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Saturday 13 February 2016

Daily Mail Human Rights Hypocrisy

This morning, the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre are in their element, ranting about the subject that keeps them in the style to which they have become accustomed, while frightening their readers witless because Criminals and Scary Muslims (tm) are coming to get them with the Government and EU’s connivance. Yes, Human Rights is the name of the game. And it’s not fair!
The headline “POLICE: WE WON’T NAME FUGITIVESis explained in the Mail’s own inimitable fashion: “identities of suspected killers and rapists on the run are kept secret, and you guessed, it's because of human rights”. So what is going on? “Forces use Data Protection Act and human rights laws to stop publication”. And how did this come to light? “Refusals emerged from FOI requests submitted by the Daily Mail”.

So what is the Mail up to? “The refusals emerged from Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Daily Mail to the UK's 45 police forces, asking for the number of suspects classed as 'wanted'. A further question requested the names, photos and details of the ten suspects who had been on the run for the longest time in their force areas … These could include those who jumped bail after arrest or during court proceedings. But 21 forces refused to give the names on privacy grounds”. Well, tough titty, Dacre doggies.

The article concludes by helpfully explaining “The refusals come amid a row over the FoI Act, which Whitehall wants to dilute by allowing more exemptions, and charging for requests. But there is a growing backlash against the plans after it emerged that town halls and NHS trusts had united in a ‘sinister’ bid to crush the public’s right to know”.

All of which sounds most public spirited. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the Mail has, as so often, been playing both sides of the field on Human Rights laws, as the excellent Inforrm’s Blog has noted. Under the headline “Daily Mail loses Human Rights Act challenge to CFA success fees and insurance premiums” we see that the Mail has been trying to use the HRA for its own advantage.

As the post explains, “In a judgment delivered at the High Court today in the case of Miller v Associated Newspapers, Mr Justice Mitting rejected a Human Rights Act challenge to recoverable success fees and ATE insurance premiums brought by the Daily Mail”. Andy Miller won his libel case against the Mail in 2012: the paper, or rather its parent company Associated Newspapers, was left with a legal bill ultimately estimated at £3 million.

The Mail was arguing that “the award of additional liabilities to the Claimant [Miller] would be incompatible with the Defendant’s [Mail] right of expression as a publisher under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights”. But the Judge rejected the Mail’s arguments. The post goes on to note “A number of commentators on have drawn attention to the apparent inconsistency of the Daily Mail - known for its strong and principled opposition to the Human Rights Act - relying on the Act to attack a piece of costs legislation enacted by the sovereign British parliament”. Quite.

Human Rights: bad when the Mail says so, but when the readers aren’t looking, those rights become A Very Good Thing that the paper relies on in court to try and swing judgments its way. What a complete and absolute shower of stinking hypocrisy.

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