2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 420 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Merry christmas and happy new years

 I saw this a few days ago when I was checking my statistics and it made me really happy. I actually have readers!

So, Merry Christmas and happy new years to ALL my readers, wherever you are!

(I use the Word Press app in Swedish)

(I use the Word Press app in Swedish)

“A new year is on the way and the possibilities are endless.” ― Unknown

facebook and privacy

Being part of social media sites has many social benefits. Especially for someone like me that live abroad and need a way to stay in touch with friends through interactive communication tools, such as Facebook. However, I have realized that it doesn’t come for free or without risks.

The other day when I was on my phone looking through my Facebook messages it suddenly asked me if I wanted to download the new Messenger app. The app is beneficial as the users can access their messages quicker and easier. It all sounds good, however, the permissions Messenger wants in return sound pretty ominous. The terms of use make it look as if Facebook can use the Messenger app to copy your address book, send email and text messages to your contacts without your knowledge, and even use your smartphone’s camera and mic to spy on you.

My first thought when I realized this was “But wait, what? Can they really do this?” Well yes, the permissions requests may seem very broad, but there is a reason behind them, and as a matter of fact it is exactly what other apps are requesting too.

Facebook has a help page that details each of the permission requests and why those requests are being made;

Using your smartphone’s camera and microphone This isn’t a move to spy on what you’re saying, listen in on conversations, or secretly capture photos and video of whatever you’re doing. Messenger needs these permissions to access the camera and mic when you snap photos or video in-app, and to record audio messages or make in-app voice calls.

Calling phone numbers Facebook doesn’t have any plans to cold call your friends with targeted ads. Messenger needs your OK to dial if you ever tap a friend’s phone number in-app so it can initiate the call.

Text messaging Messenger needs permission to send you text messages because adding a phone number to your account requires a verification system. Sending you an SMS message is how that happens.

Address book access Facebook doesn’t want access to your contacts so it can send your friends ads. Granting Messenger access to your contacts simply lets you access contact information from within the app.

We already knew that Facebook did not value our privacy but the new app is giving Facebook even more information about you which they did not already have. They collect from your personal life, you can block access to your iPhone’s microphone, camera, and more, by launching the Settings app and tapping Privacy. However, if you’re uber-paranoid, maybe it’s time to delete the apps from your iPhone.


“What happens on social media stays on Google forever.” ― Unknown

An act of kindness gone wrong!

With regards to M’s blogpost I would like to talk about the matter of reporting cases involving children, specifically focusing on the Watkin fiasco.

As we have talked about in my previous blog post the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (CYPA 1933) says as a general rule that proceedings in the youth court are not open to the publics; s.47 CYPA 1933. Press representatives are not prevented from report on proceedings, but only from identifying the child or any young person involved in the proceedings; s.49 CYPA 1933.

Ian Watkins, a musician, pleaded guilty to a number of sex offences including raping two children (one only 11-months old) while the mothers (groupies) allowed and encouraged the abuse. The mother,

A court order was made to grant lifelong anonymity to the two children in accordance with the CYPA 1933. In order to keep their identities secret the mother identities could neither be revealed as this would simply cause a “jigsaw identification”. However, despite of all this, Peaches Geldof illegally named the mothers (who had until then been identified as “women A” and “women B”) in a tweet. Her twitter readers were furious by her action and called her an “idiot”.

M writes in her post that “These women sacrificed the innocence of their own children, to satisfy their own hunger for fame, but even so, they may be victims and, more to the point, their children definitely ARE victims”. I could not agree more with this. These women were persuaded by Watkins to “sacrifices” their own children in order to be “liked” by the artist. The mothers did indeed accomplice to the crime by putting their children at risk and making them a victim. Peaches Geldof similarly put the children at danger when revealing the mother’s names. She tried to get justice, but did not see the consequences of her action. As encouraging as it may seem to reveal their names one must not do so as it will identify the true victims, merely the children. I agree with Peaches twitter readers who seem to know more than the “self-known” journalist herself who indeed seem to need to take some law courses. She is not only putting the victim’s life at stake by doing this she is also acting illegally.


“You will always stand taller when you kneel to help a child.” ― Unknown


Reporting local government and elections

In this week’s lecture I will encompass reporting local council meetings and also reporting elections.

Reporting local council meetings:

The freedom of press has lately been boosted by a new governmental body. Eric Pickles signed an order in August 2014 allowing press and the public to report and film all public meetings of local government bodies. This new right to report updates a law passed by Margaret Thatcher as a backbench MP

It is important to have transparency and openness behind everything that is done by councils and other local government bodies. New right with regard to this has now been brought together in Openness of Local Government Bodies 2014, which enables members of the public to know how decisions are made. Its gives rights to member of the press and public to:

  • use modern technology and communication methods such as filming, audio-recording, blogging and tweeting to report the proceedings of the meetings of their councils and other local government bodies
  • See information relating to significant decisions made outside meetings by officers acting under a general or specific delegated power.

The government has published a plain English guide of practical information on how the public can exercise their new rights, and what they should expect from their local government bodies.

Reporting election:

It is a criminal offence to report and make a statement of fact on the personal character or conduct of an elections candidate with the purpose to effect the voting. There is a legal ban on publishing exit polls on voting day. However, you are not prevented from publishing the result of opinion polls arising from surveys before the voting poles open on the voting day. Reporters can neither express personal support for any candidate or party.

Reporters can read and follows this handbook on how to report election.

Tom Crook on cover elections:

“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them” ― Alfred Hitchcock

Read more here:


Secret Britain

In this week’s post we will discuss The Telegraph’s description of Britain as a ‘word leader for reticence among democracies’.

Click here to listen to Radio 4’s Secret Britain series by Peter Hennessy, the leading Whitehall-watcher. He tells the story of the Official Secrets Act and explores the tension between Britain’s culture of state secrecy and more open government.

Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 says that it is an offence for any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State to:

  • Approach, inspect, pass over, be in the neighbourhood of or enter any prohibited place.
  • Make any sketch, plan, model, or note which is calculated to be or might be or intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.
  • Obtain, collect, record, or publish, or communicate to any other person any secret official code word, or pass word, or any sketch, plan, model, article or note, or other document or information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.

The Official Secrets Act 1911 replaced the 1889 one. However, this section of the Act has been highly discussed as is seem to protect ‘everything’ from being revealed. It seem like this section is trying to make individuals hesitant from revealing any kind of secret that may risk the safety of the state by putting a high punishment level.

However, before making a clear statement of the exceptional section we must look at the case of Clive Ponting (R v Ponting [1985]). Clive Ponting, senior official in the Ministry of Defence, was arrested and put on trial under section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 for leaking two official documents concerning the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands War. Clive Ponting was a senior civil servant tasked with preparing a top secret report about the incident. Clive Pointing argued that the leaked documents were in the public interest to know the truth about the scenario of the sinking ship. The jury agreed with him and acquitted him in spite of the law, something they have a right to do. He believed that the government had been concerned only with saving itself from political embarrassment. Ponting was held innocent by the jury as he revealed the truth and thus had acted in the national interest. Pointing has later pointed out that he wanted to know more about the incident. The court held that his duty to the state meant duty to the Crown in Parliament, not to a government concerned only with covering up its own lies.

The aquitance of Pointing was completely against the 1911 Act. Lord Franks therefore in 1978 recommended a reform in his report ‘Departmental Committee on section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911’ (1978). Lord Hurd confirmed the Frank report by saying: “The weight of the argument was that if you really wanted an effective Act, it had to be less comprehensive. By narrowing the space in which you were working to defend, you made it more likely that you would succeed in defending it”. Accordingly was The Official Secrets Act 1911 replaced by Official Secrets Act 1989 which indeed changed s.2 by being more limited and accurate. It simply prohibits disclosure of information regarding the following six categories;

  •   Security and intelligence
  •   Defense
  •   International relations
  •   Assisting criminals
  •   Information resulting from unauthorized disclosures or entrusted in confidence
  •   Information entrusted in confidence to other states or international organisations

The conclusion can be drawn that this new Act makes the government more transparent and open to so called “protected disclosures” (those assessed to be in the public interest). This was easily illustrated when the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force and allowed the public to get access to documents relating the works of government and other public bodies. However, there will always be situation where national security will be questioned and challenged.

If you want to know more about the incident of Clive Pointing then you must watch this clip (below) where it is among other things said by the Director of Public Prosecutions,  Sir Thomas Hetherington, that “I must live with section 2. It is the job of parliament to decide what should be in the statue book. So if something like section 2 is in the statue book, then it is my job to use it”.  Lord Denning is also shown in the clip and says among other things that “it is an Act that must be replaced”;

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ― Albert Einstein

Do you understand the court reporting laws?

In today’s blog post I will go through 4 questions and answer them in order to show my understanding regarding press and public court access and the contempt of the court. This will also give you as a reader an insight and idea of what the law in regard with this looks like and how it is applied in different scenarios;

  1. Do the restrictions under the Magistrates’ Courts Act apply to the story below? Re-write the story, and then explain how the Act applies. In particular, pay attention to the offence charged and whether persons can be named.

Denton magistrates heard that a man loitering within the grounds of a hospital’s staff accommodation at 2am last Sunday had photographed female nurses undressing in ground floor rooms. Barry Bright, 20, a shop assistant, of Elm Avenue, Lower Denton, pleaded not guilty to voyeurism. The hearing was adjourned for the trial to take place before magistrates in a week’s time at the request of the defence, who said Bright’s father had been taken ill that morning.

Mr Michael Mackay, prosecuting, said Brenda Shafi, aged 19, was in her room at Nightingale House, Denton, when she looked out of the window and saw a man with a camera. She alerted her friend, Sharon Jones, in the next room, and they went outside and confronted Bright, who they had seen earlier at a disco.

The Children and Young Person’s Act 1933, says that a youth receives legal anonymity once they have appeared in court. The Press Complaints Commission Code discourages naming youths under 16 involved in crimes. Barry Bright is excluded from this rule as he is 20 years old, thus no youth element and we can therefore name him.

However, S.67 of The Sexual Offences Act 2003 says that under voyeurism, the victims cannot be named. Therefore should Brenda Shafi’s name be taken out of the context.

On a further note; Journalists should always be careful when giving to much information about the victim. This is called “the jigsaw identification” and simply means that the victim might be identified by giving to many specific details. For this reason I suggest that the name of the building the suspect lived in should be taken out, so should her friends name as this will make it easy to find out who Sharon’s next door neighbour is. Other details such as “female nurses undressing in ground floor rooms” can also be altered slightly. Please see below for more information.

A better way of writing the scenario; Denton magistrates heard that a man loitering within the grounds of a hospital’s staff accommodation at 2am last Sunday had photographed female nurses undressing. Barry Bright, 20, a shop assistant, of Elm Avenue, Lower Denton, pleaded not guilty to voyeurism. The hearing was adjourned for the trial to take place before magistrates in a week’s time at the request of the defence, who said Bright’s father had been taken ill that morning. Mr Michael Mackay, prosecuting, said the victim, aged 19, was in her room when she looked out of the window and saw a man with a camera. She alerted her friend, in the next room, and they went outside and confronted Bright, who they had seen earlier.

  1. A defendant at a youth court denies taking away a car without the owner’s consent, and driving at 50 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone. The defendant was 17 at the time of the offences but had his 18th birthday 3 weeks before the youth court hearing. The chairman of the magistrates says “we wish to remind the press that the defendant cannot be identified.” Is this correct? Show how you reached the answer.

Children and Young Persons Act 1933 protects identification of juveniles appearing before youth courts. Section 49 says that no report may be published which reveals the name, address or school of any child or young person concerned in the proceedings, or which includes any particulars likely to lead to the identification of any child or young person. It is however unclear by the Act whether their identities should remain a secret when they had turned 18 if their case were still in progress.

Mr Justice Sullivan said in Todd v Director of Public Prosecutions 2003, that the purpose of section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 was “not to protect the interests of young persons’ once they have ceased to be such and have become adults…Once a person become an adult there is no reason to retain that restriction”. This case was similarly about a suspect, Todd, who was aged 17 when he first appeared court, but turned 18 before the case was concluded. The Sunderland Echo and Shields Gazette argued that “Todd should be named in light of the seriousness of the charge (which he had admitted) and his previous record, and the fact that, as he had turned 18 when he then appeared in court, he was no longer a “young person” within the meaning of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933”. The magistrates agreed.

Therefore, it the light of the case example, I believe that the chairman of the magistrates was wrong. The defendant can indeed be identified as he is 18 at the time of the trial. The media is not prohibited from naming him as the rule only applies to juveniles.

  1. Fourteen years old twins Sally and Susie will be appearing at Denton magistrates’ court, where the local council will apply for anti-social behaviour orders against them, under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, preventing them from making noise, late at night, on Lower Denton housing estate. No criminal charges are involved at this stage.

What type of magistrate will hear the application? An adult magistrate court deciding on civil matters.

Can the girls be named in newspaper reports? It depends on the direction of the court; s. 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

If they infringe the anti social behaviour order, which court will normally hear the case? It would then be a criminal matter in a juvenile court.

Will any reporting restrictions apply at that hearing? Again, it is all a matter of the direction of the court. There is simply no automatic anonymity.

  1. Given the details below, rewrite the story so that it conforms to contempt law and then briefly explain the law that you have applied.

Minnie Maus, 12, of the village of Mouseton, in Calisota, has been banned from driving by Calisota Youth Court. The prosecutor, Donald Canard, told the court that Minnie had drunk several glasses of wine and two cans of lager whilst at a party to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of her cousin, Daisy Pato, in their home in Duckburg. Clarabelle Vache, defending, said that Minnie had been drinking since she was eleven years old, and often enjoyed a drink while at home with her six older brothers. Minnie has been able to drive her father’s jeep around their farmland since she was ten years old, and she decided to take the jeep without her father’s permission and drive it back to her home, some fifty miles away. Her father called the police and Minnie was arrested five miles away from the Pato’s home. Minnie pleaded guilty to taking a vehicle without consent, driving without a licence and insurance, and driving with excess alcohol.

A good way of writing above scenario is; “A 12 year old girl has been banned from driving by the court after driving 5 miles when drunk on several glasses of wine and two cans of lager. The girl had been at a family celebration when she decided to take her fathers car and drive back home. She pleaded guilty.”

We would need to be very cautious with this kind of reporting as we need to carefully apply s.49 of the Children and Young Persons Act. In order not to recognize Minnie we would need to erase all information that may lead to jigsaw identification, such as her name, the amount of brother, the name of the village or the court.

A Modern Day Bonnie And Clyde

Today’s post will be about the very interesting and well known phone hacking case (or should I say scandal?) of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. And yes, we will talk about her oh so interesting love life as well!

But first, let us discuss a thing or two about the phone hacking incident:

Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, the two former new international editors along with the former managing director of Name Of The Word Stuart Kuttner and the papers former news editor Ian Edmondson were charged with conspiring to illegal phone hacking of the royal family, victims and other powerful and potential sources. The charges relate to 2000 and 2006.

Andy Coulson was found guilty in 2014 while Rebekah Brooks, his predecessor, walked free from the Old Bailey after she was cleared of all four charges from the eight-month trial. Brooks was found not guilty from charges including conspiring to phone hacking while she was editor of the News of the World and making corrupt payments to public officials when she was editor of the Sun. She was also cleared of two charges that she conspired with her former secretary and her husband to conceal evidence from police investigating phone hacking in 2011. Stuart Kuttner also was found not guilty on phone-hacking charges.

However, what is more interesting about Rebekah Brooks and Any Coulson is not only their illegal handlings or the fact that she got amazing red bouncy curly hair, but the fact that they had a 6 year long love affair!

Rebekah Brooks was first married to actor Ross Kemp. However, in the meantime she had an affair with Coulson who took over from her as editor at the News of the World when she moved to The Sun. The police found out about some letters to Coulson she wrote in 2004. It said: ‘You are my very best friend. I tell you everything, I confide in you, I seek your advice, I love you, care about you, worry about you. We laugh and cry together.”

Brooks has desperately tried to explain the affair and said she knew indeed it was wrong and it shouldn’t have happened. She went on to say that she and Ross Kemp was simply not meant to be together.

She met her husband Charlie 2007 and married him in 2009, after her divorce from Kemp. She had also endured rounds of fertility tests and treatment in a bid to have a baby, before her cousin agreed to be a surrogate and carry her baby.


“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.”
― Ken Levine


No Freeloaders Thanks! But Wait, You Sure?

Recognize this sign?


As you may have guessed by the above picture we will in today’s blog post learn about the law on copyright. We will not only discuss what it is, how it works and why it is illegal to infringe other people’s copyright, but we will also see how it sometimes can be a benefit for the copyright owner to have a more relaxed approach on this. 

Copyright is a law that gives you ownership over the things you create. Be it a painting, a photograph, a poem or a novel, if you created it, you own it and it’s the copyright law itself that assures that ownership. It entitles the copyright owner to royalties and a say in how a work is used when it is reproduced by other people. Copyright protection is automatically given to works as soon as they are fixed in material form (ideas are not protected, only the permanent expression of those ideas).

You do not have to go through any legal process or registration to establish copyright. That said, it is still good practice to keep records and evidence of the artistic works you have created. You will make people aware of your claim to copyright ownership if you put the symbol © with your name and the year of publication somewhere on the work. This is not proof that you own the copyright, but it may prove helpful if you bring an action for copyright infringement at a later date. You could consider sending yourself a copy of your work, clearly date stamped and by special delivery, and keeping the envelope unopened or depositing copies with a solicitor. Although this does not prove that the work is created by you, it can still be useful to show the court that the work was in your possession at a particular time. This could help with an infringement claim.

In the UK, copyright lasts for the lifetime of the artist plus 70 years after their death. There are some special provisions which apply to older unpublished works. Sound recordings, films, broadcasts and cable programmes are protected for 50 years from the date of making or the date of release if the release occurs within 50 years of it being made. Copyright in typographical arrangements of a published edition lasts for 25 years from the end of the year in which the edition was first published.

Copyright is infringed when someone carries out one of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights without their permission, and an exception to copyright does not apply. This can be in relation to the whole or a substantial part of the artistic work. What is “substantial” is determined by a qualitative test, not a quantitative one, which means that there may be an infringement even if a small but distinctive portion of the original artwork is copied. If you own the copyright, you are entitled to bring proceedings against the infringer for copyright infringement. A number of civil remedies may be granted if the claim is successful: these include an award of damages or an injunction which orders the infringer to stop using the work immediately.

It is obvious to assume that if an artist wants to make a living from their music, they have got to enforce copyright to stop all those freeloaders ruining their business. As we will see in the below YouTube clip there are number of artists with this approach that have had their music infringed by other musicians and taken them to court. One good example is The Kink’s song All Day And All Of The Night v. The Doors with their song Hello, I Love You. (Click here to listen to the similarity of the two songs.) The court held the songs were indeed very similar, so a deal was made between the artists were The Kinks were given a large deal of The Door’s royalty. The infringement was not only illegal but it was also morally wrong and it left The Doors ashamed and with empty pockets (but still not as empty as mine).

However, there are also artists that do appreciate and have a more relaxed approach to infringements on their copyright. One of those is Psy with his hit song that no one can have missed, Gangnam Style. (Remember last summer when everyone looked like they were doing some type of jumping frog aerobics choreography on the dance floor? Yeah, that’s the song and dance we are talking about). It was held that Psy made millions by ignoring copyright infringements on Gangnam Style. The copying helped turn Gangnam Style into one of the most successful cultural phenomena in recent years, and that includes becoming the most-viewed video on YouTube ever. Interestingly, it’s mostly from things not directly connected with either his music or video that is making money. It is merely television commercials that are the big money spinner for the star. PSY has been popping up in TV commercials in South Korea for top brands such as Samsung Electronics and mobile carrier LG Uplus.

This is a great example of how artists can give away copies of their music and videos to build their reputations and then earn significant sums from (as in this case) appearances in TV commercials.

Should artists enforce copyright or have a more relaxed approach about it? Personally I feel like I wouldn’t want people to freeload on my music or any of my businesses. It is my hard work that someone in simply stealing and making money out of. I think it would be difficult for me to have a laid back approach in regards to this. Not every artist like to take the same route as Psy and neither would I (if I was an artist).

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments.

Here is a clip with examples of 10 rip-off songs – many of them accused of plagiarism:

“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.”
― William Shakespeare