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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Whither Nadine Dorries?

I have never had much time for Nadine Dorries. Frankly, I thought her recent claims that MPs were being pushed to breaking point by the “torture” of having their expenses claims made public were just ludicrous.

She went on to say that MPs were justified in their use of the accomodation allowance because officials from the Commons fees office had told them it was theirs to do with as they wished. “MPs were told to use that money because it wasn’t expenses, it was an allowance in lieu of not having pay rises,” she said. She has also accused The Telegraph of launching “McCarthy­ite witch hunts” against MPs. It is little wonder that David Cameron has been keen to distance himself and his party from her.

On her blog she has gone on to make unproven allegations against the paper's proprietors. As Dizzy reports the upshot of this is that Lawyers acting for the Barclay brothers, Withers, instructed hosts, Acidity via mail last night that the blog be taken down, citing the Acceptable User Policy. He says that the takedown will be bolstered by the Godfrey vs Demon precedent, where an order can be made and it will be done instantly.

Dizzy also notes that the day after Ms Dorries' blog gets taken down by lawyers this morning's Telegraph carries what he describes as a gushing piece about UKIP. To be fair to the Telegraph they have not shirked from mentioning the elephant in the room for Nigel Farage's party:

Ukip may be seeking capitalise on the expenses imbroglio, but its record in this area is hardly spotless. Two of its MEPs became mired in scandal almost immediately after their election. Ashley Mote was expelled from the party and was later jailed for benefit fraud – he plans to appeal the verdict – while Tom Wise is facing prosecution for alleged false accounting and money laundering relating to his EU expenses. He denies the charges.

Ukip's detractors say the party exercises double standards in using its MEPs' expenses, which dwarf those available in Westminster, to fund anti-EU activity.

The paper's actions in taking down Nadine Dorries' blog cannot be justified in my view. I may disagree with what she has to say but she has the right to say it and for a newspaper, of all institutions, to suppress her freedom of speech in this way is indefensible.

If she has libelled them then they have the right to sue her. Instead they have resorted to the methods of the corporate bully. What then is their agenda? One consequence of the Telegraph's actions is that they will unite those who value democratic freedoms against them.
While I think its good that politicians corruption is out in the open, the fact that the newspaper wasn't under criminal investigation for their actions makes them think they are all powerful and have carte blance to do what the hell they like.

This exposes one of the down-sides to blogging. If you make an accusation in the press, then someone has to bring a big expensive legal battle to counter it - you can't delete a million newspapers. If you make an accusation on a blog, it only takes an email to the host threatening legal action and its gone. (Or, in the case on Indymedia, the police just turn up and take your server).

YES we need freedom of information, and YES we need freedom of the press, BUT that needs to apply to blogging as much as it does the commercial press. If she was making libellous comments, then handle it in court, the same as any other medium.
This is why I blog on Dreamwidth, because Dreamwidth would have turned around to the Torygraph and told them to F off in that situation.
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