Marc Wadsworth - The-Latest - EXCLUSIVE
Britain’s most notorious libel lawyers have succeeded in banning a top UK newspaper from reporting a parliamentary question both they and the government find extremely embarrassing. But here The-Latest prints the question and fearlessly exposes the truth about which the public have a right to know.
The matter has huge constitutional significance because The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds that appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.
Investigative reporter David Leigh, whose story uncovering tax avoidance and the dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast by Trafigura, a major oil trading company sparked the controversy, said: “Today’s published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP (Paul Farrelly) who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister (Jack Straw MP) might answer it, or where the question is to be found.”
The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented - for the first time in memory - from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.
The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.
Leigh told The-Latest: "The phone hasn't stopped ringing and I'm up to my neck in legal action. I'm very grateful that you're supporting me. Thank-you. This is hugely important for the freedom of the press in a democracy."
From Parliament.uk Questions for Oral or Written Answer beginning on Tuesday October 13 2009:
Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.
The law firm involved is so notorious for using Britain's draconian libel laws - the toughest in the world - to gag the media that satirical magazine Private Eye dubbed its late founder Peter Carter "Fuck".