I WOULD have had considerably more respect for Tony Blair's attack on the "feral beast" that is the media if he had chosen to do so in the earlier days of his premiership. It's really not quite so brave to attack when you have little time left in office. But, let's face it, he was never going to do that. Who can forget the then national heritage secretary David Mellor's attack on the media and threats of regulation? They were, he said, "drinking in the last-chance saloon".
LET'S talk hypothetically. Imagine, during the run-up to the Holyrood elections, the media have information of a sex story about a prospective candidate. To print or not to print - that is the dilemma.
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ODD-one-out round. Donald Findlay QC, Chief Constable John Vine, Gerald Ratner and the Times's political editor, Angus Macleod. The answer is that, while the first three have got into hot water for making jokes, the latter had a joke told about him without any consequences.
SO FAR as defamation is concerned, 2006 will be remembered for one case in particular: Tommy Sheridan's mammoth battle against the News of the World. Originally only scheduled for nine days, it seemed to last the whole summer. Sex, politics and the tabloid industry all under the same roof - in an otherwise quiet summer for newspapers it made easy and compelling copy.
AND the winner of this year's "What on earth were you thinking?" award goes to Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation. The reason for such an honour was a proposed book and TV interview with OJ Simpson, in which he was to give an account of how, had he been guilty, he might have murdered his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
DIVORCES can be messy.
I HAVE never hidden my views on the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). Having viewed its adjudication procedure as both poacher and gamekeeper, I am drawn like many critics to the conclusion that the system is weighted against the complainant.
IN FEBRUARY last year, Cathy Jamieson, the justice minister, backtracked after urging shopkeepers not to stock Buckfast because it was fuelling antisocial behaviour. For those not prone to getting "fuelled up" to use the justice minister's quote at that time, Buckfast is one of a number of cheap alcoholic products on the market which has in modern parlance become intrinsically associated with the ned.
WHEN it comes to the identification of children convicted of criminal offences, the courts seem to be sending out a signal to the media. The basic rule both in Scotland and England is that there is a ban on identifying anyone under 16 in a criminal trial. That includes both the accused and the victim. But a provision does allow the court, at any stage of proceedings, to dispense with the ban if it is in the public interest.
I WAS in Dundee on Tuesday. There was the small matter of an industrial tribunal, where clients of mine wanted representations put forward that would allow them to identify a Hollywood celebrity, who had been allowed to remain anonymous because of an earlier order. As has been seen from the reams of print, they were successful and Kevin Costner was identified as the celebrity accused of performing a sex act while being given a massage at the Old Course Hotel.
"IT'S been a good week for press freedom." Not my words, but rather those of George Galloway MP.
FOR a man who complains about publicity, he certainly creates enough of it. Like a celebrity he goes to court to get the press to back off. Except this man is not on the A-list. More likely he is on A wing. He is William Beggs, the "limbs in the loch" murderer.
BARELY a day goes by without a call from a client complaining about something on the internet: "How do I get it removed?"; "how do I find out who put it there?"; and "who can I sue?" tend to be the three questions posed by those seeking advice.
ODD-one-out round: Prince Charles, David Irving and Peter Aldred. Answer: none of the above. You see all three have done things this week that could have easily been avoided, and that have gone spectacularly wrong.
PERHAPS members of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) should be advised to dust down their record collections and listen to the lyrics of Rod Stewart. In particular the words: "every picture tells a story".
EARLIER this week, the Sentencing Commission tabled proposals aimed at ensuring prison sentences passed by Scottish courts meant what they said.
WHERE do you draw the line when it comes to free speech? We take it for granted. Not just a free press, but the ability to express your views on a topic. After all, even a fool is entitled to an honestly held opinion.
AS YET another Christmas draws near, there hasn't been too much to shout about this year in the world of libel.
IT'S hardly surprising that so many letters to newspaper editors complain about the criminal justice system.
IT CAN'T be easy being Graham Rix. He would have been hoping that the controversy surrounding his appointment as manager of Hearts was now behind him. Yesterday's papers and the comments of his employer and Hearts chairman, Roman Romanov would have made him choke on his breakfast.
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