Secret UK censorship court orders BBC not to air documentary

A UK judge has ordered the BBC not to broadcast a documentary about England's August 2011 riots, reports The Guardian. The judge also banned the BBC and media from disclosing the court in which the censorship order was made; the judge's name; or the details or nature of the order.

The documentary features actors reading from interviews with rioters, but it's not clear exactly what was deemed worthy of censorship. The BBC "strongly objects" to the ruling and plans to appeal.



  1. “All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.”

    George Bernard Shaw

    (From WikiQuotes)

    1. Honestly? I suspect that a great deal of what the rioters had to say directly contradicts the official “these incidents were isolated outbreaks of mindless opportunism,” in as much as a lot of the interviewees probably (as they did when interviewed by the Guardian)  gave voice to very real concerns about being marginalised by politics and brutalised by the police.

      I would guess that, as the riots were at about this time last year, representatives of either the government or the Metropolitan Police intervened to prevent the airing of these concerns (which were completely silenced by the media at the time of the riots) causing a repeat outbreak of rioting this year. IANAL but I would guess that the grounds for the injunction would be some form of public endangerment.

  2. Hmmm…  secret order, secret court, secret judge, order not officially revealed.

    Sounds to me like they should just air it.  The court will then have to come forward to take steps, and that might air the dirty laundry of theirs…

    1. Your link states:

      “There is no direct relationship between the D Notice system and the Official Secrets Act; the latter has legal force, the former does not. As the official guidelines say, the D Notice system is entirely voluntary and has no legal authority; the final responsibility for the decision whether or not to publish lies solely with the editor or publisher concerned. ”

      But this appears to be the order of some sort of court.

  3. how “Secret” is this court (etc) if a clueless (feckless) out-of-the-looper  such as me is reading about it?

    1.  So secret it can give orders without using its name. Reckon you can stop them with your having read about it?

    1. Thatssss a nice ssssecret court you have there. It would be a sssshame if anybody were to LEAK DETAILS about it.

  4. Anyone ever get the feeling that with the end of the cold war and the global lack of serious external enemies, that states now view their own citizens as the primary focus of the security agencies?  Seriously, when I was born, the cold war was a threat to the survival mankind itself.  Hitler invaded France and the Soviet Union.  The Soviets had thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at American cities.  Bin Landen got some guys to fly  airliners into a a couple of buildings.  Oh yeah and the nation states the threaten us are what Iran and North Korea?

    In the US end of Prohibition meant the start of the drug war.  End of the cold war meant the start of the war on terror.  And now ten years out the war on terror has morphed into a war on anyone that dares to suggest changes to how we allocate money and power.

    The question is, why do we put up with this?

    1. You control people by controlling their perceptions, and that is very profitable.

  5. Instead they can air an hour-long special on the increase of the chocolate ration. Did you hear? It’s now 25 grams per week!

  6. Hey BB, your (I’m guessing) not-yet-published stories show up in the RSS feed before they’re published. FYI.

    1. The RSS feed’s fine, I just accidentally changed the date on a published post, it went to RSS with a “new” URL, and when I moved it “back” the URL changed back with it.

      1. Hey, Rob, I think you’re going to leave your computer logged in around Percival Dunwoody.

      2. Ah, well as far as I’ve noticed, something like this happens a few times a week (404s on RSS entries). I’ve been curious enough to construct a theory!

  7. Perhaps it’s nothing more than something in the programme refers to an ongoing case and the court doesn’t want to prejudice the outcome?

    1.  So why can’t we know the name of the judge or the court?  Usually if they’re choosing/forced to not show something ‘to avoid prejudicing an ongoing case’ then they can just say that, without naming the case.  Not to mention, if that was the case, then the BBC would almost certainly have pulled or edited the program themselves without needing a court order.
      I call shenanigans.
      (also, Striesland effect much?)

    2. Bingo. The judge is  Julian Flaux at Birmingham crown Court, the case is the ongoing murder trial in Birmingham, the defence applied for the injunction.

      The judge was giving final directions to the jury a few days before they were deliberate, this was the same day the injunction was made and the programmed was scheduled to be broadcast.

      The unusual part is that the show did not directly mention any events or individuals in the trial. However the show contained statements from unrelated rioters about their motivations and actions during the riots so the defendants legal reps applied for the injunction on the basis that the jury may feel more hostile to anyone who went for a bit of a riot and as a result may be prejudiced against the defendants.

  8. I don’t see how anyone can object to this.  The BBC is just a corporation, and doesn’t have any rights, so government gets to tell it what it can and can’t say. 

      1.  But I thought CU was a bad decision, and that we should take away the rights of corporations so we could be more like the UK.  This is so confusing. 

        1. Well it’s simple: the U.K. just needs to “harmonize” it’s laws with those in the U.S.A., so that the U.S.A. can “harmonize” it’s laws with of the U.K., so the U.K. can “harmonize” it’s laws with those in the U.S.A., wash-rinse-repeat…

          None of that old-fashioned and inefficient “Separation of powers” or “fundamental rights” bunk, just glorious HARMONY (enforced at the barrel of a gun).

      1. There is. Parliamentary Privilege.
        I seriously hope some MP lets the cat out of the bag in parliament, after which we will probably find that the objection was ridiculously  mundane and could have been resolved easily without all this Big Brother shit.

  9. They can do that? 
    How’d the judge even know there was something to censor? Who’s behind this? Oh right, secret.

  10. I am really wondering what the future will bring as the people of various countries (beyond the Arab Spring) begin to realize that their governments no longer retain any semblance of legitimacy.

    1.  You want out from under the thumb of corporations?

      Stop subscribing to their consumption-only services like Cable TV.  Stop watching drivel crap on broadcast TV.  Stop buying expensive things from them.  Buy a house within your means and pay it off as quickly as possible.  Eat at local restaurants instead of national or international chains.  Don’t chase gadgets and other new things just because they’re new and different.  Reduce consumption and reuse when practical.  Be satisfied with much of what you have and learn to enjoy that rather than requiring the same growth that corporations demand for your own personal happiness.

      It’s hard.  It’s VERY hard.  But you don’t have to live out in a shack in the woods in order to achieve it.

      1. Yes, these are very good tips. And I’m mostly doing all of them already. (not sure if you were actually trying to respond to me..)

        My point was, at some point the federal gummint will be pretty much non-existent. So you’ll pay your tithe in grain and water to the 1st Free Texan Militia, or whatever.

      2. So… If I’m getting this correctly: in order to exercise my fundamental rights laid out by the Constitution of the United States of America… I have to buy fewer… things? Right? 

        So, it works like this:
        buy fewer …things
        steal underpants
        Profit! er,  fundamental rights! 

  11. They more than likely want to keep the public thinking the entire issue was a bunch of malcontents who had nothing better to do.
    They want to avoid people looking into the police blowing off the family of a deceased boy, and when they finally felt they could be bothered to say something it was far to little far to late.
    They want to avoid people looking at a society that looks down on people “not like them” and the extreme measures being used against “the others” with no justification needed beyond them being “an other”.
    They want to avoid people questioning why people pushed down harder and harder to support the wealthy might have a reason to grow angry and push back.
    They want to avoid showing they lacked control and were being brutal to people trying to use terror to keep “the others”, in their place.

    Now this is not to say I support rioting and assaulting people to get your message out, but for people on the outside to understand what pushed it to far they need to understand the situation. 
    The Government does not want people to know how horrific things have become for some of their citizens, they want people to stay in the little bubble where they just assume everyone’s life experiences are the same as their own. 
    That the burdens being placed on some to support the reality of a few are tremendous and a society can not and should not grind the many underfoot to keep a few happy.  The disparity among citizens would shock the average viewer and make them question the Government, and we can’t have that.

  12. I’m sorry UK, I know you’re trying, but there’s no getting around it. This is what happens when you don’t WRITE DOWN your constitution.

    For all the snotty teachers who have jumped up my ass about note taking, you do not get a pass.

    1. It also happens when a country ties its fate too closely to the US which DOES have a constitution like when the USA threatened to cut off the UK from all intelligence gathering if the UK dared to make public details of America torturing UK citizens.

  13. Hand a DVD to an intern and have them put it up on YouTube on an account unaffiliated with BBC corporate. Done.

    If necessary, mail a copy to someone in Canada. Fuck, I’ll do it, Beeb, and I’ll even reimburse you for the fucking international postage.

    And remember, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. How’s that feel, you bunch of numpty bureaucrats?

    1. Then, the U.K. and/or Canada can have their OWN Bradly Manning showtrial. Keeping up with the Joneses! (Oh wait, Manning hasn’t even landed in his own kangaroo court, yet.)

      1. Bring it on, Judge John Doe of somewhere in the UK. Just because we didn’t earn our independence from your island by force doesn’t mean we’re still your lapdogs.

        On the other hand, the UK seems quite eager to deport one of their own citizens, guilty of no crime domestically, to the US, so I fear a Manning-ing would be a done deal if it was leaked locally.

  14. Delicious censorship.

    This might fly when it comes to television broadcast, but there’s bollocks all they can do to stop them hosting it on their site.

  15. it WAS just kids, yobs, & louts being kids, yobs, & louts – take our word for it you do not need to see any actors voicing the words of those involved in order to have a better understanding of why mass disorder occurred. 

    1. You may not want to know, but I would like to have insight into why kids became kids, yobs and louts last year. It would give me a better understanding of why they behaved like that. Why the deterrents were ineffective,  what they felt they were risking and what they thought they could gain.

      1. I don’t think there are enough empty cells in the UK  for  ALL Banksters, Politicians and Judges but am happy to try.

        Apologies for people who thought me in favour of censorship – my inability with words!
        I do not think the rioters were kids, yobs and louts just out for fun…I DO think that the massive split in our society needs to be discussed. I DO NOT think that Politicos, Banksters & Judges would like for it to be discussed but would prefer us hignorant wage slaves to accept their version – regardless of merit…

      1. I think the massive injustice that has been building for a helluva long time triggered it – certainly – which is why I am favour of honest discussion not censorship and not some crusty wig wearing turd telling  me what should and shouldn’t be questioned.
        I thought I’d made that clear in my response to Antonius…

          1. it did and was meant that way, as a  means of expressing disgust with how all in positions of power think that an interweb enabled community can still be brushed off with nanny state bullshit…it was, however, pisspoorly delivered in the ironing stakes

            sorry :(

            (and yes all Daily Mail readers should go to Jail – as I seriously don’t like em)

          2. One of the great challenges of our times is accurately portraying sly sarcasm on the internet whilst not explicitly stating that you’re being sarcastic.

            I feel your pain.

  16. It is probably because LOCOG rules don’t allow the brands of sportswear being looted to be shown on TV until after the Olympics for fear of upsetting sponsors.

  17. It was a secret hearing, we are not allowed to know about. 

    we are not allowed to know either the Judge’s name or which Court this Order was from. 

    Dear people in Scotland / Ireland, Please kindly twitt Judge’s name so that we can name and shame this Judge and the judiciary that is involved in this shameful, oppressive and cowardly act. This is not Justice, our judges and judiciary are becoming more like those in Egypt under the Mubarak everyday.

    Those Judges want to stay anonymous should be removed from the payroll of the UK tax payers. We should have them extradited to any country that will have them.

    Perhaps our Judges should wear their wig back to front, then we will never know their identity. Perhaps they should consider wearing a Burka instead of issuing banning orders to prevent us knowing their identity.

  18. Great.  Now I have the Clash in my head yelling that they want a riot of their own.

    “All the power’s in the hands
    Of people rich enough to buy it”

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