Prior Restraint in the UK: Editors who Publish Leaked Doc Re Bombing Al Jazeera will be Prosecuted
The UK is threatening major newspapers with a lawsuit over a story concerning a leaked document in which the UK and US Govts discuss whether to bomb the offices of the Al Jazeera newspaper. This would probably be an unacceptable example of a prior restraint in the US, despite the probability that the document is slightly damaging to national security. It's a fact that the UK isn't as serious about US style free speech -- this is evident when you consider the UK defamation laws, which are much easier to sue successfully under than in the US. Perhaps prior restraint is another example of difference in free speech in the UK and US. The lesson for Bush and Blair here -- don't record embarrassing ideas like this in leakable meeting minutes.
UK Times Online: Editors are threatened over TV station bombing claim
NEWSPAPERS editors were threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act last night if they published details of a conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush in which the President is alleged to have suggested bombing al-Jazeera, the Arab news network. Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, informed newspapers editors including that of The Times that Âpublication of a document that has been unlawfully disclosed by a Crown servant could be in breach of Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act.Â
The Blair Government has obtained court injunctions against newspapers before but it has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents.
Under a front-page headline ÂBush plot to bomb his allyÂ in the Daily Mirror yesterday, a secret minute of the conversation in April 2004 records the President allegedly suggesting that he would like to bomb the channelÂs studios in Doha, capital of Qatar. Richard Wallace, the Editor of the Daily Mirror, said last night: ÂWe made No 10 fully aware of the intention to publish and were given Âno commentÂ officially or unofficially. Suddenly 24 hours later we are threatened under Section 5.Â
Very smooth guys. Winning over those hearts and minds like crazy aren't you?