'Small Victory', by Faith No More. We had a small victory today, here in the blogosphere. You may have heard about it.
Trafigura, the oil company that dumped toxic waste poisoning at least 31,000 Ivorian citizens and then tried to cover it up, tried to injunct the Guardian newspaper to prevent them reporting a question asked about the matter in Parliament. This was a gross abuse of Britain's unwritten constitution, which has long held that matters arising in the House may be reported without fear of censure. Bloggers and users of Twitter in the UK and elsewhere went ballistic at this, blogged, tweeted, retweeted and generally spammed the info all over the shop, to the point where Trafigura and their solicitors, Carter Ruck, decided to drop the injunction. Yay for us.
Problems, however, remain. The traditional media in the UK is still not allowed to reveal details of The Minton Report, available here via WikiLeaks, a report commissioned by Trafigura which the company is very keen to suppress. Trafigura have also still instructed Carter Ruck to sue the BBC regarding their own investigative reporting into the event.
We're at the end of The Two Towers here basically. The Twitterers have ridden in like the Rohirrim, and won the battle of King's Place, but there's still some way to go before we get picked up by the eagles and can get back down to some lazy Hobbit-style lovin'. The BBC is the Minas Tirith in this scenario (of course it is, it's HQ is in White City!), and Carter Ruck's libel action is, oh I don't know. The Witch-King of Angmar, or that ugly Orc bastard with the gimpy arm who spends the entire film being scary as fuck and then gets seen off by Viggo Mortensen in like half a second, the point is this is important.
Fortunately there are things we can do. First of all, link to the Minton report and get it out as many places as you can. Tweet it, blog it, spam it all about the place. That's what I'm doing here. I'm under no illusions that the eyes of the world are on this blog, but if I post the link to the report here, that's one more place the link is up and one more reason why Carter Ruck's gag should look pointless in the eyes of even the most blinkered High Court Judge.
If you're in London, join the Flashmob outside Carter Ruck's offices on Thursday. If you aren't, email Carter Ruck a photo of yourself, gagged, to show that you're with the protesters: their e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org . There's a petition to enshrine press freedom to report proceedings in the house in law at the Number 10 website. And you can write to your MP to ask them to stop corporations gagging the media at 38 Degrees.
I've done all of these things, and I'd like those of you reading this blog to do them too. To switch cinematic references, there is something terribly wrong with this country: the abuse of the libel courts to suppress freedom of speech and prevent the public learning the truth about what our new corporate overlords are up to. This has been growing for a while now, and it's finally time to act, to say enough! and stand up for the right of the people to know what's going on without having to fight tooth and nail (well, tweet and blog anyway) to find out.