MP Paul Farrelly's Secret Questions

The Questions the London Guardian was forbidden to report on

(commentary by Timothy Horrigan; October 12, 2009)

 [October 13, 2009] Great news: the gag order was lifted. See the news story:

 [October 21 2009] The questions were partially answered during a debate on the floor on October 21, 2009:

As a free-speech advocate and as a legislator I was alarmed to see that the London Guardian and British Labour MP Paul Farrelly were being gagged. Farrelly published four questions in the House of Common's weekly calendar (or "Order Book") that the Guardian was forbidden to report on or even to acknowledge the existence of. In their words: "The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found."

The questions are, evidently, those being asked on October 14th by Paul Farrelly, who represents Newcastle-Under-Lyme. The questions are directed to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw (who was not named after the Grateful Dead song.)

Questions 60 through 64 on the October 14th calendar touch on issues which are relevant even in New Hampshire: e.g., judicial misconduct, corporate malfesance, and transparency of government. Oh, and toxic waste as well.I am not forbidden from reporting these questions, so here they are.

  1. Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the Court of Appeal judgment in May 2009 in the case of Michael Napier and Irwin Mitchell v Pressdram Limited in respect of press freedom to report proceedings in court.

  2. Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

  3. Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years.

  4. Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what mechanisms HM Court Service uses to draw up rosters of duty judges for the purpose of considering time of the essence applications for the issuing of injunctions by the High Court.

Question #61 is related to a controversy which has some connection to the United States:. Back in 2006, he British oil company Trafigura bought sulphur-contaminated Mexican gasoline in Texas and tried to take the sulphur out of it while en route to Europe. They eventually dumped a large amount of toxic waste near Abdijan, the capital of the Ivory Coast and got caught and were sued. Thousands of people were severely injured.

The Guardian told the story in its September 16th issue:

The damning emails can be read at:

Several months ago, on May 13, 2009 the BBC also ran a shocking story on the scandal. The BBC, like the Guardian is being sued.

Trafiguar are being represented by the infamous law firm Carter-Ruck, who specialize in protecting rich people from having their misdeeds exposed in the press. This is not the first time Carter-Ruck has gone after the Guardian.

Carter-Ruck's practice is not limited to defending shadowy multinationals who dump toxic waste in the Third World. They also defend has-been pop stars, like (in case settled just a few weeks ago in September 2009) Liam Gallagher of the currently-defunct band Oasis. A Guardian reviewer reported that Gallagher had abruptly stormed off stage while his brother Noel (the band's lead guitarist) sang two songs. This was supposedly libelous because Liam didn't abruptly storm off stage when Noel sang his two songs: supposedly he just quietly left the stage like he always does when Noel sings a lead. According to his lawyers, Liam Gallagher "has decided to donate the damages to charity."

Paul Farrelly (on left) speaking out in favor of dental care

Paul Farrelly (2nd from left) with the legendary England goalkeeper Gordon Banks (3rd from left.) Banks played club football with the local team, Stoke City. The man on the far left is another old Stoke footballer, Terry Conroy.

See also:

  In 2010, I am cosponsoring a somewhat controversial bill, repealing New Hampshire's 200-year-old adultery laws: