This, from C4, gives a pretty fair summing up of the issues involved in the #daftarrest libel trial which concluded last week:
Blogger’s legal fight shines light on council transparency
She was arrested for filming a council meeting – the situation escalated and now she’s in a high court libel trial. But citizen journalist Jacqui Thompson says she will still fight for transparency.
It’s a David and Goliath case which lays bare the challenges – and, some would say, the importance – of citizen journalism.
LLandwrda resident Jacqui Thompson is a blogger who writes about her local authority, Carmarthenshire County Council. She says she just wants to raise awareness of what’s happening in local government – but she has been locked in a legal struggle with the council authorities over her work for much of the last 18 months.
Back in 2011, Mrs Thompson was ejected from a council meeting and arrested when she refused to stop filming for a report on her blog. She says there is nothing in the council rules which indicates that she cannot film – but the council disagreed. Read on…….
The new Edition of Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs section, has a cautionary tale of a blogger under attack, this time in Barnet, of all places!
The story, outlines the attempt by Barnet Council’s imaginative legal team who thought they could use Data Protection legislation to shut a blogging critic up. Back in May, Barnet Council made a complaint to the Information Commissioner, claiming outrageously that Mr Mustard was “an unregistered Data Controller.”
This would , if successful, have been important to all bloggers as the penalties would have been considerable. Thankfully the Information Commissioner emphatically ruled in the bloggers favour, leaving some red faces at Barnet Council.
Bloggers, commenting on contemporaneous matters everywhere, face difficulties caused by those they seek to scrutinise coming up with evermore ingenious ways to create a climate of fear in an attempt to stop us. All bloggers need to be vigilant about these attempts to shut us down and must resist them. Ultimately It won’t work of course, but the pesky blighters keep on trying, nevertheless!
Readers may wish to look at Mr Mustards excellent piece on his blog, Read it here.
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“New technology – particularly social media – means new opportunities to scrutinise councils; while the growing interest in citizen journalism and blogging means more people wanting to hold their council to account. It’s important that we keep pace with these new developments. So it’s disappointing that some council officers seem stuck in the analogue age: with some banning videoing, tweeting or live blogging.”
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. From ConservativeHome.