Tuesday, 16 June 2009


There had been a lot of debate in British BloggerLand following police authorities stance that officers should not blog. So far as I am aware, all of the posters used a pseudo-name anyway and took steps to ensure that they could not be identified by what they wrote about. Two or three decided as soon as the banning order came out that the cake was not worth the candle and closed shop. Others took more effort at scrambling their stories. some resented the order and became quite defiant. Others just carried on as if there had been no force instruction.

A recent court case seems to have laid down a precedent when the blogger's right to anonymity was challenged by a newspaper. The High Court has refused to preserve the anonymity of an award-winning policeman who has blogged about the force and government ministers.Mr Justice Eady refused an injunction to prevent the Times identifying serving officer "Night Jack". The judge said said blogging was "essentially a public rather than a private activity". Night Jack's lawyer said preserving his anonymity was in the public interest. Hugh Tomlinson QC said the thousands who communicated via the internet under a cloak of anonymity would be "horrified" to think the law would do nothing to protect their identities if someone carried out the necessary detective work to unmask them.

Richard Horton, a detective constable with Lancashire Constabulary, is named as the author of NightJack. Horton tried to obtain a High Court injunction to prevent the Times from revealing that he was the author of the blog, which the paper claims reveals confidential information about criminal cases that can be identified. In April NightJack was awarded an Orwell Prize for political writing. Today, the blog appears to have been deleted by the author. Quite what the Times thinks it has achieved from all this is beyond my comprehension. The blog has gone and with it an insight into how his force operates - that material alone was worth praise. The media are very firm in their stance that they will not reveal their sources of information so we seem to have double standards here. A sad day methinks.

Posted via email from John's posterous


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