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Outrageous shutting down of British blogs

It’s extraordinary, but true, and even though we live in a image democracy where freedom of speech is a right we can enjoy, that freedom does not extend to your blog if you upset a rich and powerful person.

That is the gist of Iain Dale’s unbelievable post outlining the shutting down of Tim Ireland’s Bloggerhead’s site, as well as Craig Murray‘s, former Ambassador to Uzbekhistan.

They both spoke out against the Russian/Uzbekh billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, (pictured) who is trying to buy Arsenal FC. Lawyers letters followed which led to the webhost pulling the plug.

As Bloggerheads also hosts blogs run by Conservative MP Boris Johnson and Labour councillor Bob Piper, as well as others, their sites have vanished too, even though they did not offend the billionaire.

Iain’s article, and the comments posted, is essential reading. Good points have been made, like using American webhosts instead. And does this set a precedent which other influential people will follow if bloggers upset them?

And, as Iain says, who wants that kind of person in control of their football club? It shows him to be a person who wants everything on his terms and a bully.

This is what Craig Murray has told Iain about the extraordinary events:

“Craigmurray.co.uk has vanished – as has bloggerheads and bobpiper – after the server has been “pulled? by services management company Fasthosts Internet Ltd of Gloucester. Fasthosts have done this in response to legal threats from libel lawyers Schillings, acting on behalf of Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek oligarch and friend of Putin currently trying to buy Arsenal football club.
“As a former British Ambassador in Uzbekistan, I know a great deal more about Mr Usmanov, and especially about his criminal record, than he finds comfortable. The principal point at issue is that he has been able to take down one of the UK’s leading political websites without anything being tested in court. Fasthosts have pathetically repeated Schillings bluster that my site is “Defamatory?, as though that were established.
“We all know that money talks. It seems it can stop other people talking, too. There appears a real danger that all the material on the site may be lost and not able to be
recovered.”

Newspapers are not shut down if they face libel allegations, (not in the UK anyway) there is a legal process that is followed. Surely that process applies to bloggers too. If the offending comments were not libellous – and only a court can decide this – then Mr Usmanov’s actions could be deemed illegal. He would have to pay damages. There are all sorts of legal ramifications involved with this story.

My message to Mr Usmanov is:

Пожалуй?та ?про?ите, что ваши законоведы reinstate ?ти blogs, вы не имейте никакую потребно?ть быть и?пугано они говор?т е?ли вы будете правдивой пер?оной.

Watch this space!

Update: This story has been spreadling like wildfire, too many bloggers to be silenced. This Chicken Yoghurt link highlights them all.


10 Comments

  1. bdoon

    what is all this garbage in “Leave a Reply” ? don’t psychopaths have anything else to do ?

    Mr FatCat thinking he is something and when he goes they will say:

    “I wonder how much money he left?”

    Guess what?…he left it all. He can’t take any of it with him ..not the money or the power..still him and those like him spend their precious moments accumulating what they will leave behind. Is it better to be loved or be rich? I will take Love any day.

  2. Clever – how you did the Russian bit, Ellee.

    A sign of things to come, I’m afraid.

  3. Curmudgeon, Good point. In fact, my blog is banned in China, but luckily I am still online here.

  4. I thought this only happened in China…. incredible.

  5. This is incredible – and scandalous!

  6. That blogs are being taken off illustrates the power they have, and the fact that powerful people are afraid of what they can say.

    Whatever happened to free speech?

  7. Now Ellee, I’ve told you before – your Russian messages are altogether too nice. This sort of Russian doesn’t understand subtlety.

    Try writing пошёл вон next time.

  8. http://www.chillingeffects.org/

    has been set up in the US to expose the over-mighty corporations and individuals trying to suffocate the blogosphere. It’s well worth supporting.

  9. Word has certainly got around, I hope Mr Usmanov is listening.

  10. He shouldn’t be able to shut down their sites so easily. The company that caved in to the threats is a disgrace and should be boycotted by all.

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