Tuesday, 13 October 2009


About 16 hours prior to me writing this, the Guardian announced that for the first time in memory, a newspaper had been prevented from reporting on a political question being raised in Parliament. The article, which can be found here, announces:

"Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. 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 Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret."

Unfortunately for the parties involved in the legal gagging, the Guardian were allowed to mention the name Carter-Ruck, the legal organisation involved. A quick browse of the Wikipedia page immediately unveils the company involved: Trafigura.

For those that don't know, Trafigura are the company involved in the dumping of toxic waste just off the Ivory Coast, resulting to injuries to at least 100,000 West African citizens.

The public took to Twitter in protest, supported by a huge number of celebrities.

Within the last hour or so, the gagging order has been lifted on the Guardian, but it is certainly debatable whether less damage would have been done if the company had simply allowed the free speech of the press in the first place.

However, the result still stands as an important day for democracy, and those involved should be very proud of themselves. They may have just changed history today.


  1. 38 Degrees are currently running a campaign on this. Take action now by emailing your MP and asking them to take a stand to stop this happening again in the future. Take action now, it only takes 2 mins. Go to:


  2. Thanks for that, I will tweet this.