25 Nov 2009

Mariah Carey ... The biggest diva in town!

I was reading The Sun newspaper this morning and flicking through the pages as i do every morning i came across the funniest story i have read in weeks!

The NIB or news in brief was found on page 3 describing how the famous singer Mariah Carey needed help to sit down while being interviewed for the ITV breakfast show GMTV!!! Now as i was reading this my mind aced with many thoughts of if she hurt herself; broken leg, arm, cut or bruises, yet nothing could prepare my sides for the amount of laughter i was about to put them through.

The whole story was that Carey had her aides help her sit on the sofa so that she did not crease her dress! *laughs while shaking my head in disbelief* Yes everyone i did say what you think i said, your eyes are not deceiving you.

GMTV presenter Kate Garraway revealed the extraordinary behind the scenes story, she also told The Sun how Miss Carey had to be filmed from her best angle and even brought her own toilet roll. As i continued to read the story my laughter continued. This is GMTV. One of ITV's biggest shows and celebrities believe what? ... They the bosses would use tracing paper as a substitute for quality toilet paper?

DIVAS! YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE ... this is the 21st century!!!! Nearly everywhere has quality toilet paper, why do you need to bring your own? If i had seen that i wouldn't of been able to resist myself not asking her why she carried her own. Does it has "M C " designed on the front of it so it can only be used exclusively by her? Maybe, maybe not. Yet  still think it is funny speculating if she does or not.

But going back to the creased dress? Why are so many celebrities becoming increasing obsessed about looking perfect? Do they not understand that perfect doesn't exist? This makes me think about Kate Moss and her motto of keeping slim is better then eating. Why are we trying to emulate these stars? They are not doing anything for our self-esteem or our confidence in being ourselves.

From now on laugh at these silly actions by so-called divas. In my opinion these actions are pathetic and they should be sitting there hanging their heads in shame.

24 Nov 2009


A Labour government brought in the Freedom of Information Act when they came in to power to give people the legal “right to know”. It became LAW in JANUARY 2005 giving people the right to require many “public authorities” to disclose information. It is made so that no financial charge is imposed on finding this information – HOWEVER there are conditions to this which i will say later on. The Act makes it easier for journalists and researchers to find out evidence and facts.

Well... as an up and coming journalist; that makes me smile loads!! Especially if i need to find out some interesting facts regarding an investigative article i am writing.

Many major and minor bodies are caused by the FOI act including; armed forces, national government departments, House of Commons, House of Lords, universities plus loads more. The UK’s security services including MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are exempt from responding to enquiries and requests from the public using the FOI; courts, tribunals, housing associations and charities are also exempt from request via the FOI act.

The Act works by a request being made by an individual to a public authority. They then have 20 days to respond by either supply the requested information or by responding the reason as to why it can’t be given.

This could be because:

1. They don’t hold the information

2. The request would exceed the cost limits for the provision of the information

3. Information requested is covered in some way by exemptions under the act

The Act requires authorities to offer ‘advice and assistance’ to anyone requesting via the FOI act, but sometimes they do not help journalists or individual people. The Act also says that under it the authority can’t deny the information if they have it because of what the story may be about. There are costs to requesting information in certain circumstances; it is free if it is less than £600 when contacting national governments and £450 with local councils and police forces etc. If a payment is necessary then the authorities can supply the information still if the requester agrees.
As i have mentioned there are exemptions to the act. Absolute exemptions mean the authority do not have to tell you why the information isn’t available, only that it can’t be obtained. These include:

SECTION 21 - information accessible by other means and not the FOI

SECTION 23 - information supplied by the security services like MI5 or MI6 and dealing with security matters

SECTION 32 - court records i.e. documents used in cases

SECTION 40 - personal information

SECTION 41 - information provided to the authority in confidence by another party

SECTION 44 – information the disclosure of which is forbidden by other laws

If the information is not supplied within the 20 days limit then the requester can ask for an ‘internal’ review to see why a failure happened.

Weaknesses in the Act

• No statutory timescale for the internal review to be completed

• No timescale for the public interest test to be done

COPYRIGHT LECTURE - its powerful stuff!

Copyright is a law created to protect individual people’s property whether it is made or created from the skill, time or labour. A famous example is music made by a particular artist; once originally done by them it cannot be re-made and sold as someone else’s hard work – UNLESS the original creator has given consent.

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (copyright act) protects any:

• Literary

• Dramatic

• Artistic

• Music work

• Sound recording

• Film

• Broadcast

• Typographical arrangement

All of the above includes photographs taken by an individual and any graphics made; although COPYRIGHT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE REGISTERED. It is said in order to be protected by Copyright it must past the test of originality; in the past slogans and catch-phrases have not been awarded protection because they are too trivial.

Copyright in News Stories

There is NO copyright in facts, information, news or ideas used in news stories; EXCEPT for the creation, placement and way the story is formed because that constitutes an individual putting their own time, effort, skill and labour in to producing it in that particular way. Also lifting quotes from other news stories can be an infringement of copyright for the same reason. If people send in letters etc they allow the newspaper the right to print them however and whenever they wish but only once! But the original owner keeps the copyright license.

In television it works slightly different. As a journalist things like copyright can be a powerful tool to cripple your career. There is so much that i didn’t know when i began reading up on copyright and when i got to the end i had to re-think certain articles i have written myself, especially when i read the excerpt about you could still be infringing copyright if you use quotes. Any television images that are published without permission, whether they are whole or substantial amount of the photo is still infringing on section 17 of the Copyright Act.

Broadcasting Act 1990 states if someone provides a broadcast service they must make any information about the programme to any newspaper or magazine published through a licensing scheme. If there are any problems that Copyright Tribunal decides on the matter. The Copyright Act also extends to spoken words even it not in scripts as soon as they are recorded. Photographs from social networking sites can be obtained very easily, because of downloading accessibility and the infringement of copyright is still able to happen from the website and person who uploaded the photo on the site.

Defence of Fair Dealing

You can use copyrighted work for the purpose of reporting current event as long as you attribute the author. There is no defence of fair dealing when it comes to photographs. A court would be entitled to refuse to enforce copyright if the works was:

1. Immoral, scandalous, or contrary to family life;

2. Injurious to public life, public health, or safety, or the administration of justice;

3. Incited or encourages others to act in a way injurious to those matters

There is copyright in the layout of newspapers and magazines because the typographical arrangement used by individual companies. However in 2001 The House of Lords rules that a cutting out of an article from a newspaper is not copyright. All types of copyrighted material has a length to it, once this has expired the copyright will be ended. Written copyright is 70 years AFTER the death of the author; whereas broadcasted material is AFTER 50 years.

Criminal convictions are not normally given to journalistic activity and more on video piracy. Although, in 2008 the government began talks to increase the criminal penalties of infringing copyrighted material and extending the maximum fine a magistrate’s court can impose to £50,000. The easiest way and the most common in the UK today of copyright is illegal downloading of music using software such as Limewire. Millions of people have done it and are probably still downloading music in this way, but the last few years the law has begun to close the net on these people who copyright music because it is cheaper than buying the CD.

I can understand why copyright against artists in the music business is bad because they lose money as people are not buying the CD’s as thus they can’t take a portion of that money for themselves. I am not going to sit here and tell you if i have illegally downloaded music ... because quite frankly that is silly! But i will say that for those who use Limewire ... be careful. One question i will leave you with comes from a rumour i heard a year or two back in where the police, artists music company and Internet Services Providers are teaming up to track exactly how you get your music... Are you being watched?

17 Nov 2009


Today’s lecture we mainly focussed on investigative journalism – as the class began there was only two of and we were asked what we believed investigative journalism meant. At this point i began to kick myself very hard (this is figuratively speaking of course but if i could of actually kicked myself i would of done) because before the lecture begun i looked up what we would be drawing upon in the lecture form the core site, and i had read exactly what it meant. Yet ... when it came to the crunch i clammed up, my mind went blank and i choked. Fortunately for me i redeemed myself by coming up with what i thought it meant by sheer “winging it” and of course racking my brain to try and remember what it had read less than 2 minutes previously... Thank god; because it worked!!

The definition from De Burgh is: “discover the truth and to identify lapses from it in whatever media maybe available … distinct from apparently similar work done by police, lawyers, auditors and regulatory bodies in that it is not limited as to target, not legally founded and it is closely connected to publicity”.

I roughly said that investigative journalism is stories that are off the agenda and are not the ‘ordinary stories’ that you would necessarily find in newspapers or broadcast bulletins. I was right, ish ... but that was good enough for me. Chris continued to tell us (as more people filtered in to the lecture) that these type of stories usually came from tip off’s from sources – but what was interesting is that i always believed that investigative journalism focused on the hard hitting, extraordinary stories that once broke would unleash havoc on those who read it because it was truly a shocking story. But i was wrong! And i gladly admit that. They can also take the form of things like a story about fashion but the different between normal news stories is that the journalist initialises the story. To fully understand it think like this ... it’s similar to a news feature: you have a story, you have the leg, you research it and after all the interviews you deliver it. Many of IJ (investigative journalism) stories come from financial corruption including fraud, money laundering and drug/human trafficking. But as i have mentioned above some could be light weight pieces including examining the rubbish bin of Ton Cruise.

We than begun to talk about the huge Emile Zola and the Dreyfus case that rocked France in 1898. On Thursday 13th January 1898 Emile Zola wrote an article for a Paris literary newspaper called “L’Aurore” or The Down translated in to English. The article was on the miscarriage of justice against Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who was convicted of treason in 1895 against France. Dreyfus, who was a French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish decent, he was accused of having communicated military secrets to the German Embassy. He was sentenced to life in prison and sent to the penal colony at Devil’s Island in French Guiana where he was placed in solitary confinement ... until Emile stepped in and saved his life.

Even after new evidence emerged two years later in 1896 accusing French Army major Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy as the real culprit of the crime, the evidence was suppressed by the French government because the man was a high ranking military official and he was later acquitted. Dreyfus continued to stay on Devil’s Island until Emile Stepped in and saved his life with his article “J’accuse”; which was published on 13th January 1898 on the front page. The article was in the format of an open letter to the president at the time Felix Faure and he accused the French Army of perjury and anti-Semitism by wrongfully convicting the Jewish captain of treason.

In the article of which made Zola famously known as “The Father of Investigative Journalism”, he declared that the evidence against Dreyfus was falsified. Zola was accused of criminal libel on 7th February 1898 and was convicted on the 23rd of the same month. He was later removed from the Legion of Honour; at this point he fled to England rather than being jailed. After a little time he returned to watch the fall of the government in France. Dreyfus was never exonerated for treason but was given a pardon by the French government which he chose to accept; even though accepting the pardon meant he was admitting his guilt and could therefore be re-trialled. The case successfully ended in 1906 when the Supreme Court completely exonerated Dreyfus of treason.

Investigative Journalism was the only reason that Dreyfus’ case was heard by those in France at the time. Many of the people in government did not want to hear that high ranking officials were committing treason and others were covering up the scandal – did they believe that admitting the betrayal to the country would mean the country would turn their backs on them? ... Isn’t that what half the country did anyway?

Investigative journalism doesn’t always cover stories like a miscarriage of justice, but large stories with huge scandal need further investigation, which sometimes does take the form of posing as someone else in order to get information. An example is the journalist who enrolled as a police officer in Manchester to try and uncover bullying and racism in the lower ranks. The Secret Policeman (BBC) - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3210614.stm was a very heavy story that focused on infiltrating the police force to investigate corruptness. If you would like to see what happened please click on the link. Popular investigative journalism stories nowadays include the organisation called The Innocence Project, where law and journalism students work on cases of miscarriages of justice – there are currently more than 70 cases being worked upon with a few being sent back to the courts from an appeal.

The lecture then started to discuss “The Watergate Scandal” which exposed political manipulation in the Forth State as. The whole scandal formed because two reporters found evidence that a “burglary” in the Watergate shopping centre was staged so that President Nixon could bug his rivals campaign office and he knew about it all, the journalists got a tip off about it and set out investigating to find evidence; which they did.

Washington Post staff Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward read the headline on the post on Sunday June 18th 1972 stating “Five held in Plot to Bug Democratic Offices”. They believe that this was a cover up and started investigating, where they found that things were not as they first seemed. They reported that $25,000 check that was supposed to be for President Nixon’s re-election campaign had been deposited into one of the Watergate burglar’s account. The tip off came from someone they called “Deep Throat”, it was later shown that Mark Felt a high ranking official at the FBI was the confidential source; they promised to keep his identity secret. The real name only came out 33 years later in 2005 and the world found out the true identity of Deep Throat.

The two reporters found evidence that Nixon knew and order the people to break into their rival’s campaign office to plant bugs for him, during this time Nixon recorded all of his conversations (at the time not known by the reporters). Chris Horrie then went on to explain that during a night of talking when the two journalists thought they had no other options a cleaner told them that Nixon recorded all of his conversations... and their-in laid the evidence that The Post needed to break the scandal. However Nixon refused to admit about the tapes and had them destroyed to cover his own means and motives. In 1974 Nixon said that he had made mistakes but did not break any laws, he said he had no prior knowledge of the burglary and did not know about the cover up until early 1973. He continued to say that releasing the tapes would harm future chief executives http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/watergate/part3.html

On July 24th 1974 the Supreme Court ordered the White House to hand over the tapes to the special prosecutor conducting investigations in to the scandal. When Nixon released the tapes a week later, it showed a conversation on 23rd June 1972 showing that Nixon HAD (contrary to his constant appeals that he was innocent) played a direct role in the cover up of the Watergate Affair since the beginning. The tapes became known as “the smoking gun” tape. The announcement of this tape ripped apart the last remaining support Nixon ever had and he faced being thrown out of his presidency if he didn’t resign. On 8th August 1974 President Nixon resigned. The last speech he said to staff at the White house said this: “Those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself”.

Vice president Gerald Ford was sworn in to office on 9th August 1974 and a month later he gave a full pardon to former president Nixon for all crimes “committed or may have committed” during his reign in the White House. Although the affair was over, the influence was not. Many people in society felt betrayed by the government in America over their cover up. The scandal appointment special prosecutors to look into all allegations of presidential wrongdoings, the Watergate Affair changed the way America was forever.

It became noticeable when Chris took us through the Daily Mail’s publishing of article accusing 5 men of murdering Steven Lawrence (even though they had been found not guilty at court) that the government can be incompetent when prosecuting. After the trial of these 5 men the Mail’s front page stated “MURDERERS” – this was a comment by the Mail as they followed by saying “The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue.” This was significant because criminal law and civil law is completely different!! It forms a GAP and this is what the newspaper used. The newspaper would have been held for libel if the accused had sued but they didn’t. Why??

Well we found out the reason why... Criminal law standards are set out that any one accused need to be proved they are guilty “beyond reasonable doubt” BUT civil laws standard is “balance of probability”. This means ... that even though the evidence used at court was not able to prove the 5 accused of murder, in civil law it would have. So if they sued the newspaper it would go to court and all the newspaper would have to prove is they are murderers on “the balance of probability”.

However there is such a thing as DOUBLE JEOPARDY. This is when someone cannot be trialled for the same crime twice. However Jack Straw abolished part of this in certain cases because since DOUBLE JEOPARDY was firs brought into law things like the advancement of DNA can help cold cases from 20 years ago.

Also police can also help journalist to help them when they cannot prosecute criminals. As i have said criminal cases have to be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. An example is a police officer cannot prosecute a bugler because lack of evidence to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” So he could call a journalist – they can do an investigative piece of the string of burglaries and if the person wants to sue the paper they can. But then it becomes a civil matter and the parameters for prosecuting in criminal cases are on the “balance of probability”. So if the newspaper went to court because the accused sued, the newspaper could use the same evidence the police officer did and prove the accused is guilty of what they said they would.

8 Nov 2009

Confidentiality, Privacy Secrets and Secrecy – lecture notes

Breach of confidence and secrecy

• State secrets – affects investigative journalism and reports from armed forces communities = Official Secrets Act

• Commercial secrets – affects health stories, B2B and investigative journalism = Common Law Confidentiality

• Privacy – affects tabloid news and celebrities lives = Privacy Law article 8 of Human Rights Act “family life”

Official Secrets Act

There is public information in society that cannot be published because of the “official secrets act” including information of military or intelligence operations in the Armed Forces. The Official Secrets Act 1911 can lead to a criminal prosecution if broken. The OSA can be broken by accident for example taking wallpaper shots of military bases etc which have been covered by the OSA – there will usually be a notice posted up stating that the area is that in military power (it is like a defamatory statement because of the danger of someone dangerous finding out).

Another accidental breaking of the OSA is if radio or television stations broadcasted that wives and families were happy that their loves ones were returning home today. It could be a breach of the OSA because it could give away the position of a large number of soldiers at any one time. This could be dangerous for those who want to hurt military personnel. – If you want to publish something like this check with the press office of the MOD to be 100% sure.

If you want to learn more on the official secrets act you can go to the website below


Common Law secrets / Confidentiality

Everyone in society has the right to keep secrets told by another person, so long as it is not against the interest of the public. They also have the right to tell others hoping they will not pass them on to other people. Sometimes this does not happen and secrets from one individual are passed on to another person by a person who was told by the original secret holder. There are some people in society that CANNOT pass on our secrets including doctors, lawyers, employee or a very close family member – if they do then they are “breaching our confidentiality”. This can result in a civil action for compensation.

Journalists want these secret – they are interesting, gobsmacking and strikingly great to read. Journalist can be involved in the crime of THIRD PARTY breach of confidence if we get someone to tell us secrets of someone else. If a person can persuade a judge a 3rd party breach of confidence is taking place then this can “gag” the press and stop the article being publish/broadcasted.

Breach of Confidence Defined

• Confidentiality = depends on the type of information on offer and the expectation of the person who is giving the secrets out to someone else.

You are in breach if:

a) If the information “has the necessary quality of confidence” (is important and not already known) & is not “tittle-tattle” (e.g. date of birth or place of birth)

b) Provided in “circumstance imposing an obligation” (when it is said with a professional such as a doctor or a talk with a boss as the other person thinks it is reasonable to keep the secret)

c) There is “no permission” to give

d) “Detriment” is likely to be caused to the person giving the information (this is when the person don’t have to prove they are being defamed they ONLY HAVE TO SHOW how they will be hurt e.g. losing their job).


Gagging clauses” in contracts of employment

If you are employed by a company you owe them a common law of “duty of confidence” – even if it is not specified in the contract you signed or agreed too. An employee needs trust in the people they have working for them to keep secrets otherwise doing business would be impossible. If someone has a gagging clause in their contract – they take a huge risk in speaking to journalist and giving out important information. This is why you are nearly always directed to press offices by employees. If people tell you confidential things then you must warn the speaker in the strongest possible way that as a journalist you will try your best to protect them as a source (NUJ code of conduct). But if they are identified there will be nothing a journalist can do.
Anything we tell a doctor is expected to stay a secret unless we say they can tell someone else or it can be used for education or medical research.

This doesn’t have to be in writing it can be made orally in the presence of a witness. Also lawyers are restricted to what they can tell other people while they have clients. If their client tells them they have murdered someone they know the lawyer cannot breach what is said to them – this is also the same as confession in front of a priest at Catholic churches. If someone confesses to a crime to a priest in the confession booth – they CANNOT tell anyone else because a part of their job is not to judge only god can do that and they feel that if justice is done it will be done naturally by god and end up in the courts.

Privacy – article 8 Human Rights Act (family life)

Personal secrets including that of regular people in society, their own privacy and that of celebrities is covered by a new “privacy law” that is being created by the Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – which protects the private and family life of people in society. A picture of someone doing something outrageous would be priceless to anyone in the media world. Article 8 states:
  1. Everyone has the righ to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society (a) in the interest of national security, public safety pr the economic well-being in the country, (b) for the prevention of disorder or crime, (c) for the prevention of health or morals or (d) for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Development in the Law:

• Until 2nd October 2000 the UK did not have any protection against their privacy – however...

• On this date the Human Rights Act 1998 came in to affect given people in society the right to privacy for themselves and family.

• Journalist suddenly became concerned because they feared the right to privacy would outweigh the right for them to publish article with the defence of public interest – but article 10 of the same act made judges consider the importance of freedom of expression

A photo of Simon Cowell in the nude would be put on the front page of a tabloid paper. Also a photo of a famous person on holiday with their children playing on a beach – would this be right to publish it? Isn’t it something that everyday people do? Is it because you’re a celebrity you give up your right to privacy? No. This is why the human Rights Act is becoming known around the world as the only way to keep your privacy in today’s society. You can publish the pictures if there is consent by that person and if there is public interest otherwise it is a breach of confidence.

Cases on privacy include:

Princess Caroline of Monaco – wanted her privacy kept from everyone in society but a newspaper published photos of her with her family on holidays and shopping.

Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglass – had an injunction put on Hello! magazine to stop them printing photos of their wedding after they sold the exclusive rights to OK! magazine.

Naomi Campbell – sued The Daily Mail because they published pictures of her at a drug rehab centre after they previously broke the story that she was addicted to Cocaine. She won her case because she said the pictures infringed on her privacy as she had the right to seek treatment in privacy for her addiction.

The Max Mosley case is VERY significant – he was caught acting out sadistic sexual fantasies with prostitutes. He didn’t deny his behaviour and a witness said the scene were that of an explicit reference to Nazi concentration. HOWEVER he said it was his own private affair and reporting them was a breach of his rights to privacy and normal family life.

Should celebrities have the right to privacy when they throw their lives in to the lime light? Take Katie Price and her family ... she has a show which follows her children around with her but what if she says that the media is denying her privacy for her private and family life? Should this be granted even if she has allowed a show to follow her and her family about most of their lives? ... You decide, i already know my answer to that question.

6 Nov 2009

Lecture on Qualified Privilege

Qualified Privilege

I was absent from the lecture but i have read the lecture notes from the website and done some further reading of my own and this is my take about QP.
All journalists have QP when reporting in parliament automatically qualifies for the defence when repeating, publishing or broadcasting defamatory remarks.
However it requires:
• Immediate publication

• No errors

• No malice
It should be fast, accurate and fair – malice is the lack of balance easy ways to cover this is using: “he denies the charges” “the case continues” “they refused to comment”.


QP is also available not only in parliament but in the following:

• Public events >> local governments meetings, pressure groups, AGMs of companies etc) – be sure to allow the defamed person to DENY the statements – as to make your piece balanced.

Using the 10 points from the Reynolds defence – PLUS the public interest defence then you MAY have QP in making a defamatory statement which isn’t quoting someone with Absolute privilege.

Qualified Privilege in Common Law

It rests on the idea of “the common convenience and welfare of society or in layman’s terms the public interest.

An example of QP in common law is if a lecturer was asked to write a statement about a student, if he wrote something bad or defamatory then if it was wrote without malice he would be covered by QP

Albert Reynolds vs The Sunday Times – the birth of the Reynolds defence
The case in as basic as possible is that The Sunday Times said that the Irish PM lied to the parliament so he could cover up the child abuse scandal surrounding the Catholic Church. The paper believed the rumours to be true, but they could never prove the allegations. But they published anyway. The case went to the High Court and it found in FAVOUR of the Sunday Times because they believe it had a “duty” to publish the story because it was in the interest of the public to know. From this the Reynolds defence was born in which it set out 10 points in which a journalist should follow – if they do then they can try and be protected under this defence. AS LONG AS THE REPORTER IS WORKING WITH NO MALICE.

1. The seriousness of the allegation –
The more serious the allegation the more protection given - no private or small allegations i.e. about celebrities will be protected

2. The nature of the information -
The extent the allegation is of public interest.

3. The source of the information -
The more authoritative the source is the more you are entitled to report the allegations – even if they can’t be proved. The test ... Would they have reason to lie to me???

Sources “on the record” are more protected then those anonymous sources.

4. The steps taken to verify the information -
There must be attempts made to verify information – try and put them to the accused to give them the time to respond – if they say no then you reply no comment as long as you have proof to show that you have taken steps to try and get an answer e.g. emails

5. The status of the information -
Need to make sure this is not an old allegation if it has already been dismissed it won’t have protection.
6. The urgency of the matter -
If the article is in much need i.e. if it is about corruption in political parties and its published the day before voting commences then other checks in the code may be less of an issue

7. Whether comment was sought from the claimant –
In the article you have to try and get the other side of the story – it can never be one sided or bias.
8. Whether the article contained the gist of what the claimant said as their side of the story –

9. The tone of the article –
The if the tone vicious then you are less likely to be protect – if it is along the lines of allegations of x has raised concerns over ... then it is not a malicious way to write an article.

10. The circumstances of the publication -
Includes the timing of the article. It should be contemporaneous and ASAP. If they are saved for the right time in the eyes of the publication then they could not be protected.

4 Nov 2009

The fight of a lifetime for parents of baby RB

When someone that you love gets seriously ill many of us find it hard to cope with the thought of losing a loved one, having to come to terms with that when the loved one is a child must be unbearable for the parents.

There is a case currently at the High Court where a one-year-old child’s life is hanging in the balance between life and death as his mother and father battle each other because both disagree over turning the life support machine off that is keeping baby RB alive (real name not disclosed for legal reason).

RB has congenital myasthenic syndrome which is a rare neuromuscular condition that severely limits the movement in his limbs and his ability to breathe independently.

The mother agrees with doctors that the ventilator should be switched off because the child has no quality of life. She believe that the “intolerable suffering experience by her son must outweigh her own personal grief should she lose her son”. But the father of RB, who is separated from the mother, opposed the plans. Lawyers for the father have argued that the baby’s condition does not affect the brain and that he can see, hear, feel and recognise his parents.

For any decent human being reading this story is painful enough, but think about what would you do in that situation? Would you consult the most experienced doctors in the world and for them to tell you that your son should be left to die in peace, or would you fight if you believed that him being able to see or hear you was proof enough that his life is worth saving? I found it very difficult too and i have no idea how these parents could even begin to think about a situation like that let alone go through it every day. I’m no expect in the medical field but i have always believe in dignity for those who are going to die, but on the other hand i also believe that if i child can do certain things that disability or no disability they should be able to fight as long as possible.

If the High Court rules in favour of the hospital and baby RB’s mother it would be the first time a British court has ruled against the wishes of a parent whose child is not suffering from brain damage.

This case however could be even more complicated on other levels such as the mothers decision comes before that of the fathers because they are separated. Many of us know that within law cases concerning a child, the mother has more priority – but in this case if the mother wins, could it be seen that the father’s right to save his son has been dismissed because the mother has more power within society’s law? Or on the other hand if the father wins, could it spell out some justice for fathers who do not have as much power in their children’s lives because the laws here in Britain are generally not ‘for’ fathers?

Baby RB’s father will submit footage which shows the child playing with toys, enjoying listening to music and interacting with his parents. The case continues at the High Court.

News stories from The Sun - 4th November

(picture from Daily Mail - baby Daniel and mother Paula)

I read an amazing story in The Sun this morning about pioneering medicine which freezes the umbilical cord and uses it to create replacement body parts if the child falls ill in the future. The unbelievable creation has been used for the first time ever; newborn baby Daniel Aspinall’s mother paid £1,890 to store the cord for 20 years at a private tissue bank in Nottingham.
The benefit of this outstanding treatment paves the way for medicine and science in pro-founding ways. The “bionic” umbilical cord as The Sun newspaper called it can be used to regenerate blood, bone, cartilage, muscle, tendons and immune systems. His mother Paula says the technology will be able to cure him of immobility if he becomes paralysed later in life; it can also be used to beat heart disease because it can regenerate the cells in the child’s heart and brain. The treatment which sounds out of this world could save millions of people around the world of crippling disease from child birth to adulthood. It is also said to be able to treat siblings and maybe parents too.
The umbilical cord is frozen by using liquid Nitrogen within 20 minutes of birth. The question that begins to beg in my mind is these:
• Could this technology be used in Siamese twins who need to be separate but at the cost of part of them losing vital muscles, tissue etc the body needs?

• The medicine which in itself has only just begun, what could it do for those types of families that have one healthy child but one very sick child, could the healthy child’s frozen cord help save the life of his sibling? If so could this be a major step forward in life saving medicine in Britain?

There is more information on the below sites about freezing the umbilical cord of a child after birth: