Coffee House

Why The Spectator will take no part in state licensing of the press

28 November 2012

1:01 PM

28 November 2012

1:01 PM

Lord Justice Leveson reports at 1.30pm tomorrow and David Cameron has blocked out 90 minutes in parliament to respond. The big question is this: will he introduce state licensing of the media? A group of 42 Tory MPs wants him to, and No.10 apparently thinks they will rebel if he doesn’t. But this would mean revoking Britain’s 317-year history of press freedom, and give Parliament power to set the parameters under which the press operates. If the state seeks to compel publications to join the government scheme, then they face a choice: sign up, or defy the new law. In tomorrow’s Spectator, we make our choice.

We say in our leading article that we would happily sign up to any new form of self-regulation which the industry proposes, no matter how onerous. But we would have no part in any regulatory structure mandated by the state. That is to say: we would not attend its meetings, pay its fines nor heed its menaces. To do so would simply betray everything that The Spectator has stood for since 1828.

I would say that we thought long and hard about this, but it wasn’t a tough decision. For anyone who works at The Spectator, it’s a no-brainer. In the basement of 22 Old Queen St lie our archives, showing how we have been implacably opposed to the principle of state regulation of the press — not because it protects the press, but because it protects the public. This is a distinction that leaders from Thomas Jefferson onwards have understood. In 1829, we lambasted the Sunday Times for putting press freedom at risk with sloppy libels. In 1833 we took aim at Lord Brougham, then Lord Chancellor, for doing what Nick Clegg is doing now: saying how much he admires the free press, while conspiring to undermine it with legislation. The canard of ‘statutory regulation’ was raised in parliament in 1952. ‘Everyone who really understands what freedom of the press means and cares about it,’ we argued, ‘must resist such a proposal to the uttermost’.


Given our long and consistent line, we at 22 Old Queen St felt The Spectator would be unable join any press regulatory scheme mandated by the government. It’s unclear what penalties would be imposed on those publications that refuse, on principle. As editor, I’d probably find out*.

Not, I stress, that I expect it to come to this. The more you consider the implications of statutory press regulation, the more unworkable it seems. Can you really regulate the press, but not the internet? And can you really draw a distinction, given that many newspapers will become digital-only in coming years? What happens to a new publication: does it apply for a license? What counts as a new publication? And what of the likes of Guido who are based abroad? And what impact would any of this have on the egregious hacking crimes which were described to Lord Leveson?

If the state grants itself power over the press now, for the first time since 1695, then power over digital would follow. It is technologically possible; China is the world leader. But until recently Britain was the world leader in the notion of press freedom, with a tradition dating back to Milton, and it’s high time these principles were reapplied for the digital age. Perhaps in the proposed Bill of Rights.

David Cameron is a friend of liberty but, more importantly, he’s a pragmatist. He knows that hacking is already illegal, and that statutory regulation would achieve nothing more than to crush liberties that have survived every one of his predecessors. It’s certainly something in which The Spectator could play no part.

*Update: Guido has mocked me an image of me behind bars, which my Spectator colleagues have printed out and stuck on my office door. It raises an interesting issue:  do the pro-regulation lobby really propose jailing conscientious objectors? Given that the editor is personally and legally responsible for a magazine’s contents and behaviour would the proposed ‘statutory regulation’ mean imprisoning journalistic refuseniks? To pay even a £100 fine would mean to accept the authority of a state regulator, which we objectors would not do. So what then? Perhaps, during the parliamentary debate tomorrow, we may find out.


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Show comments
  • Dale Amon


  • Dale Amon


  • Allen Patterson

    Well…Another country heard from ! Great article.

  • Maidmarrion

    If the media wasn’t such a self congratulatory clique and reported fairly and allowed for opinion other than their own,perhaps it would not have come to the point where measures, like an ombudsman, were being contemplated.

    I have found the press to be too interested in celebrity gossip and too fond of their own comfy seats – lazy journalism ,just sit there and opine – don’t do the research, don’t attend whatever event they wish to comment on and write whole articles about how dire the event was.
    Quite shameful really and in my view ,whatever comes out of Leveson has to be an improvement whether its the Irish model or some other restriction.
    I just can’t feel sorry for an arrogant and dismissive media .

  • Terry

    Clegg’s ‘liberalism’ amounts in practice to diktat, dictators and dictatorship. It’s he and his fellow travellers who need to be regulated by we, the people. When’s the next election?

  • Tubby_Isaacs

    And how on earth are you “personally and legally responsible”? Did you pay the fine for Liddle’s contempt of court? The costs arising from the Crooke article?


    Wouldn’t the obvious thing be to hold the company responsible?

  • Tubby_Isaacs

    “Update: Guido has mocked me an image of me behind bars, which my Spectator colleagues have printed out and stuck on my office door. It raises an interesting issue: do the pro-regulation lobby really propose jailing conscientious objectors?”

    Oh grow up. This is like all the “imprisoned for not paying the TV licence”. You’d be imprisoned for not paying a fine and thinking the law didn’t apply to you.

    Notice many imprisoned journos in Denmark and Sweden? And wasn’t Denmark a hero of yours when it printed those cartoons which the British press didn’t?

  • Sarah

    “we have been implacably opposed to the principle of state regulation of the press — not because it protects the press, but because it protects the public.”

    Psst, I think he means the boy ones.

  • Sarah

    “he know that hacking is lready illegal”

    How about spreading sexism and misogyny via a vast, powerful, unchallengable network of communication channels? Is that illegal?

  • Claire

    Well done Fraser.
    Let’s hope other newspapers and magazines have the balls to take a stand against this appalling infringement against our freedom.
    I’ll show my appreciation by taking out a subscription,and urge everyone who agrees to do the same.

  • David Lindsay

    Owned and published by a limited company.

    Called, of all things, The Spectator (1828) Ltd.

    But in the Spirit of 1828, we cannot be having any of that statutory regulation.

    Can we?

  • james higham

    Well done, Spectator. We shall be following suit.

  • MaxSceptic

    Well do, Fraser and all at the Speccie.

  • Carol-Ann

    I admire you Fraser. A free press is under attack like never before and we need people with courage to stand up and do the right thing for the long term. It is deeply shameful that some Tory MP’s back state regulating the press.

    I sincerely hope David Cameron does something worthy for once in his life tomorrow and rejects Leveson. Where are the politicians demanding free speech be enshrined in Law, like in the US? What Britain needs is a First Amendment.

  • Kevin

    Now, now, Fraser, you know the rules.

    The Spectator, like the City, should have a Wimbledon model: Britain provides the Web site on which the world’s best foreigners comment.

    So, off you go and let Mark Steyn show you how it is done.

  • Troika21

    Journalists are like Bankers; claiming that the freedoms that they have abused are necessary because otherwise all that other stuff that they sometimes deign to undertake would not happen.

    That said, financial services are one of the most heavily regulated activities in the economy, and that did nothing to stop them.

    • the viceroy’s gin


  • Tubby_Isaacs

    Fraser, nice evocation of China there.

    Wonder why you didn’t evoke Denmark or Ireland, who both have an Ombudsman? And which are both well above Britain in the Index of Press Freedom.

  • DavidDP

    I think it notable, and sad, that those flocking here to proclaim their opposition to this stance and in support of state control of the press do so either posing straw men (that somehow the Spectator is claiming that it need not obey any laws in pursuit of its goals) or personal abuse without merit.

  • Tubby_Isaacs

    “And what impact would any of this have on the egregious hacking crimes which were described by Lord Leveson?”

    Nice try. Leveson looked at press ethics, not just hacking. If you can’t see the distinction between the utter lack of ethics and how NI got away with it, you’re a moron.

    “And what of the likes of Guido who are based abroad?”

    He can carry on as he is. Trusted by 2%, wasn’t it?

  • Tubby_Isaacs

    Laughable, Fraser. It hasn’t happened yet, so your clickbait rubbish means sod all.

    “If the state grants itself power over the press now, for the first time since 1695, then power over digital would follow.”

    Utter drivel.

    And it’s not the “state”- it’s an independent regulator.

    • eeore

      And accountable to whom?

      • Tubby_Isaacs

        Who are the courts accountable to?

        • eeore

          The magistrates connected to the crown court, the crown court’s connected the high court, the high court’s connected to the court of appeals, now hear the word of the Lord.

  • seacole not dole

    just think of all those ‘snouts-in-the-trough’ MPs who would’ve got away with it, or think of all newspapers being in love with big government and state control (national socialism), no more than BBC clones with news about ‘cat stuck in tree’ or ‘man grows funny shaped vegetable…’

  • David Lindsay

    You are already in it. You are in the Parliamentary Lobby. Are you are also registered as a newspaper with the Post Office?

    • Tubby_Isaacs

      Excellent point, David.

      They might also find their political interviews drying up a bit.

  • michaelxxbrown

    I don’t get it. Does this mean you won’t be complying with laws on contempt of court, not identifying victims of sexual assault, inciting racial hatred, harassment, phone hacking, libel, privacy and the rest as well?

    • DavidDP

      Clearly not, if you read what is written. That’s the whole point – there are laws in place already which deal with most of the issues. That is sufficient, along with ensuring they are properly enforced. Statutory control of the press is not needed for that.

      • michaelxxbrown

        But those laws are statutory control of the press. What you are objecting to is more statutory control of the press. It may well be right that no more legislation is needed, but that is not an objection based on a principled opposition to state control.

        • DavidDP

          Those laws are statutory control of everyone. What I, along with the Spectator, am concerned about is a specific statutory regulation relating to press operations in the UK, and all that entails.
          That is indeed an objection based on principles oppostion of state control. Otherwise, you may as well argue that since private companies are also subject to such similar laws, they may as well be nationalised.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            That exists already. The BBC. Remember?

            The Speccie teenagers don’t. But then, they profit off it.

  • Michael990

    Fortunately there is plenty of long grass near by.

  • Anthony Miller

    State regulation will do nothing except make Britain an international laughing stock.
    Still, you have to ask who got us here…?

  • Anthony Miller

    I’m sure the government’s reply to a lack of cooperation with state regulation will be FINE.
    It is scarey though – Imagine the Spectator unable to run kiss and tells.

  • Christopher Mooney

    Or to paraphrase – you won’t accept independent regulation, as you work for a partisan, conservative publication, owner by the billionaire Barclay brothers, which supports political parties, and attacks/smears/slanders their rivals, in exchange for political favours, and favourable fiscal policies, for the companies ownership and shareholders

    • Jim

      Someone else said that four minutes ago.
      You missed ‘secretive’ from your list of Barclay brothers, are they perhaps ‘reclusive’ as well?

  • Christopher Mooney

    Or to paraphrase – you won’t abide by independent regulation as you’re a partisan, Conservative publication, owned by the billionaire Barclay Brothers, who support political parties, and attack/smear/slander their rivals, in return for favourable fiscal policies for the companies owners and shareholders

    • DavidDP

      Have you an example of the Spectator smearing and slandering? And, further, examples that would indicate a need for statutory regulation?

      • Diogenesthered

        ‘when assessments go wrong, as is inevitable, the headlines can be hideous. Tough love involves
        – Fraser Nelson

        So no access to independent regulation or access to the law there; suspicion alone is enough for the poor whilst no oversight whatsoever is more than adequate for those who espouse such views.

    • eeore

      How old are you ten?

  • eeore

    But how will we know if you are good to your word?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …neather you mind about his word!

  • Graham Mullan

    Liberties? What liberties? All the British press know about is how to take liberties. That includes the Spectator

  • Tim Gardner

    “we lambasted the Sunday Times for putting press freedom at risk with sloppy libels”

    Had there been a more proactive response from the industry itself to deal with the practices that have bought the press into disrepute then perhaps the Leveson Enquiry would not have been necessary!

  • MBoy

    Excellent. I look forward to seeing you marched into jail – which is exactly where elitists in the rich and powerful who think they are above the law of the land belong.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Unless of course they are rich and powerful Labour Party or Common Purpose elitists who are exempt even from resigning in shame.

      • Professor Plum

        Hurr durr I done read the Daily Mail

        • Colonel Mustard

          Actually I don’t. Which makes your snide slur as ridiculous as it sounds, but absolutely consistent with the moronic imbecility of the members of the party you clearly support.

          • eeore

            Colonel, I know you take an interest in such things.

            David Bell, the alleged King Pin of the Leveson ‘conspiracy’, have a look at his bio on the Leveson website:

            Now have a look at the list of people attending the Bilderberg group in 2012:

            Notice anything? (And no he is not there)

            • Colonel Mustard

              Can’t say I do at first glance. Please give me a hint, thanks!

              I do notice his connection to the Pearson Group which has just produced the rather odd UK education ranking and seems to supply our schools with a lot of “material”:-


              • eeore

                Rachman, Gideon – Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator, The Financial Times
                Micklethwait, John – Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
                Wolf, Martin H. Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times
                Bredow, Vendeline von Business Correspondent, The Economist
                Wooldridge, Adrian D. Foreign Correspondent, The Economist

                All over media had one representative.

                • eeore

                  Can’t find anything that says him attended the meetings, yet. Though there is plenty of stuff about Bilderberg wanting to regulate the internet.

                  But the Rothschld’s certainly are involved with the group – Lady de Rothschild apparently met her husband at a Bilderberg conference in 1998 in Scotland. Lady de Rothschild and David Bell are on the board of the Economist… and… Lynn Forester de Rothschild serves as a Trustee of the ERANDA Foundation (a Rothschild family foundation), that have funded the Media Standards Trust whose board members include Common Purpose Chairman Sir David Bell, Common Purpose CEO Julia Middleton, and Anthony Salz the executive vice chairman of a Rothschild charity.


                • eeore

                  And perhaps an indication of where this is going is to look at the new law in Australia that imposes a $1.1million fine for ‘misleading’ the public that price rises are connected to the newly created carbon tax. Which in turn has led to the creation of the Carbon Trading Consortium founded by Rothschild Australia and E3.

                  And it shouldn’t be overlooked that the fair and honest reporting, much talked about, would mean that denial of climate change would be forbidden, which in turn links to the claim that climate denial should be treated as a mental illness.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Thank you for that additional information and especially the link.

                  Interesting – and alarming. Resistance is futile – except that it’s not.

    • HJ777

      It’s very easy to get round state regulation of the press.

      Simply publish online from outside the UK.

  • Swiss Bob

    Grandstanding tosh.

  • Daviejohn

    Well done to The Spectator, I support your stand and your reasoning 100%. We would be throwing ourselves back to the dark ages.

  • EJ

    The Spectator has become little more than the uncritical, PR mouth-piece of Cameroonian-ism: the left-of-centre consensus of liberal, metropolitan bubble-dwellers.

    The ONLY publication that is still telling it like it is is The Daily Mail – and the liberal establishment are gunning for it with all the force at their disposal. When the Mail goes down, there will be no mainstream publication left in this country giving voice to the opinions and concerns of the Right.

    • Vulture

      Quite right, EJ – but I think you’ll find that the Guardian and the Independent which are both haemorrhaging money will go down long before the Mail does.
      I’ve got my invite to the Mail’s Xmas party on the mantelpiece where the wine flows like a Somerset flood – you would be amazed ( or perhaps you wouldn’t) at the number of Mail hating liberal lefties who turn up to partake of the filthy right-wing largesse. Admittedly, though, I’ve yet to see pretty Polly Toynbee there!

      • EJ

        Thanks for the insights Vulture! If you ever need a wing-man for a Daily Mail bash, look no further! I’d love to meet the likes of Heffer, Hitchens and Phillips to express in person my support and thanks to them for having the courage to stand up against the onslaught from the Left and give voice to what so many of us feel. And if you’re bored, check out the anti-Guardian rant from Pat Condell on youtube!

      • Tubby_Isaacs

        You might be a bit optimistic there. The Guardian is a good brand badly run. It got stupidly carried away with “world’s leading liberal voice” stuff, and carried on because it was cross subsidised. It needs to scale back its American operation, and accept that the New York Times and Washington Post will always beat it.

        A sensible tie up would save it.

    • Christopher Mooney

      I don’t think any educated person, reads or trusts the Daily Mail.

      It’s perfectly obvious that it’s an extreme, right wing, tabloid, that lies, misleads, and smears to lobby for a certain political ideology.

      It’s why Ronald Reagan rescinded the media fairness laws in the USA. He essentially legislated, so that media organisations could say controversial, dishonest things, without having to show any proof, or allow anyone targeted to have a right to reply.

      He did this to boost the industry. As he knew trashy, divisive, aggressive right wing media, sold.

      This is all the Daily Mail does.

      • HooksLaw

        Sadly true, about the Mail anyway. The Mail editor is a pal of Gordon Brown.

        I think re Reagan the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) itself wanted to abolish the fairness rules because they were not in fact conducive to free speech.
        ‘The intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned
        by the enforcement of [the Fairness Doctrine] restricts the journalistic
        freedom of broadcasters … [and] actually inhibits the presentation of
        controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the
        public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast
        Reagan vetoed a Congress attempt to stop it. the democrats have not reinstituted it.’

        I do not know which side of the argument you are on but the ‘fairness rules’ seem to be the sort of thing the Spectator is oh so worried about.

    • Tubby_Isaacs

      Do you ever read it?

      It’s full of hard right stuff Cameron wouldn’t touch.


      The Daily Mail in its big Common Purpose piece a couple of weeks ago exposed the wholly unacceptable position of Sir David Bell.
      Top honcho at Common Purpose, top honcho at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism of which the pressure group Hacked Off is an offshoot. Hacked Off then put Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan up to give the most publicised evidence in front of Leveson and who is sitting beside Leveson? Yes, Sir David Bell!
      Leveson seems not to care about this conflict of interest, didn’t vet his team with the rigour he wants to apply to the Press, and it is an absolute disgrace that the Press haven’t already discredited him and his report because of this.
      Once again, openness, integrity and transparency actually means continuing the march down the Leftwing road of totalitarianism where every institution is forced by the state to reshape itself and fit the Marxist mould.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “Can you really regulate the press, but not the internet?”

    Of course not. And that is the crux. It will be the thin edge of the very large wedge that with dog whistling, emotional blackmail and hefty dollops of the new victimology will be used to justify just that.

    I applaud the Spectator wholeheartedly for their stance and don’t give a hoot for the authoritarian wolves in conservative sheeps clothing bleating hereabouts.

    • telemachus

      Clap clap-Speccie would stand up wouldnt they

      The scandals have so far revealed the cosy and corrupt relationship between the media, politicians and the cops.

      The corporate media are happy to peddle the lies and distortions of the establishment while claiming to be on the side of ordinary people.

      Rather we need to confront the real power relations in our society.

      The Tory Mafiya forgot about how many meetings they had with Rupert Murdoch and his relatives. Senior journalists and police rotate on a rotten merry-go-round,
      fighting for and granting access and jobs.

      The Leveson Inquiry was only set up to calm the crisis over the phone hacking scandal.

      It has admirably fulfilled that purpose.

      But the bit of the inquiry into “unlawful practices within News International and other newspapers” simply hasn’t happened and may never happen.It certainly wont until all criminal proceedings relating to phone hacking and bribery charges have concluded.

      • The Crunge

        Wheras the left-wing media such as the BBC and the Guardian should be allowed to malign whoever and whenever they please provided they are innocent ex-Conservative treasurers or anybody else whose opinion wanders one scintilla to the right of the Labour party and its loathsome members. Or at least I think that is the message of the ill-informed semi-literate diatribe you have treated us to.

        • Tubby_Isaacs

          So The Guardian wouldn’t be bound by the independent regulator then?

          How does that work?

        • Andy

          The BBC badly needs to be broken up. It is a disgraceful monopoly.

        • telemachus

          The BBC are politically neutral by Charter

          It “exists to serve the public interest and to promote its public purposes: sustaining citizenship and civil society, promoting education and learning, stimulating creativity and cultural excellence…”

          When I listen to how Today and Newsnight lay into the middle of the road shadow cabinet I have no doubt that the BBC might lean a little to the right.

          However we, on balance find them a good thing

          • MikeBrighton

            I nearly fell off my chair laughing at this. Surely it’s irony?

            The BBC is culturally, institutionally and as a matter of policy left wing anti-Tory and anti-capitalist. Listen to what they say about themselves:

            “I do remember… the corridors of Broadcasting House were strewn with empty champagne bottles. I’ll always remember that”
            Jane Garvey BBC Five Live, May 10th, 2007, recalling May 2nd, 1997.

            “The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly funded, urban
            organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a
            party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal
            bias”, Andrew Marr the Daily Mail, Oct 21st, 2006.

            “We need to foster peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking.” Ben Stephenson BBC Drama Commissioning Controller, Guardian, July 16th 2009

            Look at Current events:
            Exhibit #1 Any episode of Question Time, where the audience sytematically boos and jeers any conservative or right wing opinion and Dimbelby continually interrupts any token “right winger”. The panel is usually 4-1 left to right.

            Exhibit #2 Lord McAlpine falsely smeared as a pedophile, in the words of Ali G – “is it ‘cos (he’s) a Thatcherite Tory”…er yes

            Exhibit #3 Any economics piece presented by “Two Eds” Stephanie Flanders or trotskyite Paul Mason

            • telemachus

              I too have anecdotes
              I recall the truly appalling treatment of Gordon Brown
              Arguably the BBC destroyed the last Government and as a corollary are responsible for the coalition
              They have singulrly week on week failed to call this shower to account

          • Baron

            telemachus, the wise: “The BBC are politically neutral by Charter……”

            Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha…..(almost to infinity for this must surely qualify as the joke of the millennium).

            • telemachus

              Remind me which political party had a chairman who was then given the BBC

      • DavidDP

        “The Tory Mafiya forgot about how many meetings they had with Rupert Murdoch and his relatives. ”
        So did Labour it appears. For example, when railing agains Murdoch in his pretty much single post-2010 parliamentary appearance, Gordon Brown forgot how his family threw Rebecca Brooks a birthday party.
        Any examination of such power relationships would need to start with the Labour party seeing as how they were in government for the years when these abuses apaprently took place.

        • telemachus

          The Labour PM’s did not take the antichrist to christmas dinner or ride her horse

          • MikeBrighton

            Yes but your beloved ex-Leader one Mr. Tony Blair was prepared to fly to Austrialia to attend a News International shindig and board meeting in 1995 to generally prostitute himself to Murdoch.

            Remind me who is godfather to one of Murdoch’s children?

            Remind me who attended a “Pyjama party” with Rebecca Brooks?

            Labour was in very deep with Murdoch and News International. To pretend otherwise is an utter falsehood

            • telemachus

              The relationship with the Labour party were open facts
              The relationship of the incestuous Chipping Norton set to each other was secret and incidious

              • MikeBrighton

                No it wasn’t, it mostly came out in testimony to Leverson. Labour is trying to make us believe that it had little to do with Murdoch. For those with eyes in the period of 1997 – 2008 can see that this was clearly not the case.

                • telemachus

                  Benign contact for background is different from getting into bed in the Cotswolds

      • Torontory

        Telemachus – I think your memory is becoming highly selective. Are you suggesting that Blair et al never tried to get close to Murdoch; I seem to remember a trip to Aus to speak at a Murdoch conference for example.
        Which government was in power when the hacking took place? Oh sorry, it must be the fault of Margaret Thatcher.

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      Second that and someone please have a word in the ear of the flaky LibDem leader now disgracefully wearing his ‘liberal’ principles on his sleeve.

      • The Crunge

        Well said Fraser my subscription to the Spectator is on its way. Can you imagine the press being subject to the will of malignant, dishonest and wicked people like Gordon Brown or Ed Balls? It would be the beginning of Stalinism in this country.

        • Tubby_Isaacs

          That’ll be why nobody’s suggesting Gordon Brown head the independent regulator then.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Well, the BBC has been “the beginning of Stalinism”, helped along by such as the Speccie teenagers who coddle them, but are now wondering why the scorpion they helped create is now stinging them.

          But yes, this latest would be a furtherance of what’s already occurred, as regards Stalinism.

    • Arden Forester

      “authoritarian wolves in conservative sheeps clothing”. Nicely put. Just about sums up Cameron.

  • Diogenesthered

    So much for the rule of law – if only I could tell ATOS I was not taking part in the WCA but I’m one of the ‘little people’

    • davy

      But you can. Just do what the media does and move overseas. ATOS can’t force you to do anything there,.

      • Diogenesthered

        The media haven’t moved overseas they just move their money overseas.

        • davy

          Guido is based in the UK now? First I heard.

          • Diogenesthered

            Guido isn’t the media he’s an inside the beltway blogger who reaches a few thousand politics geeks.

  • swatantra

    The Spectator will have no choice; obey the Law or close. Pretty clear and fair to me.
    Once the Press start toeing the line, its time to work on the internet.

    • Vulture

      Er….no it won’t because there will be no state regulation. The forces lined against it are too strong – fortunately! Fraser will be quite safe from the soapy attentions of Big Bubba in D wing.

    • HJ777

      In case you weren’t aware, the internet isn’t controlled by the British government.

      If The Spectator chose to publish online from overseas, the UK government has no jurisdiction.

      • FrenchNewsonlin

        Except the UN via the International Telecommunication Union is working on the matter. Google has a petition up calling for a free and open Internet. Try Googling (sorry) it.

      • the viceroy’s gin


        If The Spectator chose to publish online from overseas, the UK government has no jurisdiction.


        But if they claim jurisdiction, they can hinder that publication. That would be the logical next step.

        However, I’d say the current government is happy with the current arrangement. The Speccie teenagers are lapdogs for the Cameroons, and so expediency means they’ll let things stand.

    • Archimedes

      Some are born thick, some achieve thickness, and some have thickness thrust upon them – I feel that you are a remarkable combination of all three.

    • Colonel Mustard

      What a repulsive and sinister comment. How disagreeable it is to think that I have to share this country with nasty little authoritarian meddlers like you.

  • Nicholas Hallam

    I may need to start buying The Spectator again.