Wednesday, 14 October 2009

But we mustn't forget that tomorrow . . .

. . . it is Simon Singh's oral appeal against Eady's ruling.

The courts will, from the sounds of things, be packed. Jack has asked people not to blog or tweet live in court, as it will be seen as discourteous and won't help Simon. I wish I could be there. Or at least that my penguin galaxy could go along for me instead . . .

I wonder if the last two days' furore over Trafigura will affect the mood of the proceedings? (Three more interesting Guardian articles: "Twitter can't be gagged"; "Trafigura gag unites house in protest", and "A few tweets and freedom of speech is restored".) Carter-Ruck hasn't done a great job of proving the benefits of enforced legal silence. We've just emerged from a battle in which the whistleblowers were the heroes - and I see Simon as a whistleblower, too.

On this neat round-up of the story, one blogger leaves the worrying question in the comments: will this blasting of privacy for the privileged simply mean it'll be even easier for the government to make individual members of the public targets to this sort of thing too? Hmmm, it's a possibility, I suppose. But on the other hand, perhaps privacy versus publicity isn't the only deciding factor, but powerful versus not. Judge Eady invariably seems to rule on the side of the rich or powerful: the Guardian won over Nightjack; the BCA were favoured over Simon Singh. So Nightjack's privacy which was so essential to keeping the public informed about the police was not respected (shame on the Guardian! That spoils my enjoyment of their victory now); while the BCA was ruled to be perfectly at liberty to prevent a journalist from accusing them of not offering their patients the best treatment.

The privacy of an individual person is quite a different thing from the accountability of a large corporation whose activities affect the lives of thousands. A corporation is, I would say, capable of doing vast amounts more damage than an individual human, yet it, itself, has no personal feelings to be wounded as individual humans do. It's ironic how much more gently the corporation is treated.

But I hope it's now clear that corporations and large associations simply have to be written about. That Simon is given credit as one of those who upheld such a principle. And that it's remembered that without people like the twitterers, and like Simon, how much further and how deeply the balance of power would be shifted towards the corporations who may simply make well-meaning mistakes, or may damage, exploit, and even murder, at will.

So I picture it as being into an unexpectedly charged atmosphere that Simon goes into court tomorrow. Maybe I'm wrong and it won't make a blind bit of difference. I expect we'll find out soon. Whatever happens, though, it's only going to be another beginning. He has a long way to go.

So it's not too late to sign this.
free debate

No comments: