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This letter was sent to Sir John Butterfill MP (Conservative, Bournemouth West) on 13th October 2009.
Dear Sir John Butterfill,
The Internet has been buzzing today with the news that the Guardian newspaper was prevented from publishing a question that is due to be answered by the Secretary of State for Justice tomorrow (Wednesday 14th October). This action was brought about by solicitors Carter-Ruck on behalf of their client, Trafigura.
Regardless of the nature of the question and of the Guardian and Trafigura’s less-than-amiable relationship, I’m concerned about this clear attempt to restrict a fundamental freedom of the press - to report on activities at Westminster - by lawyers acting in the interests of a large multinational corporation.
Although Carter-Ruck have (as of about 1.30pm today) dropped their gag order, this kind of thing could easily happen again in the future, and next time the legal challenge may not be dropped so quickly.
I would like to know if you or your Party would support a proposal strengthening and clarifying the right of the press to report on parliamentary activity, to ensure that this situation does not happen again.