We at “The Voice” were invited to meet the Scrutiny Chairmen’s Committee last week to discuss some of the practical absurdities of the current restrictions - like the 3 day permission to video rule - imposed on us.
Of course, we know that the in-built prejudice and hostility towards bloggers of Committee Members like Deputy Phil Rondel and Senator Sarah Ferguson cannot be countered by reasoned discussion, but we did our best in the little time allowed. And this was especially difficult when these 2 wanted to have an argument about much wider issues then those we were complaining of. Sarah was even protesting that Deputy Dawg was not her son!!!! Nothing to do with us surely!! (We advised her to publish a disclaimer on the blogs – but she was flying around the room spitting fire by then.)
Before our part of the meeting took place it was amusing to witness the Committee discussing the merits of the “Isle” freebie “newspaper” which they said ex Senator Mike Vibert, Peter Troy and Deputy Paul Le Claire are involved in. This latest publication was apparently seeking paid adverts from the Committee claiming a monthly circulation of 20,000 copies. With advertising rates of £900 per page the Committee were trying to decide if it was worth 4 ½ p per reader yet nobody even asked if the publication was to be considered as “accredited” or a genuine newspaper at all and here they were considering spending public money on it!!
The same Committee has been considering adverts in Parish magazines too in a desperate effort to let the public know more about Scrutiny activities yet here we are pleading to be allowed to video their meetings and to stimulate discussion on our blogs – at absolutely no public cost - and they are performing cartwheels to prevent us!!!!!
But the Committee is obsessed with the objective of controlling bloggers and kept returning to “accountability” and how the “accredited media” is supposedly answerable for any falsehoods published etc but bloggers are not. It’s such a pity that our so called elected representatives don’t even bother to discover the facts.
Like for example Don Mitchell CBE, QC the blogger behind the excellent “Corruption Free Anguilla” blog. He is a very experienced lawyer and we believe still teaches in Anguilla (and has a Jersey wife) yet he was successfully sued for some comments he made and had to pay substantial damages. So anybody can make mistakes and we are ALL answerable for what we publish.
And now the “Vox” weekly newspaper and website in Gibraltar is before the courts facing a £50,000 libel action because of a story published about the Rock’s very own HDLG scandal at the Giraldi Childrens Home.
So far the Gib Judge has refused to order the withdrawal of the printed The Vox saying;
“In any democratic society which values freedom of speech the recalling of a newspaper must be seen as something of a last resort”
But some material on the “Vox” Website has been removed because it offers comments on the libel action and might prejudice the eventual jury trial, if and when it ever takes place.
Anybody interested in such matters is urged to link to “Vox” and study what is going on there although we know that the dangerous people in our government with the power to legislate would rather impose restrictions than encourage public freedoms.
Fortunately, the Committee has withdrawn the absurd Proposition 112 to restrict bloggers but they will be back with even more repressive proposals soon.
We are told that there will be a full consultation process before the latest crazy proposition is lodged – but we were promised that before 112 and it never did take place.
We at “The Voice” will continue to monitor and lobby any developments as best as we can but ALL people concerned for freedom of expression must do their bit too. It is essential to attend as many so called “public” meetings as possible and to report on and expose the absurd processes of our governments, courts and tribunals.
Anybody who saw Terry Le Sueur, more like the Archie Andrews “dummy” than our Chief Minister - with absolutely nothing to say or contribute before Graham Power’s recent Complaints Board Hearing – will have realised that SS Jersey is already embarked on the final voyage.
Submitted by Thomas Wellard
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