Duck Duck Goose, a moment of your time please...

In this thread in GD, you posted this:

Care to elaborate on this claim?

Um–in the Pit? :confused:

This probably didn’t need to come to the pit, since it could easily be a simple matter of coming to a better understanding of what is or is not permitted under the Official Secrets Act. The adjective “strict” was unfortunate, but I’m fairly sure that had Daniel Schorr arranged for the publication of something similar to the Pentagon Papers in Britain, he’d have done some hard jail time. (Nixon certainly wanted him to do that in the States, but Nixon could not find a law with which to nail him, here.)

The U.S. laws regarding libel are also more favorable to the publisher/author than to the plaintiff than similar laws in Britain (which is not government, but tends to get mixed up in U.S. minds on “freedom of speech” issues).

Of course, that should have said

How the hell did this get in the pit? Could have sworn I was in GQ. Oh dear.

Tomndebb, you cite the OSA, which seems to be rather limited in terms of preventing people criticising the UK government - I doubt me writing a foot long rant on why Tony Blair was Britain’s lousiest prime minister ever would fall within it’s remit.

Can anyone give me some guidelines on what limits there are in the UK on public criticism of the government.

And if any passing Mod happened to notice that this idiot had posted a thread in the wrong forum and saw fit to move it, that would be rather nice too.

Oh, good, I’m SO glad Gary isn’t really gunnin’ for me. :smiley:

Well, other than just a general perception that the press is more tightly controlled in Great Britain than in the United States, especially when it comes to criticism of the government–there’s this…

And this…

Evidently the British government has an official press censorship organization. If the United States of America has a similar body, I am not aware of it.

I’m not sure that there’s much value in considering the OSA when talking about freedom of speech. I’ve never signed the act (I don’t think a large proportion of the population has either) so I can’t see how I could breach the terms of the act. I can say whatever I like in public (although I could be liable to civil action) with some exceptions such as inciting racial hatred.
On the specific point, I’m sure I can never be censured for criticism of the government…we’re not quite a dictatorship.

Thanks DDG.

The two instances you refer to here involve Britain’s security services trying to stop a list of agents names being published. Ignoring the sheer incompetence that must have led to this list falling into the wrong hands, I’d imagine that most every government has some agency to prevent this sort of info being published.

I’d also take a guess that between the NSA, CIA and FBI a similar censorship operation would be performed if it was a list of american intelligence agents about to be published on a website.

I think that you will find our press is extremely free.

There is a voluntary code of conduct and a press complaints commission(PCC) whose job it is to investigate issues of press harassment, misrepresentation, and plain old libel.

Libel is often referred to the PCC before legal action is taken by the plaintiff.

The PCC was set up after the a history of press intrusion into the lives of public figures(partly to fend off attempts to legislate privacy laws agianst the press), in particular the death of Princess Diana, and the predicted harassment of her children, especially William.

Our low brow press is pretty damn scurrilous, the only thing they print that I would believe without reservation is the price.

Actually the use of the law to try gag publishing was more about vain attempts to stop the accusations of incompetence about our intelligence services (it is, apparently, a state secret)
The most likely cases to be well known worldwide are the Micheal Shayler case, he alleges intelligence service misbehaviour in trying to assasinate Colona Ghaddaffi, and of failing to pass on infromation to the Isreali’s about terrorist bombings of aircraft, and the infamous Spycatcher affair where the book was published in Australia and one of our senior civil servants (in)famously added to the list of euphamisms for lying by saying that he had been ‘economical with the truth’.

Direct criticism of the government is very common as our newspapers are very partisan.

You can say just about what you like in print provided it is either an opinion and is made clear as such or it is fact as does not contravene the citizenship rights of individuals (such as naming rape victims, publishing personal details in an article that will make them vulnerable to criminal behaviour)

Censorship when it comes to media is generally about controlling when and where potentially offensive material is displayed such as porn, violence on tv and cinema film ratings and not about criticism of government.

The press have been supported in their independance by the judiciary by ruling against state prosecution which has tried to force journalists to disclose sources, which is why the PCC is a voluntary ethics board rather than mandatory.

Fact is that many of us in the UK are under the impression that censorship in some US states is far more draconian, especially when it deals with sexual imagery.

I thought this day would never come! A chance to correct an error (albeit minor and unimportant) by tomndebb!

Daniel Ellsberg was the guy who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Schorr is a guy on NPR.

What do I win?

Bragging rights, I guess.

You’re right. Schorr helped pass along the Pike Committe report on CIA assassinations that Ford wanted sealed. Ford & Co. then sicced the House Ethics Committee on Schorr, although they were unable to do more than get him fired from CBS.