Transparency Double Standard: UK Public Inquiry Requests Info From Wikileaks

from the feeding-the-hand-that-bites dept

Well, this is interesting. Given the general condemnation of Wikileaks by governments, all the ongoing controversy and reputation problems faced by the organization, you wouldn’t expect them to be approached with any official requests for leaked information. But it seems just that has happened in the UK, where the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics has requested and received a dossier from Wikileaks on corruption in the British press.

On the surface this is pretty hypocritical, and more than a little ironic: in the past, the UK government asked media outlets to brief them on government secrets they received from Wikileaks before publishing them. Now, a government-run inquiry is asking Wikileaks to hand over information on UK media outlets. Apparently they don’t hate leaks as long as they flow in the right direction.

Hopefully this represents another step towards governments recognizing that Wikileaks isn’t pure evil, even if there are questionable things about the operation. Though there are risks, bringing sensitive information to light is often in the public’s best interest—indeed, that’s the whole spirit behind public inquiries. The Leveson Inquiry was convened when the News of the World phone-hacking scandal pointed to a secret culture of corruption in the press, and now Wikileaks is helping to expose it further. If governments attempt to maintain secret cultures of their own, they too will be exposed.

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Comments on “Transparency Double Standard: UK Public Inquiry Requests Info From Wikileaks”

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Fin says:


The house of Lords confuses me more and more. Its unelected and i’m sure has a number of Lord’s that are keen to look after their interests but every so often they seem to be a glimmer of light in our rather useless method of government.

The problem with the house of parliament and democracy in the UK is its slow to react and once a party is in power its quick to forget it is there to represent the people. MPs get elected like because they represent familiar brands, no one pays attentions to their policies.

Then there is the legislating for the sake of legislating or from outside pressures, such as the Digital Economy Act, causing 101 ill written laws.

It is strange but the fact the enquiry is using wikileaks isn’t a double standard to me but rather the saner house of the UK parliament being sensible.

Jake says:


The thing you need to understand about the House of Commons is that Party leaders have enormous power to force MPs to vote how they’re told to vote, up to and including the right to kick an MP off the party ticket altogether; it’s known as “withdrawing the whip”, which isn’t as much of a relief as it sounds because come the next General Election the newly independent MP is going to be running against the full force of his old party’s campaigning resources.

The Lords on the other hand can only be unseated by death or prosecution for a serious criminal offence, and therefore have nothing much to lose by refusing to tow the Party line when it’s blatantly idiotic.

ceebs says:


Its one of the reasons some of us are slightly twitchy about getting rid of the house of lords. they have a history of doing things like this, When Margaret Thatcher was in power, they would frequently block the more outrageous policies that she had. they couldnt block them totally, but the year that they could delay for before the government could use the parliament act frequently gave us time to organise enough that it wasnt worth bringing law changes in. or if it was there would be a fight on their hands.

The poll tax is a good example. in the time.that they spent messing about with the lords, there were groups throughout the country planning to disrupt its operation, organising non payment campaigns, training people to be amateur representation at magistrates courts so we could jam up the enforcement process, and training people to deal with baliffs in case it got as far as enforcement

I also dont find it hypocrytical, they have given a judge freedon to ask anyone and everyone anything within his terms of reference and he’s using those powers to go where he sees fit.

Anonymous Coward says:

House of Lords

its a funny place as it is not so dependent on the Political Parties. Once you realise that some peers are pretty poor then it becomes an interesting experiment: randomly pick some families (who have at some point been rewarded for doing good/bad) and leave them to try to provide some long view on law making.
or replace them with Politicos and maybe some more recent good doers.
i quite like the idea of fairly randomly picked families.

Duke (profile) says:

Not the Government

While the inquiry was established (and funded) by the government, it is more like a judicial inquiry, run by a judge with help from barristers etc., rather than a government one. Judges in the UK are required to be independent of politics and government, and so they care more about finding the facts than about doing what is politically convenient.

It does not surprise me at all that Lord Justice Leveson is happy to get information from WikiLeaks; it is not like all the other organisations he is dealing with are paragons of virtue – that is part of the point of the trial. If they have information that could help the inquiry, they could help. Whether what Wikileaks says is evidenced enough to be of any use is another matter.

As an aside, the “Lord Justice” is merely a judicial title given to members of the Court of Appeal, Leveson LJ is not a member of the House of Lords nor a member of the Supreme Court (who are traditionally allowed to call themselves “Lord” or “Lady”). Along with all (male) High Court and above judges, he is addressed as “my Lord” in court, but that’s an honorary/traditional thing, and limited to court stuff. Outside that he is just a knight and Privy Counsellor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wikileaks Is Part Of The Press

Wikileaks provides a very useful extra layer of security to whistleblowers. The first thing anybody wishing to retaliate against a whistleblower wants to do, is discover the identity of the whistleblower. Conventional news organisations find it difficult to protect the identity of whistleblowers from determined high-level attempts to unmask their sources. So Wikileaks gets information which would not otherwise be revealed. That is important to the press in general.

So Wikileaks is part of the press and thus should be protected by all the laws designed to promote the freedom of the press. That includes, and is not limited to, the first amendment of the US constitution. All actions against Wikileaks are misguided. Any politician taking such action should be fiercely criticised and have their political career ended.

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