Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

South Shields premier political blog

Good bye NightJack

with 10 comments

Blogger forced to give up in court case ruling

I used to enjoy reading NightJack’s blog, he won one of the Orwell Prizes this year, he was an imaginative and thoughtful writer. He was sometimes a bit dark, sometimes angry, but more often than not just plain tired of seeing a part of his life taken to pieces by nameless faceless bureaucrats …….and politicians. As a serving police officer he would have known the risks to himself should his cover be blown, as it has been today, but why on earth should The Times want to argue that it was in the public interest that we should know that a policeman is also a blogger, and has anyone never heard a copper let off steam at the end of his shift in the local pub?

His last post was quite some weeks ago, he’d virtually retired from blogging to write a book (just like another policeman who emigrated to Canada), he didn’t even turn up to accept his prize because he prized his anonymity even more.

Hopi Sen in his post defending NightJack exposes the inconsistencies in The Times approach, illustrating with the fact that Danny Finkelstein once approached him and others to write anonymously for the newspaper, so just what were they doing in going to court and claiming it was in the public interest? Was it actually necessary to have such a breach in privacy just for a newspaper to bring us a story?

One enthusiastic amateur sleuth using good investigative journalism simply because he might have recognised one or two cases that NightJack may have mentioned in passing? Would the rest of us have bothered I wonder? NightJack never used real names of people, places, dates, or times, as far as I remember , but I guess the intrigue was just too much for Mr. Foster to ignore. The course of events would have been far easier to accept if NightJack was guilty of continued libels or worse.

Hmm, Hopi Sen quotes a piece of their’s from this morning:

“Gone are the days when the government can stifle speech entirely. Like whack-a-moles, new voices from the crowd emerge through the communication clampdown” and suggest that since it is a relief that Governments can no longer stifle free speech, it should not be the job of Newspapers to take their place at the mole whacking station.

You just don’t know who, or what, to trust these days.

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Written by curly

June 16, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Blogging, Journalism, Law, Police, privacy

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10 Responses

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  1. According to The Times, he was revealing specific details from cases. If true, then their public interest defence holds up well. If untrue, then it looks a bit limp.

    Either way, anonymous bloggers don’t have the right not to be named. I simply don’t see the logic in it. Why would bloggers have such a unique legal right to anonymity when they have such a public stage to express their views?

    I’ve blogged about it over on my blog, take a look, see what you think.

    David MacLean

    June 16, 2009 at 9:29 pm

  2. I don’t disagree about the issue of anonymity, just the base for the Times story, what do we really gain from knowing Horton’s identity?

    Who else would have been that bothered to dig deep into his blog on a hunch that they might have recognised one or two stories?

    Looking through the comments at Hopi Sen we see the same newspaper in the past trying to defend the anonymity of one of their own reporters using the same defence (it didn’t work), yet they can still print lots of unattributed comments day in day out from those in the political lobby.



    June 16, 2009 at 9:53 pm

  3. Old Holborn reckons he can get dirt on the Times journalist who outed NightJack. What do we think, do two wrongs make a right?


    June 16, 2009 at 10:31 pm

  4. […] Fleet Street Blues and Curly’s Corner Shop both find it justified that the blogger is called up over his copper […]

  5. Thats rather harsh I have to say. But as soon as an anonymous person becomes popular people suddenly give a shit about who he actually is.
    Banksy for example, if we found out who he really was it would be some average jo blogs sorta name, and probably someone who isn’t all that important. The only ones who should care about who he is, is of course the police. Ha ha. I guess it wasnt a good example. But you get my jist. Interesting blog. props.

    Izak Flash man

    June 17, 2009 at 4:31 am

  6. The blogger like all public employees will have signed the Official Secrets Act. As public servants we come across all sorts of interesting information which we are prevented ,quite rightly, from sharing.
    If there are matters of public interest we cqan progress these through our staff association or Trade Union. There are even special arrangements for whistle blowers.


    June 17, 2009 at 10:35 am

  7. One has to question whether there is any evidence to suggest that Night Jack shared any information which was subject to those conditions Dee, much of what he wrote would soon enough be in the public domain via crime reporters of local newspapers.

    A written warning suggests that Lancs. police didn’t view the matter that seriously.

    So what was the motivation in exposing his name and photograph? A new post will follow shortly.


    June 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

  8. Well if I for example had been blogging when I was employed by the DWP and dropped broad hints about well known local figures and their benefit claims it would be understandable for peeople to have concerns when I was dealing with their claims.
    When you are a public servant you have to be trusted by the people you give a service to. Even though you may not name names you can drop enough hints to call your discretion into question.
    In my working life I dealt with cases involving domestic violence, bigamy, child abuse and fraud all of which I had to maintain confidentiality about.


    June 17, 2009 at 3:34 pm

  9. Did you ever read Night Jack Dee?
    Yes , he named a few names, folks like Jack Straw, Jaqui Smith, David Davies, etc. don’t we all? But they were the only real names, I saw no real towns or cities, and to be honest I couldn’t be bothered to do the detective work to find out who might have assaulted who.


    June 17, 2009 at 7:15 pm

  10. I did read his blogs and it reminded me of a local copper I used to know. He started out as a decent enough person but the job turned him very cynical about people. He used to say that council estates like Whiteleas should be encircled with barbed wire and the inhabitants napalmed because they were low life scum ( his words not mine before angry Whiteleas dwellers complain)
    If he was writing a blog can you imagine what he’d be writing about things like the stabbing of Deka Kennedy, Glen Corner and Lee Phipps. No one in the rest of the country would recognise the cases but we would and might be offended and angry about the portrayal of our town. Cynicism is corrosive. A paramedic writing a similar blog has been told to pack it in as people need to have confidence that they will be treated with respect rather than written about in sneering cynical terms.


    June 17, 2009 at 8:57 pm

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