Tuesday, May 27, 2008

South Africa Constitutional Court on open justice and national security

The South African Constitutional handed down its judgment in Independent Newspapers (Pty) Ltd v Minister for Intelligence Services last week. In what seems like a reasonably good judgment, the Court ruled that the in-camera evidence in the case of former National Intelligence Agency chief Billy Masetlha be made available to the public, but that certain disputed parts should not be published. This follows Independent Newspapers' application to get access to restricted material in the case of the former spy boss. The Minister for Intelligence Services, Ronnie Kasrils, had opposed the application on the grounds that the material was classified and could not be divulged, citing national security concerns.

The following is from the Court's press release:

Writing for the majority, Moseneke DCJ considered the cluster of rights that establish the right to open justice. He observed that the right to open justice is not absolute, but that a court must decide in all the circumstances of a particular case whether its limitation is in the interests of justice. Moseneke DCJ recognised that what is in the interests of justice has to be considered in the light of two competing constitutional claims: the first being open justice; and the second being the government’s obligation to pursue national security. In considering the Minister’s argument that the fact that documents are classified renders them immune to disclosure, he held that the mere fact that the documents in a court record carry a security classification does not oust the jurisdiction of a court to decide whether they should be protected from disclosure to the media and public.

Moseneke DCJ then considered each of the documents separately. He ruled that the whole of the in camera affidavit made by Mr Masetlha should be made available to the public but that the three disputed annexures to the affidavit should not.

Yacoob J wrote a dissenting judgment. He held that all the documents should be released to the public mainly because the information in them is in the public interest. The national security interest, he reasoned, may be protected by further redaction of the documents. His judgment emphasises that the public version of the Inspector General’s report by the government was both misleading and deceptive and took the view that the Court should not be used as an instrument for concealment in the circumstances.

Yacoob J further held, in relation to the interlocutory application, that it would have been in the interests of justice for the documents to be made available to the legal representatives of Independent Newspapers and some of their senior personnel to help Independent Newspapers prepare their case.

Sachs J in his judgment, which aligns itself with the outcome proposed by Yacoob J, placed reliance on the constitutional principle of openness to justify the disclosure of the relevant material. In contrast to the hegemonic and secretive agencies of the past, he reasoned, the South African intelligence services are required at all times to act within the limits defined by the Constitution, and in line with the spirit and purport of the Constitution. Sachs J concluded that more damage would be done to the national interest in general, and to the vitality of the intelligence service in particular, by withholding stale and routine information about the workings of the agency, than by allowing the normal rules governing public access to all court documents to apply.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Singapore's film censorship system in action

This is a beautiful example of Singapore's film censorship system in action: part 1 and part 2 of a You Tube video showing Singapore 'Media Development Authority' staff and police barging in and stopping a private screening of 'One Nation Under Lee', a film about - you guessed it - censorship under the Lee regime.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tesco case update: Guardian files defence

The Guardian have filed their defence against the Tesco libel claim. In line with their piece from a little while ago, they have bowed to the libel claim but are resisting the charge of malicious falsehood.

They also maintain that Tesco does evade its tax obligations and that its ethical stance is "a sham". The defence papers as filed calculate that Tesco have avoided Stamp Duty Land Tax to the tune of £85-95m, which though not as large as the original claim of hundreds of millions evaded in corporation tax is still a tidy sum of money. The defence says: "SDLT avoidance was the principal objective of the structure of the schemes analysed in the articles. Tesco has carefully built up a reputation for not being party to tax avoidance and therefore for being socially responsible. That reputation is not deserved and the public have been misled."

Meanwhile, Kamol Kamoltrakul has been in touch saying that Tesco Lotus have still not been in touch with him. His defence was filed May 2.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dutch cartoonist arrested, prosecuted for inciting hatred against muslims

Dutch cartoonist "Gregorius Nekschot" has been arrested for inciting hatred - see here and here for an English language report. A criminal complaint for inciting hatred was filed against him three years ago; apparently he has been arrested only now because police had trouble ascertaining his identity and finding him. Which is odd because he was interviewed for Danish TV a few months ago... The charge is - apparently - insulting and inciting hatred against muslims.

Some of the cartoons have been republished by De Volkskrant, one of the main national daily newspapers, and they can also be found on Nekschot's own website. Nekschot was a smalltime cause celebre in the Netherlands, defending cartoonists' rights to go to the limit and championed by people such as Theo van Gogh. I can see how people might be offended by his work but inciting hatred? No. And to cause offence is an entirely legitimate activity, protected under the Dutch constitution as well as under international law. The prosecutor's office is erring gravely here; in view of what happened to Van Gogh, they should be protecting this man, not prosecuting him.

Khushboo criminal libel case stayed until further notice

The Indian Supreme Court has stayed proceedings in the criminal libel case that had been launched against the actress S Khushboo, pending a full hearing of the case on July 7.

The litigation arose out of comments that Kushboo had made about sexual morals in India, which were opposed by various groups who launched defamation cases against her, claiming that her statement that Indian girls were "coming out of their shells" was denigrating. A total of 23 cases were registered against her in courts all over Tamil Nadu, and the Madras High Court on April 30 refused to quash the cases, transferring them to a lower court for trial. Aggrieved by the Madras High Court order, the actress appealed to the Supreme Court claiming all the cases were false and were filed against her with the sole aim of getting political mileage and publicity.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Update on Philippines impunity cases

The Philippines Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility today released a very useful update on a number of impunity cases currently pending in the Philippines. All involve unresolved killings of journalists; and an interesting feature is that all have been or are being tried in Cebu, a venue where the defendants have less (political and other) influence.

The trial of the suspected murderers of Rolando Ureta, a journalist who was killed on 3 January 2001 in Kalibo, Aklan, started on May 9 in Cebu City. The transfer of venue had been requested by the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, citing the influence of the accused in Aklan, and granted by the Supreme Court on 18 March 2008, alongside a petition for change of venue of the trial of the murderers of Herson Hinolan, a journalist who was killed in Aklan in 2004.

Two other successful prosecutions of killed journalists have recently taken place in Cebu: the 2005 prosecution of the killers of Edgar Damalerio, which resulted in a life sentence for gunman and former police officer Guillermo Wapile; and the 2006 prosecutions of the killers of Marlene Esperat, which resulted in life sentences for the hitman, a look-out and a co-conspirator. The effort to secure the arrest of those who ordered the Esperat killing is still on-going.

More updates on the Ureta case can be found here; info on the Damalerio case here; on the Esperat case here; and on the Hinolan case here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Armenian court rules broadcasting fee system unconstitutional

The Armenian Constitutional Court ruled yesterday that Article 53(3) of the Armenian Law on Television and Radio, which gives the government unfettered discretion to determine the level of the broadcasting fee, is unconstitutional. The case had been brought by Radio Hay, a Yerevan-based broadcaster, who complained that the Ministry of Transport and Communications had demanded it pay a fee of USD27,000 when other broadcasters paid far less.

The full judgment will eventually appear here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ECHR: saying that earthquake is caused by wrath of god is not hate speech

The European Court of Human Rights held that a criminal conviction for saying that the Marmara earthquake, which killed some 20,000 people in 1999, was divine punishment for the behaviour of Turkey's military and generally for people’s ingratitude towards God, their sinful ways and their failure to praise God, violated the applicant's right to freedom of expression. In Kutlular v. Turkey (application no. 73715/01), the Court said that such speech, though offensive to non-believers, was not capable of stirring hatred against non-believers.

Google Street View fleet prowls Paris

The Guardian blogs this morning picked up on the news that Google will soon be launching the Street View version of its maps service in Europe, and predicts law suits in countries with strict privacy laws, such as France, despite Google's intention to pixelate all faces. They may well be right - identifiable data goes beyond a person's face; and one also wonders how the British courts will react in the aftermath of the Court of Appeal ruling on the JK Rowling toddler photos.

Pictures of the Google fleet filming Paris have been published here and elsewhere. So if you see a black Opel/Vauxhall Astra with a large camera on its roof approaching, smile 'cos you're on not-so candid camera...

Danish cartoons complaint inadmissible

The United Nations Human Rights Committee declared inadmissible a complaint from two Danish nationals who alleged that the cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten (you know, the Danish cartoons - these) had resulted in discrimination and attacks on their reputation, and that they had been denied an effective domestic remedy for incitement of hatred against them. The admissibility decision does not go into the merits of the complaint but finds that domestic remedies have not been exhausted.

Ahmad and Abdol-Hamid v. Denmark, Communication no. 1487/2006, 18 April 2008.

Monday, May 12, 2008

more Malaysia sedition charges

It is as if a memo has been circulated among Malaysia's politicians and prosecutors reminding them of the attractiveness of Malaysia's sedition laws. In addition to last week's blogger case, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance has now reported that two other sedition charges have been filed.

The first two cases were lodged on the same day. On 6 May 2008, a well-known online critic, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, and a commentator on his website, Syed Akbar Ali, were charged under the 1948 Sedition Act in the Sessions Court in the state of Selangor and the capital of Kuala Lumpur, respectively. Raja Petra and Syed Akbar are both denying the charge, and while Syed Akbar was released the same day on a bail of RM3,000 (approx. US$939), Raja Petra initially refused to post bail on a matter of principle needed four days for his wife to persuade him to change his mind. Raja Petra, 58, who runs the popular Malaysia Today website (http://www.malaysia-today.net), was charged over his 25 April article, "Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell", which implicated Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife in the murder of a Mongolian national. Syed Akbar, 48 was charged over his 5 June 2007 online response to another article by Raja Petra, "Malaysia’s organised crime syndicate: All roads lead to Putrajaya". His trial will begin on 6 June 2008.

The third case was lodged on May 9, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reportedly ordered a ruling party official to lodge a separate sedition complaint against Karpal Singh, a top politician with a rival party, for questioning the jurisdiction of sultans. In this case, six members of the dominant ruling party, United Malays National Organisation, and a coalition of Malay non-governmental organisations filed two police reports against Karpal for making allegedly seditious remarks against one of the monarchs who historically rule nine out of 14 states of the constitutional monarchy in Malaysia. A 5 May report in the "Star" English daily quoted the chairperson of the Democratic Action Party as saying: "Sultan Azlan Shah did not have any say, as the Ruler of Perak, in the decision made by the state government and, by law, the palace cannot order the state government to reinstate Jamry [Sury as the state's Islamic Department director]." Jamry had been transferred to another department for refusing to cooperate with the new ruling state government in Perak, which was formed by the federal-level opposition coalition, People's Pact. The monarchy, a Malay sultanate, is one of the sensitive topics in multi-ethnic Malaysia, which is dominated by the ethnic Malays, followed by the Chinese, Indians and indigenous groups.

This could be a good opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of the charges, particularly if, as I hope, the Ugandan Supreme Court rules that the virtually identical Ugandan sedition law is unconstitutional. That might just give it the push it needs - earlier attempts having been unsuccessful. Watch this space for further developments.

Mwenda sedition x2

Last Friday, Andrew Mwenda was formally charged with sedition for a story in his Independent bi-monthly which alleged UDPF involvement in killings in Northern Uganda. Independent reporters John Njoroge and Charles Bichachi were charged alongside Mwenda.

This is not the first time Mwenda has been charged with sedition. He is currently fighting in the Supreme Court earlier charges which arose from a radio-show Mwenda had in 2005 in which there had been speculation about the death of Southern Sudanese leader John Garang. Mwenda is challenging the constitutionality of the Penal Code sections under which he has been charged: Sections 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44, which establish sedition and promoting sectarianism as offences against the state, and Section 179, which establishes the offence of libel. Section 39 defines sedition as an "intention to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the president, the government as by law established." Section 40 provides for a five years sentence or a fine of USh50,000 on conviction. On second conviction, the sentence can be up to seven years. It is reported that several journalists have been prosecuted under these Penal Code provisions.

This earlier case has been ongoing for several years now and was scheduled to be heard in April 2008. It was not; and I'm not aware if a new date for the hearing has been set. He is asking that the new charges are postponed pending the Supreme Court's determination of the constitutionality of the sedition provisions. Which makes sense to me.

By the way, here is the army's response to the April 2008 allegations, which makes inaccurate by-the-by remarks about the Freedom of Information Act and describes Mwenda as "the single biggest beneficiary of Uganda's freedom of press and speech". Ah, so that's why he is resisting multiple sedition charges filed against him and had to fight for years to overturn a 'false news' charge against him. Sure, that makes sense, he is really enjoying his freedom of speech. Anyway, it makes you wonder why they need to resort to filing sedition charges, if the government can just use the state-owned newspaper to promote its own version of events.

Friday, May 09, 2008

UK formally abolishes common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel

Following lengthy debates in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel were formally abolished yesterday. Their abolition was long overdue and hopefully will set some kind of example to other countries were these laws are still abused.

This does not create a free-for-all to whip up hatred against religion: as of last year, this is illegal - under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006). But it does mean that open "discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system" is no longer formally prohibited. Which is a good thing.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tesco libel suits - more updates

The Thai National Human Rights Commission and the National Foundation of Consumers today held a joint seminar on Tesco's negative impact on communities and the media's freedom to report and criticise. Not sure if they also issued a statement but it keeps the story running so good stuff. Reported in today's Nation newspaper.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Guardian has reportedly expressed its bewilderment with Tesco's decision to pursue its case against the newspaper despite last week's apology (which wasn't quite that, though, as I reported a few days ago).

Frankly I share their bewilderment and I also wonder why Tesco are persisting with the Thai cases. Not only do they not have a very strong legal case, you would have thought Tesco had learned from past mistakes of others. The McLibel case springs to mind: back in 1990, McDonalds sued two campaigners for libel after they had made allegations about the environmental impact of McDonalds food as well as about health risks. While McDonalds eventually won the suit in the UK, it cost them dearly in terms of PR - the allegations were hotly debated in court and received broad media exposure - and the decision was declared a violation of the campaigners' right to freedom of expression by the European Court of Human Rights. Are Tesco's PR people not aware of this? Nevermind its legal and CSR teams?

JK Rowling's son wins privacy fight

The English Court of Appeal ruled today that photo agency Big Pictures breached Rowling's son's right to privacy and family life when it took long lens photographs of her son being pushed in a pushchair.

This is a groundbreaking judgment. It is the first time that the Court of Appeal has ruled that privacy is engaged when an inoffensive, ordinary photograph is taken of an individual going about their ordinary everyday business in the high street. It follows the Canadian and French approach to privacy and goes even beyond - I think - what the European Court of Human Rights would rule should it ever have such a case before it.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Patten had ruled against Rowling's son, saying that "on my understanding of the law including Von Hannover there remains an area of innocuous conduct in a public place which does not raise a reasonable expectation of privacy; and secondly, that even if the ECtHR in Von Hannover has extended the scope of protection into areas which conflict with the principles and the decision in Campbell, I am bound to follow Campbell in preference" (paragraph 68 of the High Court judgment).

Wrong, says the Court of Appeal: "We have reached a different conclusion from that of the judge. In our opinion it is at least arguable that David had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The fact that he is a child is in our view of greater significance than the judge thought." The Court goes on to refer to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and to the PCC Code, and then points out the neither Campbell nor Van Hannover were cases about children. So, the Court argues, it has before it a relatively clean slate on which to write new law. It then states (and I'm quoting at length with a few chops - notably the references to the New Zealand Court of Appeal's ruling in Hosking v Runting):

50. ... the parents' wish, on behalf of their children, to protect the freedom of the children to live normal lives without the constant fear of media intrusion is (at least arguably) entirely reasonable and, other things being equal, should be protected by the law. It is true, as the judges say at [164], that the photographs showed no more than could be seen by anyone in the street but, once published, they would be disseminated to a potentially large number of people on the basis that they were children of well-known parents, leading to the possibility of further intrusion in the future. If the photographs had been taken, as Lord Hope put it at [123] of Campbell, to show the scene in a street by a passer-by and later published as street scenes, that would be one thing, but they were not taken as street scenes but were taken deliberately, in secret and with a view to their subsequent publication. They were taken for the purpose of publication for profit, no doubt in the knowledge that the parents would have objected to them.


52. The approved test is not whether a person of ordinary sensibilities would find the publication highly offensive or objectionable, even bearing in mind that young children are involved, but (as Lord Hope put it in the passage quoted at [35] above) what a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities would feel if he or she was placed in the same position as the claimant and faced with the same publicity. The judges did not consider either of the two questions posed through the eyes of the reasonable child, or (more realistically) through the eyes of the reasonable parent on behalf of the child.


55. We recognise that there may well be circumstances in which there will be no reasonable expectation of privacy, even after Von Hannover. However, as we see it all will (as ever) depend upon the facts of the particular case. The judge suggests that a distinction can be drawn between a child (or an adult) engaged in family and sporting activities and something as simple as a walk down a street or a visit to the grocers to buy the milk. This is on the basis that the first type of activity is clearly part of a person's private recreation time intended to be enjoyed in the company of family and friends and that, on the test deployed in Von Hannover, publicity of such activities is intrusive and can adversely affect the exercise of such social activities. We agree with the judge that that is indeed the basis of the ECtHR's approach but we do not agree that it is possible to draw a clear distinction in principle between the two kinds of activity. Thus, an expedition to a café of the kind which occurred here seems to us to be at least arguably part of each member of the family's recreation time intended to be enjoyed by them and such that publicity of it is intrusive and such as adversely to affect such activities in the future.

56. We do not share the predisposition identified by the judge in [66] that routine acts such as a visit to a shop or a ride on a bus should not attract any reasonable expectation of privacy. All depends upon the circumstances. The position of an adult may be very different from that of a child. In this appeal we are concerned only with the question whether David, as a small child, had a reasonable expectation of privacy, not with the question whether his parents would have had such an expectation. Moreover, we are concerned with the context of this case, which was not for example a single photograph taken of David which was for some reason subsequently published.

57. It seems to us that, subject to the facts of the particular case, the law should indeed protect children from intrusive media attention, at any rate to the extent of holding that a child has a reasonable expectation that he or she will not be targeted in order to obtain photographs in a public place for publication which the person who took or procured the taking of the photographs knew would be objected to on behalf of the child. That is the context in which the photographs of David were taken.

58. It is important to note that so to hold does not mean that the child will have, as the judge puts it in [66], a guarantee of privacy. To hold that the child has a reasonable expectation of privacy is only the first step. Then comes the balance which must be struck between the child's rights to respect for his or her private life under article 8 and the publisher's rights to freedom of expression under article 10. This approach does not seem to us to be inconsistent with that in Campbell, which was not considering the case of a child.

In these circumstances we do not think that it is necessary for us to analyse the decision in Von Hannover in any detail, especially since this is not an appeal brought after the trial of the action but an appeal against an order striking the action out. Suffice it to say that, in our opinion, the view we have expressed is consistent with that in Von Hannover, to which, as McKennitt v Ash makes clear, it is permissible to have regard. We do not disagree with the judge's summary of the decision in Von Hannover which we have quoted at [43 ix)] above. Mr Warby drew our attention to the oral submissions made to the ECtHR by Mr Prinz on behalf Princess Caroline, where he emphasised the campaign of harassment conducted against her by the German media. That was indeed part of the context in which the decision was made. For his part Mr Spearman stressed the fact that some of the photographs, the publication of which was held to infringe Princess Caroline's rights under article 8, showed her doing no more than walking in public.

60. The context of Von Hannover was therefore different from this but we have little doubt that, if the assumed facts of this case were to be considered by the ECtHR, the court would hold that David had a reasonable expectation of privacy and it seems to us to be more likely than not that, on the assumed facts, it would hold that the article 8/10 balance would come down in favour of David. We would add that there is nothing in the Strasbourg cases since Von Hannover which in our opinion leads to any other conclusion: see eg Reklos and Davourlis v Greece, petition no 1234/05, 6 September 2007.

61. In these circumstances, the judge was in our judgment wrong to strike out David's claim on the ground that he had no arguable case that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Understandably, the judge did not consider whether, if article 8 was engaged, David had an arguable case that the balance should be struck in his favour. In our opinion David has an arguable case on both points and his parents should be permitted to take his claim to trial on his behalf."

So the Court rules that there was an arguable expectation of privacy in the taking and publication of the photograph, and hints that, at trial, a court would probably rule for Rowling's son. This is novel and represents a further creep in privacy law, and a corresponding restriction of freedom of expression. This will be of immediate interest to paparazzi, and few will cry for them. But the longer-term implication is that the realm of privacy has been extended, beyond what the European Court has determined in cases such as
Von Hannover, and that certainly is concerning.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

Much has been written about the mutilation of the SR's mandate (this was the original draft, sponsored by Canada and others). Live video of it happening has been archived here: the 'fun' starts at 40 minutes, when Pakistan introduces the OIC amendment requiring the mandate to also report on certain abuses of free speech, and it really hots up at around the one hour six minutes mark with the unscripted introduction of a subsequent Cuban amendment stressing "the importance for all forms of media to repeat and to deliver information in a fair and partial manner" (it should probably be 'impartial' - whatever. The Cuban amendment has so far been reported officially only in this press release). The Cubans had given no notice whatsoever of their amendment, and this causes all manner of procedural confusion over whether it should be allowed or not. The Chinese intervene to support the amendment while the Slovenians, who hold the EU presidency at the moment and speak for the 'pro speech group', frantically wave to get the floor but are ignored. The President eventually exercises his discretion and allows the amendment causing the Slovenians to object, but to no avail.

What a mess ... I can't wait to find out who they'll appoint as rapporteur. This will happen at the 8th session, on June 18 according to the provisional programme of work.

Ghana: reinstate criminal libel?

Ghana is one of the few countries to have completely decriminalised libel (according to ARTICLE 19's defamation map of the world, most countries have and apply criminal defamation laws). But, with the quality of journalism being what it is (ie often poor), some voices have advocated for its reinstatement in Ghana.

But does bad writing justify reintroducing criminal libel laws? Does throwing someone into prison, sentencing them to a heavy fine or even imposing a suspended sentence on them improve their writing? No, it does not. Appropriate civil laws suffice to deal with defamatory writing; even better, bringing in an independent press council, de-linking commercial interests and editorial policies and some attention to journalism education would go a very long way to improving the quality of journalism. In Ghana and elsewhere. Fortunately some writers in Ghana agree with that sentiment.

Judge acquits Goran Gavrilov attack suspects

The suspected attackers of Goran Gavrilov, the journalist who was violently attacked (see also here for more background) were set free last week, with the judge refusing to admit a raft of forensic evidence (including significant DNA evidence and evidence that the bullet matched one of the attackers' guns). The prosecution is appealing I am told.

Malaysian jailed pending hearing on charges of sedition

Reuters has reported that "a Malaysian man opted to go to jail on Tuesday instead of paying bail after he was accused of sedition for implying the country's deputy premier had a hand in the murder of a Mongolian woman, his lawyer said."

It's a convoluted story and the allegations are hard to establish, but not something anyone should be imprisoned for. Yet another example of why these kinds of laws need to be repealed - they were brought in by colonial repressors and are used now as they were then - to silence oppositional voices.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tesco libel suits update

An update on Tesco's recent libel storm. Two sets of cases are ongoing: one set being populated by three Thai writers, and the other by the UK Guardian newspaper. The Guardian is being sued for allegations about tax evasion; the Thais for criticising Tesco's expansion tactics in Thailand. The suits have been ongoing for a few months now.

The Guardian have exploded their suit, claiming that there were wrong to allege evasion of corporation tax in their original story (only available through google's cache, and probably not for much longer) - sorry, they say, it was Stamp Duty Land Tax they were evading. Over to Tesco. I say the gist of their story stands and is even stronger now: that Tesco have set up "a complex web of companies, trusts and partnerships" to evade taxes. Nice background piece on the investigation here.

Meanwhile, in Thailand... A raft of UK writers have written to Tesco to protest about the suits, in the Guardian (twice) and the Times; both the Times and the Guardian have also picked up on the story that Tesco never actually approached any of the three for an apology or response before suing. A real groundswell is now building in UK broadsheets and mainstream media and some Thai media against Tesco: good pieces by the BBC, Channel 4 TV, the Independent, Bangkok Post, in addition to a raft of stories in the Guardian.

The Guardian has done a useful backgrounder.

First court date for Kamoltrakul: May 6.