The Court notes that the present case is to be distinguished from the case of Aquilina and Others v. Malta, cited above, where all the evidence heard by the domestic courts in the defamation proceedings against the applicants clearly indicated that the magistrate hearing the bigamy case had made a finding of contempt of court in respect of the lawyer appearing for the accused. In that case, however, the domestic courts (in the defamation proceedings) paid little or no attention to this evidence, preferring to rely on the brief and apparently incomplete record of the proceedings before the Court of Magistrates (see paragraphs 47 – 49 of that judgment). Moreover in that case the court reporter had shown due diligence in attempting to verify the facts, and the newspaper had published an apology two days later (paragraph 50).
If you have no idea what I’m talking about (and if you know me at all I find that hard to believe), then my note on the original judgment is here.
The Times of Malta asked me for some comments on the London riots. I should have had nothing to say really, since I luckily did not come across any rioting hoodies, but of course that wasn’t about to stop me. So here’s what I said:
As far as I’m concerned, the pictures I’m seeing on the news are happening in a parallel London. I was in Piccadilly Circus last night, just a block up from Malta House and apparently there was rioting near Oxford Circus (just up the road) and on Tottenham Court Road (which is right next to my office). I actually walked through all these points to go back home and saw, heard and felt nothing.
I live in North London, reasonably near Enfield where some of the rioting took place over the weekend and I did think on Saturday that I was hearing sirens on the high street more often than usual but then again sirens on a Saturday night are really nothing remarkable in London.
So it’s sort of passed me by, from a personal point of view, and at least up to now, because it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up soon.
Of course, being a news junkie, I keep reading and watching the news obsessively and reading all the comments on Twitter and there’s some scary footage out there so I cancelled my plans to go to my book club in East London tonight because the Met Police are urging everyone to stay home.
Life in London goes on as normal, we have scares regularly, whether it’s terrorism fears or political protests which turn sour etc, but I’m trying not to let down the beautiful London spirit and will deal with things as they happen. It’s easier said than done though because I’ve had so many calls from concerned family and friends checking up on me that it’s brought the situation home to me more keenly than the news footage.
I don’t understand very well why this is happening and I don’t think anyone does really. I heard a man on the telly in total despair yesterday, saying over and over again he couldn’t undersand why.. He had just watched his beautiful furniture shop in Croydon burn to the ground. It was a 140-year-old building and understandably, he was really upset but mostly confused because he couldn’t understand why he’d be targeted.
And, after I’d had the opportunity to take a little walk near the office at lunchtime, I sent another email.
Here’s a little update for you. I walked down Tottenham Court Road and chatted to the people in the shops who are a bit scared because they’ve heard that the rioters are coming this way tonight. There’s a significant police presence on Tottenham Court Road, maybe two or three uniformed police on every corner. Oh and a couple of the shops had their windows smashed, the shops which sell appliances, hifi and IT only though. Other than that, the sun is shining and it’s very quiet around here.
The full story in The Times is here, of course my comments had to be edited to fit the story but there are some nice quotes from other Maltese people in London although I don’t agree with everything they said.
Immigration is not about numbers, but about people… but even the numbers don’t add up in the Maltese context … Sorry MT peeps, there are more of us out here, than there are ‘foreigners’ on the rock. Maybe Malta is not the centre of the universe after all? Data courtesy of http://www.peoplemov.in/
Times of Malta journalist acted in good faith when reporting on bigamy court case
In today’s Chamber judgment in the case Aquilina and Others v. Malta (application no.28040/08), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:
A violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights
The case concerned defamation proceedings brought by a lawyer following a report in the Times of Malta newspaper that he had been found guilty of contempt of court at the final stages of a bigamy case.
This judgment has many good points but to me, the most important point was the ECHR stopping the Maltese courts from redefining the practice of journalism. Here is the salient paragraph:
“To limit court reporting to facts reproduced in the records of proceedings, and to bar reports based on what a journalist has heard and seen with his or her own eyes and ears, as corroborated by others, would be an unacceptable restriction of freedom of expression and the free flow of information. While there may be a presumption that the official record of court proceedings is complete and accurate, such a presumption may be rebutted by other evidence of what occurred during the course of the proceedings. It follows that in a conflict between the records of the case and the sworn evidence of witnesses who have no personal interest in the case, a court should not discard the sworn evidence a priori. This is even more true where, as here, there is no apparent conflict since the record of the proceedings is silent on the matter in issue.”
What with not wanting to get fired for being a loudmouth (which, admittedly, I am) and taking on some book editing projects which are taking up all that’s left of my “free” time, I have neglected this blog terribly.
I’ve been working on the loudmouth thing but I can’t help being offensive and tactless at times. I may not mean to be but I can’t please everyone. I know, I’ve read the insults on the right wing forums, I’m not above googling myself every now and then.
I think it’s only fair to my current employer not to embroil them into my previous life as a journalist and campaigner. But I’m itching to start blogging again, maybe I can find a compromise.
From a TV script, that is…
The redoubtable Dame Maggie Smith as the scary Dowager Countess of Grantham in the second episode of Downton Abbey, when told there’s always the weekend to do additional work on the estate…
“What’s a weekend?”
11? September? I blink and a fortnight whisks past… but this weekend I’ve got all the time in the world. No plans, just me, alone in my flat, the right ingredients for a couple of recipes I’ve been wanting to try for a while, a stack of magazines, a pile of DVDs and Jane Garvey‘s mellifluous tones on Radio 4…
Maybe, just maybe I might stop by… unless the sore throat turns into a full-blown cold and then I’ll just snuggle up with a book and to hell with the world.