Tuesday, 15 December 2009

BBC caves in to lawyers

So our ratings-chasing neighbours are quite happy to subject the residents of the Bush to the BNP, but when faced with a stiff lawyers' letter they cave in like a pack of cards. What are the lives of local residents compared to Carter-Ruck the lawyers after all.

Here is a film about the firm Trafigura which their lawyers Carter-Ruck demanded the BBC take down off their website and remove all reference to. The BBC grovellingly obliged and you can now find no reference to even the story on their website.

I wonder if Messrs Carter-Ruck will be sending me, and so many of the other bloggers who have today reproduced this film in the face of the BBC's spinelessness, stiff letters too. Somehow I doubt it. Watch, be informed and form your own opinion.

19 December UPDATE: With thanks to readers who have sent me the text of a statement the BBC made in Open Court regarding this case, which you can find here with commentary from the Liberal Conspiracy blog here.

1 comment:

  1. I doubt they'll need to deal with suing bloggers individually - thought they might take on more high profile sites - they'll just keep sending cease & desist letters to any video sharing site that hosts it - YouTube, Vimeo, Blip, etc. Depends on whether Google/YouTube have the resources and the willingness to stand up to them the same way they stood up to the studios' lawsuits over copyrighted material, to find a commercial compromise.

    This is the second BBC-defending comment in a row, but I'm not sure the BBC is in the same position as bloggers and twitterers. They have to respond to legal threats - they can't just ignore them and then let us foot the bill when the court awards damages. Even though the BBC could actually afford a legal defence if unjustly sued, which most bloggers couldn't (which is why you have to be careful how you phrase things - whole blogs can disappear overnight thanks to the libel laws, and personal lawsuits issued). You'll notice that the New Statesman blog post you linked to has been removed, too - so the New Statesman have 'caved like a pack of cards', too.

    The point is that it was the BBC who first published this story on Newsnight - and although Twitter has defeated the attempt to suppress freedom of speech in the Commons, Carter *uck 'never abandoned its attempt to sue the BBC’s Newsnight over a feature on the alleged dumping of toxic waste.' (from that NS article, now copied here:

    So it was the BBC who did the investigative journalism that exposed all this in the first place. Surely something worth celebrating for a local org. And then REpublished (as embedded in your post) *after* the lawsuit had been issued, to report on the free speech angle and the Twitter event. Which is more than most commercial news organisations would do.

    I don't want to bang on about it too much, but I think it's a bit much to attack the BBC for being weak - the villains here are Carter-*uck and their evil clients.