Tuesday, 16 June 2009

No public interest in revealing Jack Night's identity

I was shocked to learn that Jack Night, the pseudonymous blogger who won the Orwell Prize back in April, has been ‘unmasked’ by the Sunday Times. At the High Court Mr Justice Eady refused to grant an injunction preventing the paper naming the serving police officer who penned the ‘Night Jack’ blog.

After the awards ceremony I wrote that I had shared a table with a police officer colleague of the winner, who spoke lucidly about the motivations which had led Jack Night to write the blog. Clearly the purpose of ‘Night Jack’ was to illuminate issues surrounding policing, justice and social upheaval through the prism of special relevant experience.

I cannot conceive of any comparable public interest argument which would have impelled the paper to reveal Jack Night’s identity. An insightful commentator has been silenced to no greater good.

7 comments:

Ignited said...

Completely agree, it is a shame that the Times has gone ahead with this - and it is also a shame that the courts have decided not to protect his identity.

I haven't read much of his blog at all (apparently he has taken it down) but I look forward to his book.

Robin said...

Disciplined by the force and the blog has been taken down.

O'Neill said...

The final irony, the winner of the Orwell Prize brought down by the forces of Orwellianism.

His piece in the Times is a sad one:

http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6515061.ece

Seymour Major said...

Quite honestly, this is not a case where the law could ever help. It is unarguable that blogging is a public activity. Jack night was never going to succeed using privacy law.

However, he may have a legal argument if he is disciplined. Under employment law, a person has a right not to be dismissed for disclosure of confidential information (even if it is against the terms of the contract) if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in not disclosing it.

Perhaps this is really about journalistic ethics - if there are any at all. At the moment, it seems that 'dog eats dog' is the order of the day.

Chekov said...

I think it is about journalistic ethics largely. But the judge did bring a balance of public interests which I think he might have omitted. There is no public interest in unmasking this man as far as I'm concerned. Legally the paper is entitled to do so, but there was no need for the judge to justify its editorial decision with a specious interest argument.

Chekov said...

I should have said the judge introduced a battle of public interests argument.

Safiya Outlines said...

It's very sad. Night Jack was a brilliant blog and I hadn't even read most of it.

The actions of The Times are petty and vindictive.