Supreme Court upholds right of classical pianist to tell compelling story of child sex abuse

An attempt to ban a book by a classical pianist James Rhodes where he revealed how he overcome his childhood trauma of  sexual abuse through music has been comprehensively overturned by the Supreme Court.

The findings and the judgement are reported in detail on the excellent Inforrm blog site here

The decision overturns what will be seen as a rogue judgement by the Court of Appeal which allowed his former wife to ban publication of the book because it could cause distress and damage to the author’s son. This extraordinary judgement has been report on this site earlier.

Dan Tench, of the law firm, Olswang, writes on the :

“The Supreme Court handed down today its judgment in OPO v MLA ([2015] UKSC 32), the case in which the Court of Appeal had – extraordinarily – granted an injunction to prevent the publication of a book solely on the ground that it might cause psychological harm to the author’s son. In a compelling and comprehensive judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and discharged the injunction.

The Court clarified the tort of intentionally inflicting mental suffering, gave a powerful reminder of the importance of freedom of expression, provided important guidance on the form of injunctive relief and abolished imputations of an intention by operation of a rule of law.”

He concludes:

” The judgement is also notable for including substantial extracts from the book, perhaps the most startling and vivid prose to appear in a Supreme Court judgement.  This material gives a strong insight into the power of the book and it is plain that the judges held it in high regard (although that was no part of their reasoning).  The Court recognised that the book used “brutal language” and “dark descriptions” and confirmed previous authority that the “right to convey information carries with it a right to choose the language in which it is expressed”.

This is a powerful, authoritative and humane decision from a Supreme Court at the top of its game.  Like all the best judgements, when one has finished reading it one concludes that the law could be only this, a welcome answer to the difficulties to which the decision from the Court of Appeal gave rise.”

I thoroughly concur. Survivors everywhere should welcome this decision by the highest court in the land. They should also note that one of the judges who made this decision was Lady Hale, one of the people who sadly turned down the offer to chair the statutory inquiry into child sex abuse after it was made clear that the Lord Chief Justice did not want any sitting judges from the UK chairing the inquiry. It may be a sad loss given what this judgement concluded.

POSTCRIPT: James Rhodes is launching his book at the Hays Literary Festival on Saturday May 23 (tomorrow). the link is 

Government’s barmy and complex plan to tackle defamation on the web

The Ministry of Justice has just excelled itself with a daft plan to try and tackle libellous and abusive comments on websites.
A splendid blog on the Inforrm website by media lawyer Ashley Hurst from Olswang reveals that a so-called simple system to provide redress to force web operators to take down posts is anything but that.
As he himself states the ministry claimed it “designed to be as straightforward as possible for people to use” but there are in excess of 20 cross-references in a procedure spanning over four pages with 47 FAQs and 10 pages of guidance.”
Worse it looks as though it will do the opposite that it intends by encouraging more people to blog anonymously as people might have to get court orders to find out who is behind the post.
He points out “People blog and comment on websites anonymously for a reason: because they do not want to be identified. Why would an anonymous blogger suddenly identify himself without a court order because a website operator tells him that a legal complaint has been received? There is absolutely no incentive, especially for a whistleblower, someone intent on causing damage, or someone who cannot afford to be sued, to come forward and identify themself voluntarily as a potential defendant.”
There is also a 48 hour fast track application to get someone’s post down – but make one mistake in the form and web operator can ignore. I can’t imagine WordPress, based in the US with a tradition of free speech, being over impressed by these new UK regulations.
For those who want to study it further he supplies a flow diagram, which almost rates in complexity ( but not quite) with Andrew Lansley’s re-organisation of the NHS.
In my view the planned regulations look hardly worth the paper they are written on. They seem a waste of cyberspace.