Friday, September 21, 2007

Defending Free Speech

This is outrageous. Two bloggers, Tim Ireland and Craig Murray, our former man in Uzbekistan, have had their sites pulled by their webhost. Their 'crime'? Penning unfavourable articles concerning Uzbek oligarch and major Arsenal FC shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, to which he, via his lawyers, has taken exception.

It's not just Ireland and Murray who have fallen victim to Mr Usmanov's legal sabre-rattling. Both Bob Piper and Boris Johnson have had the warty hands of m'learned friends clapped over their mouths too - not for commenting on Mr Usmanov, but simply because they share the same webhost which has been taken down!

Why should we care? Well, as Iain Dale says, if it's happened to them, it could happen to anyone. This censorship is absolutely deplorable, and while I won't bore you with my tuppence-worth on Usmanov, I do invite you to read the thoughts of the excellent Mr Eugenides and those to whom he has linked, who collectively have said everything that I could possibly want to say on this matter for the moment.

Free speech is precious. Too precious to be muffled by the chequebooks of the wealthy, whenever the little people like us say something they don't like.


Achievable Life said...

You are SPOT ON.
Personally, I feel and maintain that anyone who tries to defend against a libel suite is by the very nature guilty.
Those who just ignore the comments are innocent. Plus they are ‘GROWN UP’.
I would also say that in the case of the tycoon you speak of, by my definition he IS very much guilty, So sue me – Thats my opinion and I will NEVER change it (unless this is one of the freedoms we have just lost). Why should he be worried about getting ‘his innocence into the media’ if he were ACTUALLY innocent.
It’s rather CHILDISH of Usmanov to actually think we ‘Give a monkeys’. Just goes to show that being rich does not hide the fact that one can still be ‘STUPID’.

Personally I will check what it is Usmanov owns and I will make a concerted effort to AVOID it.

That is a good idea, does anyone know what he does and how can I avoid increasing his finances. Let me know.

Maybe the FANS that support his football team should just not turn up to the next few matches.
That will send a signal to his pockets and his MATES too.

Richard Thomson said...

I think Craig Murray would quite enjoy his day in court if Usmanov were actually to sue. Trouble is, he won't, so he resorts to letting his lawyers use strong arm tactics instead.