All posts by Simon Pipe

I'm a freelance journalist, copywriter, and creative; I also teach journalism part-time at university. I was a senior broadcast journalist at the BBC and a reporter, sub-editor and feature writer on newspapers before that. I run St Helena Online, a news website about the remote British island in the South Atlantic, at I like running.

Contempt case ‘yields £2m’ for jailed Robinson

Tommy Robinson’s arrest for contempt of court “was artfully turned into a combination of free speech debate, political campaign and donation drive that netted him around £2m in donations,” reported the Independent website. It also noted how the far-right was able to exploit the lack of regulation of social media (something British ministers promised to change in February 2019). Read the article here.



Libel case lawyers probe far-right cash – article

Lawyers suing the far-right agitator Tommy Robinson aimed to use a libel case against him to unmask his finances, reported the Independent website. They were acting on behalf of a Syrian teenager who was denounced by Robinson after video showed the boy being bullied. The website also notes how far-right activists had grabbed media attention by pressing their right to free speech. Read the piece here.


Melania writer sues over paper’s ‘libelous’ apology

An American journalist issued the Daily Telegraph with a writ for libel after it published a lengthy apology for “errors” in her article about Melania Trump. Nina Burleigh’s writ accused the Telegraph Media Group of “capitulating abjectly” to a legal threat from a lawyer known as a “slayer”, and had wrongly turned her into “a poster girl for fake news”.

The writ detailed how the paper apologised – without consulting her – for statements the article did not contain, and for fact-checked and well-sourced material. It gave a detailed breakdown showing how the apology allegedly misquoted the original article.

Read the writ here.

Unbalanced: radio host’s ‘mental hospital’ jibes

Talkradio host George Galloway earned a heavy rebuke for a “biased and unbalanced” show on the Salisbury poisoning affair. Ofcom found “serious breaches” of the broadcasting code. People who disagreed with his “dissident” views were dismissed as inmates of Broadmoor Hospital, which houses criminals with mental illness. Ofcom said Galloway’s fame as a radical did not exempt it from having to achieve due impartiality. Read more.

GDPR ‘no reason to withhold court lists’

Journalists protested when some courts announced they would no longer supply the media with lists of cases that were due to be heard – including charges and details of defendants – because of the General Data Protection Regulation. The Ministry of Justice quickly corrected the “misunderstanding”. Read more.

Media law trainer David Banks wrote a provocative blog post on the affair, in which he also asked why the lists are not available to the public.

Brexit bodies told how to evade FoI requests

The government apparently advised public bodies how to evade Freedom of Information  (FoI) questions relating to preparations for a no-deal Brexit, according to a leaked document. It said bodies should “neither confirm nor deny” having plans in place, because one organisation giving information could undermine government negotiations.

Read more.

Note: there are “qualified exemptions” to the FoI act that mean information may not have to be released. This will be on a case-by-case judgment and if appealed, the Information Commissioner may or may not agree.

Actor faces court: ‘I retweeted something’

A star of the TV show Shameless put out Facebook pleas for free legal help after being summoned to the High Court, apparently in relation to an image of the killer Jon Venables that circulated on social media. An injunction makes it a serious crime to publish images of Venables, who killed toddler Jamie Bulger when he was ten years old. See the Liverpool Echo story here.