has gone through my bay window. She had gone through two windows at school.”
Lord Janner is still in the news. The Labour peer, who won’t face the court for alleged child abuse because his dementia makes him unfit for trial, remains in the media’s crosshairs…
Today’s news round-up:
The Daily Mail: “Home Office chiefs ignored FOURTH warning on Janner: Officials were told of child sex claims in 1995 report”
This goes to the top. Who warned them? What did they warn about?
The Home Office was warned that Lord Janner was abusing young boys two decades ago but did nothing about it.
What should it have done? Surely the Home Office can only act if there is evidence…
An MP passed a dossier of information to the department in the hope it would kick-start a fresh police investigation. But instead the paperwork was shelved by officials until it was discovered in 2013 and belatedly passed to Leicestershire Police.
Which officials? Why didn’t the MP make copies and send them to the Press? As ever, we just get more questions in place of facts. It all stinks. But what’s making the smell?
Years later he went on a bender in Saigon and woke up the next day in a ditch outside a tropical city. Only when he had walked some way into it did he discover on inquiry that the city was Singapore. How he had got there was never explained.
Richard West, born July 18 1930, died April 25 2015.
Northern Ireland Health Minister Jim Wells has resigned? Why? Well, there was that comment her made, the one about gays and paedos:
“You don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That a child is far more likely to be abused and neglected….”
Ignorant balls, of course. But that’s not why Mr Wells has resigned. As he says:
“As many people are aware I have been focused on helping my wife during her fight for life. Those who know my family and I, know the last three months have been the toughest of our lives as we watched my wife, Grace, suffer two successive strokes and battle through major heart surgery. However, as she now faces further challenges I have come to the point where I am no longer able to continue my ministerial duties and give Grace the attention she deserves.”
Fair enough. But about his words linking child abuse and being gay… Well, on that he says:
“I accept that one line of what I said caused offence and deep concern. I regret having wrongly made that remark about abuse and I’m sorry those words were uttered. The comment did not reflect my view nor that of my party.”
Lord Janner: a look at reporting on the allegations of a Westminster peadophile cover-up.
The Daily Mail (page 10): “Janner’s thak you note to detective who was forced to drop case by bosses”
We hear from retired detective Kelvyn Ashby.
The policeman who led the original investigation into Janner in the early 1990s spoke yesterday of how he was ‘gutted’ after orders to drop the case came ‘from the very top’.
That’s 14 or 15 years of being “gutted”.
Retired Detective Inspector Kelvyn Ashby, of Leicestershire Police, said his team uncovered evidence supporting allegations that the then-Leicester MP used his home and a hotel to abuse a teenage boy. He said he and fellow investigator Mick Creedon, now Chief Constable of Derbyshire Police, were prevented from arresting Janner.
James Delingpole takes a look:
Over the weekend, you may have noticed, Katie Hopkins was trending on Twitter yet again – this time because of a piece she’d written in The Sun in which she’d upset the Offenderati by using the word “cockroaches” in the context of the boatloads of hapless, parched, pitiable migrants now fleeing Libya. At this point you’re obliged tactically to distance yourself from Hopkins by noting how distasteful you too find her appalling choice of words. But I’m not going to, for several reasons, the first being that that it was so devastatingly effective.
It is. It got attention.
Of course, referring to people as parasites is nothing new. After all former environment minister Michael Meacher:
“The lesson is that if we continue with activities which destroy our environment and undermine the conditions for our own survival, we are the virus.”
Meacher is the Labour MP For Oldham West & Royton. Hopkins is unelected.
Lord Greville Janner: a round-up of media reporting on the Labour peer mired in the story of Westminster peados.
Mail on Sunday: “Let’s hear Janner facts”
Now that the Crown Prosecution Service has admitted that Lord Janner could have been charged with serious sexual offences when he was fit to plead, calls for him to face a special hearing of the case against him in open court are, rightly, increasing.
He could have faced a trial if he had been ordered to years ago – back when historical sex abuse was not the hot story it is today. But he wasn’t. And coulds and ifs are not facts.
Peter Wanless, the head of the NSPCC, has added his powerful voice to the clamour for the allegations to be considered at a ‘trial of facts’ in which his accusers would be heard, though he would not need to take part, or face the risk of conviction.
Newspaper corection of the week: The Halesowen News’ story on Twig Fields and her newly-opened vintage clothing store The Walk-In Wardrobe in Cradley Heath, contained an error:
Jordan Henderson has penned a new five-year deal to play for Liverpool. Good news for Liverpool fans. And at £100,0o0-a-week, it’s good news for Henderson, who will just be able to afford a season ticket at top-flight boxing. (Tickets for the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao’s fight are yours for £100,000 each. It makes £60 to watch your team play Arsenal at the Emirates look like a steal.)
Writing in the Times, Giles Smith wonders if Henderson is going to re-sign for another of his clients: Nivea.
…a deal that has already yielded comedy gold. Indeed, if there was a Bafta for Best Look To Camera By A Footballer In A Narrative-Based Commercial (and now there should be), Henderson would have swept it away for a lifetime.
It is a cracker:
But what does it all mean for men? It’s the decline of man: the steady emasculation of our role models.
Lord Janner: a look at reporting on the Labout peer in the news.
The Sun: “CRONY PROSECUTOR”
DPP worked at same firm as peado rap Lord she let off
It’s about Ms Alison Saunders, the head of the Crown Prosection service. The Sun says she “started her career” at 1 Garden Court Chamebers – where Janner…was a top QC.”
Thsi is an “exclusive”. Well, it is to anyone who has never read the Saunders CV or other news sources days ago.
The upper echelons of the judiciary are incestuous places.
Daily Telegraph: “CPS chief’s husbands is member of ‘tax loophole’ film investment scheme”
The knives are out for Director of Public Prosecutions boss Saunders.
Neil Saunders, whose wife is the Director of Public Prosecutions, is a member of a controversial scheme being investigated by the taxman, The Telegraph can disclose.
A lecture from the Daily Telegraph on the wrongs of legally exploiting tax loopholes might make you roll your eyes, but is it valid?
Neil Saunders, a defence barrister, is listed by Companies House as a member of a film industry investment scheme which is being pursued by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
How are the husband’s tax affairs relevant to Sauncders’ decicion not to send Janner to court? We’re not told. It’s just out there. As are these facts:
• DPP Alison Saunders took legal advice on Greville Janner from former colleague of his son
• DPP Alison Saunders spent £7,000 on business class flights while CPS headed towards crisis
The Press Gazette: “‘Eight officers stormed into my bedroom shouting Met Police': Reporter’s three-year ordeal ‘for writing story about a fox'”
As well as looking at what cases Saunders did not think fit for court, it’s worth looking what what cases she has approved.
The Sun’s online news editor Vince Soodin has has condemned the Met Police for turning Operation Elveden into “a probe into unauthorised leaks to journalists – whether they were paid for or not”.
Soodin, along with former News of the World reporter Lucy Panton, was officially cleared at the Old Bailey yesterday – nearly three years after his initial arrest.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, Soodin, 40, said Operation Elveden has been “pursued without any sense of proportion” by the Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe and Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders – who he said “must resign”.
On his 7 August 2012 arrest, Soodin wrote: “I was set to go the London Olympics; instead I was woken – at 6.06am – by my doorbell. I was confronted by eight police officers; detectives stormed past me into my bedroom, waking my girlfriend, who was unaware I had gone to the front door, shouting ‘Met Police’ before I was allowed to explain to her what was happening. We were in shock.
“Officers bagged up our computers. Seized our belongings. They went through our clothes and underwear, personal diaries, everything. Almost anything connected to my job was tagged and taken. They still have my Sun contract of employment – as though this is damning evidence that I am a criminal.
“Detectives stood over us as we dressed. Then I was taken away from my girlfriend and thrown into a cell at a north London police station before being questioned by two detectives.”
Snodin then nails Saunders.
“Set alongside the Lord Janner scandal and February’s ludicrous prosecution of a doctor – on charges of female genital mutilation – who had stitched up a woman bleeding after childbirth, Operation Elveden has destroyed confidence in the Crown Prosecution Service under Alison Saunders. There is only one proper course of action now. She must resign.”
The FGM show trial was a disaster for the CPS. It was a victory for the jury which found Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena not guilty of carrying out female genital mutilation on a newly delivered young mother. Another man was cleared of abetting Dr Dharmasena. Both men was used to showcase the authorities’ commitment to combatting FGM.
But what of calling for someone to lose their job? Is that fair?
The Indepedent: “Lord Janner: How the Director of Public Prosecutions should have handled the Labour peer”
What most angers her critics is that after taking the trouble to consult widely on the decision, Saunders has chosen to deny Janner’s alleged victims any chance of having their day in court.
What angers her critics is that Saunders came to the conclusion they didn’t want.
Lord Janner’s mental capacity – he is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s – is not in question.
It is the question. It is very much the question. And many have sought to answer it. If Lord Janner was well, he would be charged with 14 indecent assaults on a male under 16 between 1969 and 1988; two indecent assaults between 1984 and 1988; four counts of buggery of a male under 16 between 1972 and 1987; and two counts of buggery between 1977 and 1988.
…she seemed to perfectly understand what is at stake by deciding not to prosecute. Saunders explained: “There has been considerable public interest, and media coverage, of the fact of the investigations including identifying Lord Janner as the subject of them. Indeed, concern has been expressed publicly of a cover-up.”
And she went on: “The allegations that have been made against Lord Janner are extremely serious. Those who have made them are, entirely understandably, vociferous in urging the taking of action against Lord Janner.”
But what Saunders woefully failed to address was the possibility of a trial on the facts alone, so that the victims would at least have their allegations tested in a court of law. It would have required Lord Janner to be charged and then for the judge to officially rule that, although he was unfit to plead, a jury could still hear the issues.
The critics have also referred to cases under the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 where a criminal court does decide the truth of allegations against a person suffering from a mental incapacity. But, as confirmed by the Court of Appeal in a judgment, R v Wells, in January, such cases are heard, despite the mental incapacity, because consideration is being given to imposing a hospital order or a supervision order on the defendant for reasons of public protection, or because treatment is required, and it is in the defendant’s interest that the facts are found before such an intrusive order is made. In the present case, and as the DPP has explained, the medical evidence is again unequivocal that Lord Janner poses no current threat to anyone.
Of course the decision is disappointing to the complainants. But the criminal process does not exist to give a platform for the making of allegations against a defendant who is incapable of defending himself. The gravity of the allegations makes it especially appropriate to protect such a defendant from unfairness, particularly when he denied the allegations in the past while able to do so.
The Indy goes on:
This would have been highly unusual, and may have broken new legal ground, but this is a highly unusual case in which the police and CPS have failed three times to do their job.
Saunders’ inability to anticipate the political backlash left her badly exposed.
So. Justice should be dictated by fear of the public mood?
Sir Clive Loader, Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, described the decision as ‘not just wrong’ but ‘wholly perverse’ and ‘contrary to any notion of natural justice’.
The police are now on the side of the angels.
Daily Mail: “The rape of justice: Damning new evidence of Labour peer Lord Janner’s child sex abuse covered up by police and social workers for over 20 years”
Police and social workers were told more than 20 years ago that the peer took a vulnerable boy to Labour Party offices and Parliament before molesting him in his marital bed.
What did the caring. child-friendly police do back then?
A ten-page witness statement details the alleged victim’s harrowing ordeal at the hands of Janner. But all references to the politician were removed from the child’s social services file, according to legal papers obtained by the Mail.
A children’s home manager told bosses she feared he was having sex with the child but her concerns were ‘swept under the carpet’. The scale of the cover-up helps explains how the former Labour MP repeatedly escaped justice.
Over to Guy Adams, who dramatises the story:
The middle of the night at a large family home in one of North London’s most genteel residential neighbourhoods. In one of the upstairs bedrooms, a teenage boy lies awake. It’s eerily quiet, and he’s a long, long way from the children’s institution that has in recent years been home. The house is dark and shadowy. Scary, even. He feels frightened, confused and very much alone.
But this boy is not alone. In the gloom, he picks out an unmistakable figure shuffling across the carpet. It’s the middle-aged father-of-three who owns this house where he is staying…
With sickening inevitability, this vulnerable and frightened child, who only recently reached his 14th birthday, is then subjected to a sexual assault. ‘He touched my penis and asked me to touch his. He then simulated sex with me as I could feel his penis rubbing against my body, but after a while he got up from the bed and went out of the room. I must have fallen asleep, because when I awoke it was morning.’
This attack, carried out in December 1974, is one of several described in chilling detail in a ten-page witness statement prepared several years later by a firm of Leicester solicitors called Greene D’Sa. According to the document, which was passed to me this week, it marked the start of an abusive ‘full sexual relationship’ that endured almost two years.
The attack was also the culination of a lengthy grooming process which had begun when the boy’s abuser, a high-profile MP, visited a secondary school in his Leicester constituency. That MP was Greville Janner, then 46, a Labour backbencher…
Titilated? The story then alleges who knew of Janner and the boy:
It tells how his relationship with Janner was known to everyone, from his friends, to his social worker, children’s home manager and the then-director of Leicester’s social services. Yet nothing was done to stop it….
In a second, 1993 witness statement, again passed to me this week, the same boy recalls in 1989 and 1991 meeting detectives investigating a historic paedophile ring said to have included Janner. The relatively junior police investigators were apparently convinced that this man had, indeed, been ‘buggered by Greville Janner’ during childhood. ‘They needed me to include that information in my statement before they could arrest Janner,’ it notes.
But, soon afterwards, the two junior detectives were forced to drop their investigation into the MP, apparently at the behest of senior figures within the Leicestershire constabulary.
The boy isn’t the only person to make this claim. Indeed, his 1993 statement appears to confirm a similar version of events made public last year by one of those two officers, Mick Creedon.
Should you wonder about the veracity of Mr Creedon’s recollection, it is illuminating to learn that he is now Chief Constable of Derbyshire.
Mr Creedon deneis any wrong doing. Lord Grevillw Jannwr and his family deny any wrongdoing.
Right now all we have are stories.
Leicester Mercury: “Alleged child sexual abuse victim will seek review of decision not to prosecute Greville Janner”
A man who alleges he was sexually abused by former Leicester MP Greville Janner says he will seek a review of the decision not to put the politician on trial. Paul Miller claims 86-year-old Lord Janner abused him when he was nine years old during a school trip to the House of Commons.
Mr Miller, 52, from Aylestone, said he had not yet received her letter, but would both seek a review and take up the offer to meet Ms Saunders…
He said: “I will meet her, but she had better pin her ears back because I am an angry man. I will tell her face to face she has got this wrong, and I will be asking for the review. I don’t think I will be the only one.”
Ms Saunders has stood by her decision not to try Lord Janner, despite saying there was enough evidence to bring charges against him in relation to 22 alleged offences between 1969 and 1998.
She said there was evidence that could have seen him charged in 1991, 2002 and 2007, but now he was suffering from dementia so severe he was unfit to stand trial.
Such are the facts…
Beyond parody with Katie Hopkins: Royal UN Offical tells British media that free speech has its limits
Katie Hopkins compares migrants to ‘cockroaches in her outrageous-to-deadline Sun newspaper column. And the UN high commissioner for human rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan, says:
“The Nazi media described people their masters wanted to eliminate as rats and cockroaches. This type of language is clearly inflammatory and unacceptable, especially in a national newspaper. The Sun’s editors took an editorial decision to publish this article, and – if it is found in breach of the law – should be held responsible along with the author.”
And on he went:
“This vicious verbal assault on migrants and asylum seekers in the UK tabloid press has continued unchallenged under the law for far too long. I am an unswerving advocate of freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but it is not absolute.”
But me no buts. You cannot be unswerving in support of free speech and then say it has limits.
“The commissioner also accused the Daily Express of seeking to whip up anti-foreigner prejudice. To give just one glimpse of the scale of the problem, back in 2003 the Daily Express ran 22 negative front pages stories about asylum seekers and refugees in a single 31-day period…. Asylum seekers and migrants have, day after day, for years on end, been linked to rape, murder, diseases such as HIV and TB, theft, and almost every conceivable crime and misdemeanour imaginable in front-page articles and two-page spreads, in cartoons, editorials, even on the sports pages of almost all the UK’s national tabloid newspapers. History has shown us time and again the dangers of demonising foreigners and minorities, and it is extraordinary and deeply shameful to see these types of tactics being used in a variety of countries, simply because racism and xenophobia are so easy to arouse in order to win votes or sell newspapers.”
So sayeth the UN about free speech and its limits. Current members of the UN Human Rights Council include, for example, such bastions of equality and free speech as Saudi Arabia and Gabon, where the state-run media regulatory agency, the National Communications Council, suspended three newspapers in 2013, one of them a satirical work.