How will the supposedly uncensorable wikileakS.org project survive its first acknowledged attempt to censor it through legal system threats ?
Apparently wikileakS.org have now received a threatening email (or perhaps a letter ?) from Schillings, an expensive London based firm of lawyers and public relations consultants, often used by minor media celebrities to defend alleged libels in the mainstream broadcast media and in print.
Although claiming expertise in dealing with the internet, they have been spectacularly counterproductive in trying to suppress former UK Ambassador to Uzbekisatan, Craig Murray's allegations about Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek born Russian billionaire supporter of the Putin regime in Moscow, allegedly with links to the brutal, corrupt dictatorial regime of Islam Karimov and family in Uzbekistan.
Schillings shyster threats even managed to cause "collateral damage" to blogs and websites, which had never mentioned the Usmanov affair before, and to infuriate hundreds and thousands of people who had never heard of their client before.
Unlike the Usmanov affair, where no actual court order was involved, this time Schillings do seem to have applied for an Injunction of some sort issued in the High Court in London.
This is in relation to a copy of some information which the failing Northern Rock bank issued to potential buyers, which revealed the extent of the UK Government emergency debt guarantees.
Schillings claim, in their letter to Wikieaks, that
"Pursuant to an Order of the Royal Courts of Justice dated 13th November 2007 ("the Order") no person shall publish or communicate or disclose to any other person (other than by way of disclosure to legal advisers instructed in relation to the proceedings for the purpose of obtaining legal advice), inter alia, the information contained within the "Northern Rock Executive Summary".
The Order also provides that any person who knows of the Order and disobeys it or does anything which helps or
permits any person to whom the Order applies to breach
the terms of the Order may be held to be in contempt of
court and may be imprisoned, fined or have their assets
...Furthermore, publication of the Northern Rock Executive Summary constitutes a copyright infringement.
We are willing to bet that those are not the actual words in the High Court Order, only Schillings' vested financial interest, partisan, over broad, claimed interpretation of the Order.
See the alleged document at
but do not be stupid enough to expect to find this document here on this wikileak.org blog.
The deadline for the offer of sale of Northern Rock plc expired last Friday, and most of the board of Directors resigned. There there was an Emergency Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the House of Commons on Monday, regarding this affair. so who and what this legal censorship is supposed to be protecting now is unclear.
The injunction was aimed originally at the Financial Times, but a further attempted injunction against the Daily Telegraph appears to have failed.
Why is Northern Rock continuing to waste public money (they have borrowed tens of billions of pounds from the UK Government) on Schillings' legal fees, in pursuit of a document which is common knowledge in the financial industry, and is now out of date and irrelevant to any future takeover or rescue plan ?
Will wikileakS.org or their internet service providers, succumb to the shyster threats from Schillings, even though, so far as we can tell the wikileakS.org website is not within the jurisdiction of a UK court.
One of the ethical issues surrounding the leaking of documents which are subject Court injunctions, especially under the draconian UK legal system, is the secrecy which surrounds them. How are, say, bloggers, meant to magically guess that a particular document is subject to any legal restrictions ?
There is no simple way of discovering exactly what is actually injunctions or contempt of court reporting restrictions - they are not even listed on the Her Majesty's Courts Service website, or the British and Irish Legal Information Institute for instance.
We will be checking our webserver logfiles for visits from the Schillings IP address range of 18.104.22.168 to 22.214.171.124