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Greenslade

Press freedom the loser as McKennitt wins

I am sorry that Niema Ash has had to settle with Loreena McKennitt over a privacy court case. It is a personal disappointment for Ash, a genuinely warm woman with a big heart, and could well prove to be a dramatic landmark as far as press freedom in general is concerned.

Ash has agreed not to publish a second edition of her book, Loreena McKennitt: My Life as a Friend. She had already dropped certain passages from the first edition after a trial in which McKennitt claimed successfully that certain passages intruded into her privacy and thereby interfered with her human rights.

The court's decision in favour of McKennitt, a Canadian singer-songwriter, was backed up the appeal court, and the rulings mark a major shift in media law towards protecting the privacy of the famous.

McKennitt asked to meet me after I wrote sympathetically about Ash's plight. Although I agreed to see her she didn't go ahead with the meeting. What her contact made clear was that she believed the issue did not relate to press freedom or even the freedom of expression.

That was also the burden of her message sent yesterday from the United States, in which she said: "This was never a case about suppressing genuine journalistic investigation of matters of genuine public interest.

"I passionately believe that if an aspect of one's career places one directly in the public eye or if extraordinary events make an ordinary person newsworthy for a time, we all should still have the basic human dignity of privacy for our home and family life."

She added: "I would like to thank all those journalists who have reported on this matter fairly and accurately." I guess that doesn't include me. However, having read both editions of Ash's books, I stick by my original viewpoint.

There was nothing in either book that genuinely intruded into McKennitt's privacy. Nor was it, in any way, a kiss-and-tell book. It was a serious attempt to tell a story about the effects of fame on a person. It was a valid story and Ash's human rights have been violated by the fact that she cannot publish it.

Anyway, all the bits that upset McKennitt have already been published in Canada and the United States. As so often, it is British courts that have been overly restrictive.

Comments

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ryeats

Comment No. 722288
October 5 17:41

i note project freesheet has taken up your fearless crusade roy against freesheets littering the streets and tube carriages of london. well done! it shows the power of the press. like you i think the sooner we control these freesheets the better.

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Loreena

Comment No. 723183
October 6 17:04

We are not surprised that Mr Greenslade, as a former tabloid editor continues to support the invasion of privacy of well known people. It is disappointing however that his brand of journalism involves speaking only to one side of this matter as he has at no time ever sought to speak with me. Although he has spoken with Ms Ash at length and has indicated that he has read both of her books, one does wonder if he has bothered to read either Justice Eady's judgment of November 2005 or that of the Court of Appeal of November 2006.

If so, how could he overlook such integral ingredients to the case such as the beefed up witness statements Ms Ash furnished regarding a property dispute (para 106-128) which form the foundation of her public interest defence in the privacy case; (para 127) ; how her unhappiness with the settlement of that dispute was the motivation for her book and how she wished to leverage that against my privacy and reputation; how the judge found her prone to lie (para 116)or how she was unable to objectively take into account what she had done in breaching my privacy including a period of bereavement?( Para 91)

Either Mr Greenslade does not know these facts, carelessly glosses over them or deliberately leaves them out in the numerous articles he has written on this case, none of which instils confidence in the reader that anything he might have to say regarding freedom of expression or otherwise is worthy of their consideration.

If Mr Greenslade would like to extend freedom of expression to the degree to which he would share this side of the story, now that the legal proceedings are over, he just has to ask.

It is regrettable that some journalists and media outlets, perhaps in their own self interest continue to feed the obsessive behaviour of individuals like Ms Ash.

Every time I see this case referenced in other privacy cases, I am deeply proud that it has been endorsed by the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords and now continues to be built on to protect the dignity of privacy for everyone, including Mr Greenslade's.

In the meantime he could spare the reader his lamentations regarding the threat of freedom of expression when it appears he hasn't even undertaken the basic tenants of good journalism, i.e factual accuracy and balanced reporting. As a long standing reader of the Guardian it is hard to take him seriously.


Loreena McKennitt
Stratford , Ontario, Canada

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dlaws99

Comment No. 723612
October 7 1:14

People are not public property even if your career happens to put you in the public eye, and freedom of the press does not grant carte blanche to pry into every square inch of somebody's life under the rubric of "expression". There is a line where public access ends and personal sovereignty begins. A line that when crossed goes out of bounds. British courts defined that line. Live with it, Roy.

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ShanLyn

Comment No. 723695
October 7 3:23

In perceptive conscience, it is obvious to see that the waters run deep within this private situation, which somehow became street litter as it became unfolded for all public eye to witness, when it actuality, it should have been kept in private. A restlessness of spirit with one not able to cope with loss, swerved onto a path endeavoring to redeem what they believed they had lost. Unfortunately, the 'redemption path' did not serve well for the one seeking, as it encroached on the path of another, who all along, kept ascertaining that it should remain a private issue. What was the one in the house to do, to keep the one in the street from propagating and exposing what should have been kept in the house to begin with? Was she to keep looking out of the window whilst someone out in public wanted to own rights to her essence? So much so the drama deepened, that 'principle' was called upon. "Not one iota of essence, will you have of me, even down to aspirin". And so, the ink was flung back and forth. To the point, where public Courts of balance had to enter in objectivity. The issues were weighed, the money was blamed and the vultures played. The 'Journalistic Media' became tempted for the ruckus was hard to ignore. It is true that the pen is mightier than the sword, but - as with everything else - these are but tools or implements where one has liberty of Will to decide how to apply the tool in action. As a journalist myself, I came to realize that Loreena McKennitt was the one behind the window, who never wanted this dramatic display to begin with. She never blamed the Journalistic Media, for the way in which I see it is that she understood way in advance that the temptation for the 'Journalistic Media' to play this out to their standards would be tempted to do so. Hence, she not only had one individual on her hands to have to contend with, who would not respect the privacy of her very essence, but as well, 'some' of the 'Journalistic Media' who decided to throw their stones as well. Not once, did Loreena McKennitt ever blame or accuse the 'Journalistic Media', except only to take stance against those with vicious blows. Not once, did Loreena McKennitt ever prejudicedly claim that "all journalists were wrong". Now that equilibrium has been extended to her by Courts, she decided to explain her deepest sincereties and reasonings to the 'Journalistic Media', not for the heightening of her 'public image', as her nemesis kept believing, but for the sake pacifying what became utterly distorted in this entire "public brawl". Which never should have been made public to begin with. Aye, indeed, it's a careful weighing of sensitive reasoning.

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Elisabetta

Comment No. 724080
October 7 14:28

Hi all,
I'm agree with Ms Loreena McKennitt..all that Loreena say is exact, I think the freedom of press is there but is there a limit for all...!good Loreena for your article!
Elisabetta from Italy

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ChristianWalters

Comment No. 724123
October 7 15:43

Sorry Roy. I understand this is a blow for you.

Digging through the trash heaps of famous people is certainly a lot easier than doing real journalism. Understanding complex issues that truly affect people can be so darn hard. If you can't dig freely into the lives of famous folks, you have little choice but to find honest work.

You're running out of people to exploit! You're going to have to start getting permission! Niema Ash was the only one who understood your plight, and she's been silenced because a Canadian singer intimidated the entire British legal system. (Queen Elizabeth should be grateful that Ms. McKennitt didn't set her sights higher.)

I suggest you tabloid writers out there take a couple days off. Lick your wounds. The rest of us will do our best to muster some sympathy. Don't take too long, though -- we might find we can live without exploitative stories and fluff pieces.

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simonsomething

Comment No. 724545
October 8 9:18

Surely the most interesting point about Loreena's defence of her actions is that she describes herself as "a well-known person". That might be the case in the Americas, but here, she's 'that woman nobody has ever heard of apart from relating to this case'.

Leaving asides the rights and wrongs of the content of the book, perhaps Loreena might care to explain why she brought her actions in a country where it'd be surprising if sales of the book would ever make three figures, rather than in the country where she is, indeed, well-known? Is it just because our courts are softer?

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Loreena

Comment No. 726435
October 9 0:52


Hello Simon,

The reason this case was obliged to be addressed in the UK was because Ms Ash resides there and her self publishing firm is registered there.

You are right, my music is not as well known in the UK as it is in other places and it may be a bizarre consequence of this case that I am better known as a result of it rather than my music.

I cannot speak to any other case, but I can assure you, from my experience the UK tax payers still have a very robust legal system. And I would argue, unless we as a society want to be tried by media when grievances arise, it might be best to support the legal systems we have in place and improve upon them as needed and as best we can.

As important as this case has been to me personally, as a member of a society which cherishes all human rights including freedom of expression as well as the right to privacy, I have become equally as concerned about how this case has been dealt with by some media and what the broader implications are for our democratic society.

In order to undertake this broader analysis, I realise there deserves to be a consensus about what this case actually involved.

As I point out in my initial response to Mr Greenslade, there was much more than was revealed to the public.

Since Mr Greenslade is regarded as a media expert, perhaps in serving the public's interest I could invite him to clarify his position regarding the following questions.

1.In so far as the judge found Ms Ash prone to lie and that her public interest defence rested on a fabricated story regarding a property dispute of some years ago and in which Ms Ash furnished "beefed up" witness statements, (November 2005 judgment para 106-128) why was this information never spoken to by Mr Greenslade in his numerous articles covering the case?

2. Even though Ms Ash had signed a confidentiality agreement as an employee, and admits in both versions of her book that I "cherished my privacy and reputation," she is now seen to have adopted a similar strategy as she did during the above property dispute of 2001, i.e to deliberately set out to damage my privacy and reputation through the threat of publicity. To make his point, in para 120, Justice Eady quotes a letter Ms Ash sends her solicitor at the time, whereby Ms Ash writes,

"As you know Loreena is not concerned about money, nor friendship, her main vulnerability is her reputation, which she guards jealously, and this is our strongest bargaining point".

Justice Eady goes on to say, "It is quite clear that this is why the "primary contention" was adopted of pretending that the original advance had been a gift. It was hoped that the fear of publicity would deter Ms McKennitt from insisting upon her rights."

Given that the judge made clear that Ms Ash was prepared to lie regarding this matter, that her likely motivation for the book was her unhappiness with the property settlement and her tool was a threat of publicity, why did Mr Greenslade not speak to Ms Ash' s motivation? Did he not feel it in the public's interest to know?

3.Mr Greenslade has indicated that he has read both books which include intimate details of a period of bereavement after the loss of my fiancÚ. It is his view that there is nothing here that should be regarded as private. The judge on the other hand found much of this material "remarkably intrusive" as did the Court of Appeal. (see Court of Appeal judgment) In so far as there is a difference of opinion between Justice Eady, the three judges of the Court of Appeal and Mr Greenslade, on what basis would Mr Greenslade suggest this difference of opinion be resolved? In what way is revealing a person's grieving process serving the true public interest and not simply their prurient curiosity? Why has he never mentioned the issue of my bereavement as material I sought to keep private?

4. In the interests of factual and balanced journalism , what efforts did Mr Greenslade make to ensure his position was well founded whilst knowing that the courts frown on litigants speaking with and through the press? In what ways had he undertaken steps to ensure that both sides of the story were properly represented? What duty does he feel to his readership to ensure that his position was well researched?

5.Could Mr Greenslade speak to how his history with tabloids may have coloured his approach to this story?

6. The right to privacy is enshrined in both the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. How does Mr Greenslade characterise the value of privacy? Can he speak to the difference between secrecy, privacy and simply living one's life relatively unobserved? Is the implication of his writing on this case such that the quality of privacy should only be available for anonymous individuals? Is he advocating the elimination of the right to privacy found in the aforementioned declarations and conventions altogether? And if not, what kind and degree of privacy would he like to see afforded well known people and why?

7. In so far as Mr Greenslade is himself a well known person, does he value his privacy and what steps does he take, if any, to protect it and why? For example, in so far as activities undertaken in people's homes are common place and to some, rather anodyne, would he mind if there was a web cam placed in his home and broadcast on the internet for the world to see and if so why or why not? Would he agree to he and his family being followed through the street night and day , on his holidays, to his doctor's appointments? If not, why?

8.Could Mr Greenslade please explain in what way the outcome of this case has compromised the capacity for reporters and journalists to pursue matters of true public interest and not simply serving their prurient curiosity?

9. As the trend for 'celebrity' content grows wider, what does Mr Greenslade have to offer veteran reporters like the one from the BBC whom I met in Los Angeles this spring, who had just returned from covering the conflict in Iraq for the past 5 years, only to be re-assigned to cover David Beckham and Paris Hilton in Los Angeles? What are the broader implications for reporters and journalists such as this reporter and the kind of content some editors cause them and the public to focus on?

10. At a time when certain media outlets pay paparazzi exorbitant amounts of money for 'exclusive' and personal photos, could Mr Greenslade explain how these photos are in the true public's interest and not simply their own commercial interests?

11.Could Mr Greenslade speak to the disintegration of the media's economic model and the role this is playing in causing some media to procure cheap content through the building and sustaining of the factory of "celebrity news?". Could he please speak to what he knows about the revenue generated from what one could call "celebrity trolling" and what percentage of revenue is generated through this content stream at the Guardian?

12.If it is accepted that significant commerce surrounds the collating of this kind of information, in a case like mine in which the media tried to intervene at the Court of Appeal stage, when a conflict arises, how does the media determine whose interest to serve, their own or the public's?

13. What are Mr Greenslade's comments on the Information Commissioner's report "What Price Privacy?" At a time when there have been journalist/reporters sent to jail for illegally wiretapping the royal household's telephones (and broadcasters are found fixing game shows,) what mechanisms should be in place to protect the public's interest? Does he think an organisation such as the PCC is sufficient given that the head of it has written his own tell-all book and some could argue, as an organisation, has been only reluctantly responsive to many unwarranted intrusions on the private lives of well known people?

14. Given that some individuals like Ms Ash and some media outlets share an interest in trading on the privacy and reputation of well known people, and given that some media not only misrepresented this case to the public, but one could argue encouraged her obsessions, and given that the media tried to insert itself into the Court of Appeal process in support of her application, what response does Mr Greenslade have to the tax payers of England who, along with myself ended up shouldering the financial burden of this pursuit and who may feel it has been artificially and negligently sustained at their expense?

15. What substantiation would Mr Greenslade have to support Ms Ash's assertion she was penniless, when she and her husband were found trying to sell two of their properties this past spring in the region of 900,000 pounds?

16.Does Mr Greenslade ever worry that if the commercial media is not held accountable in a meaningful way there will be fewer people of integrity who will bother to assume public positions or adopt professions which have public dimensions to them ?

17. In so far as freedom of expression is felt not just by expressing one's opinion, but by the scale of which that opinion is heard, would Mr Greenslade work with his editor to share these concerns with the Guardian's larger readership and enter into a true debate about the accountability of the media?

I accept that it would have taken some investment in time doing research, fact checking, studying the judgements and perhaps speaking to some legal experts to truly have a grasp on this case, but I do feel it is the true quid pro quo that we as a society should expect of our media if they are expecting us to endow them with the carte blanche of unfettered freedom of expression and free speech.

In paragraphs 91-92 ,of his November 2005 judgment, Justice Eady addresses Ms Ash's nature.

(para 91) "One of the difficulties about Ms Ash's evidence, and the presentation of her case as an advocate in person, is that she is not capable of standing back and making any kind of dispassionate or objective assessment of her motivation or of the consequences of what she has done. She is clearly resentful towards Ms McKennitt and finds it difficult to move on from the breakdown in that relationship."

(para 92) "Indeed, Mr Browne has submitted that Ms Ash's preoccupation with Ms McKennitt and her activities and her somewhat obsessive attitude towards her is borne out by the curious remark which she made while Ms McKennitt was in the witness box:

"I am going to say most of my book is almost a love letter to Ms McKennitt".

In the end, one cannot see this story evolution over time, as anything but one of relentless pursuit by a person seeking their own fame and encouraged by some media who have a vested interest.

We all know by now that much of the world's media is owned and controlled by private and commercially driven interests, and that their business model is floundering .

In this day and age it takes two to tango as it pertains to all of this 'celebrity' business. In other words, if it was not in the media's interests to build and trade in "celebrity' gossip, they would not do so and they would leave every publicity seeking individual to wallow in their own obscurity.

At a time when an inquiry will once again review the role of the paparazzi in the death of Lady Diana, when commercial interests such as Google are placing ever increasing pressures on what is or is not acceptable in our society as it pertains to surveillance and the 'right to know'; when we are at the early days of understanding the consequences of entities such as Facebook , the concern for privacy and our ability to live our lives without undue and relentless observation ,is going to be increasingly the domain of "anonymous folk' and not just the well known.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a quote from a recently published book called 'Media Freedom under the Human Right's Act' by Fenwick and Phillipson, a book the consortium of media interests ironically tried to rely upon in their submission to the Court of Appeal in this case.

"The media often appear Janus-faced: on the one hand, they can be characterised as the fearless guardians of the people as watch-dogs and safeguarding democracy...
...On the other hand, the media are prepared on occasions to tear lives apart by invading privacy, or destroying reputations, and (more rarely) to render fair criminal trials impossible, through prejudicial coverage, often largely or wholly motivated by commercial concerns."

And in this regard, it is my opinion, that we do need to concern ourselves more with the mechanics and ownership of our media , how they influence our societies, our opinions, our laws and indeed our democracies. And this should be the real debate falling out from this privacy case.


Loreena McKennitt,

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Lilyji

Comment No. 727908
October 9 16:45

Loreena misses the point re: Roy Greenslade's comments about Mckennitt v. Ash.

The book, "My Life as a Friend" which I have read, is wholly innocuous. All this righteous talk about "invasion of privacy" is pretty thin. There is no pillow talk, or state secrets, or sexual confessions or very much that most of her friends and acquaintances didn't know about anyway. It is about a friendship gone wrong - and why. I'm sure the courts chose to use this case to set a precedent for other far more more influential people who mightfeel threatened by an invasion of their privacy - especially royalty.Roy Greenslade is right; the bar has been set too low. It amounts to censorship, and anyone writing about any living person - whether for journalism or biography is going to be challenged.

The way the case went - and its outcome is more of a statement about who has the greater wealth and power than justice. This can't be good for freedom.

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IrNfromParis

Comment No. 728046
October 9 17:33

(First of all, I'm french and I apologize for any grammatical mistakes)

To begin: a quick answer to Lilyji.
You have absolutely no capacity to put yourself instead of someone else.
No empathy at all (and no notion of psychology too):
the invasion of privacy has nothing to see with hiding "a big shammy secret".
It has to deal with the fact that everyone has the right to master his life as he wants.
The right to share your personal history, your beliefs , your way of life and everything which make you, you.
And this with who you want and when you want.


Now what I began to write last sunday and I wanted to post here

Isn't it a little bit easy to scream "it's a blow to freedom of expression" ?
Do we really want a world were our neighbor could publish something and everything about us because we quarreled about a wall or because we received people at home he doesn't like, or because he's jealous of our garden -or our life- ?


Freedom of expression for me is not about the right to say all we want, it has been created to be sure that no government censures real journalists and to protect them when they do their job (and I'm talking about this thing with an ethic, not a job which consists to harass famous people to make money with THE bikini picture of I don't know who).

Two days ago I saw "Medecins du Monde" 's exposition in Paris.
There was 34 terrific photos about war, famine, deaths, rapes, AIDS, poverty and others joy of this wonderful world with text about how the journalist managed -and sometimes "dared" as it was hard for him to do it- to make the picture and how the media we not interested by it.

We could read many interesting things about the fact that, sometimes, humanity help comes in places which was covered by the media.
The texts were written by information's magazines "leader" or "simple" journalist about subjects like:
"How do you explain that certain humanitarian crises are forgotten while others are given excessive media coverage".
"we need to stand up against this hierarchy which imposes itself on us" and how everything is linked : media, the use of crises for political ends, the majors international powers...
or "the readers also have their share of responsibility".


So, after that, to take a part of someone's private life to make a book of it, can absolutely not be compared with journalism!
More, it would be a real insult for those who did the incredible work I saw 2 nights ago!


And I can say more: I was responsible in a commission of Act Up Paris, world famous AIDS association in the 90's, well known to work with the media and I know how, year after year it became more difficult to pass our message. Not that we didn't meet the journalists or send them press releases, but, as on TV or in newspapers, the brain washing did its work.
Perhaps people were not interested by seeing true informations, more attracted by tabloids and reality shows. But it was not a reason to feed them with this.
It's also the work of the media to dare to speak about hard subjects and not to take the easy way out.

I'll finally add that, as I was myself morally harassed for years, I know what nightmare it can be to feel dispossessed of your life and how strong you need to be to keep your mind clear, first to admit that it's the fault of the harasser and not drawn in unfair culpability, after to not be afraid of everyone else as a potential harasser.
And, in what I see, Mrs McKennitt reacted very well: going in court was perhaps the only thing to do against an obsessive person because there's something very insane and pathologic in these people.
What is missing in the life of those like paparazzi or so-called journalists that they need so much to know what there is in the life of someone else?!
What push them all to be so avid of other people's secret garden?!
Lack of something? Thirst for power? Jealousy ? ...


So, really, congratulations and thank you to Mrs McKennitt and each one who worked on this case to manage to make recognize these so important values which are private life and true journalism.

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dlaws99

Comment No. 728253
October 9 20:50

Lilyji...That of course is merely your opinion. I could read that book and come away with a completely different opinion. This is why we have courts. Obviously Loreena didn't find the book so innocuous and the British courts (2 of them) didn't find the arguments so thin. "Freedom" isn't a license to do any damm thing you want to someone else. Roy is just crying in his beer...

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mannensom

Comment No. 728323
October 9 22:06

You also have to remember that when Loreena quotes Mr Justice Eady's judgement from 2005 she is not quoting scripture. English law, and that includes Eady's judgement, has nothing to do with the truth. What Loreena is quoting are known as "findings of fact", which is something completely different from the truth; there isn't space to develop here, but I'm sure it can be looked up on Wikipedia or something. And whoever above thought Niema is "obsessed": it's the other way around, Loreena is the one who's obsessed, just look at read the rants above.

Incidentally, my name is Gunnar Pettersson, not "mannensom", I just couldn't register as "Gunnar". I have known both protagonists for many years and write a blog about the case on http://www.powrd.demon.co.uk/ark/mckennittvash.htm

Do visit. And bring a friend.

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IrNfromParis

Comment No. 728382
October 9 23:26

Well, perhaps she would not SEEMS to be obsessive if you all let her in peace now that the judgement is here. She's probably just protecting herself.

After I posted here some hours ago I was also thinking about something: Mrs McKennitt is a singer, a musician, a composer and... a writer, isn't it?
So, Mrs Ash never imagined once that a writer would prefer to talk about her life herself?

I mean... We know that some famous people pay others to write their "autobiography", pretending they wrote it themselves.
But a real writer needs to write and to express himself. It's more than a deep need. It's a way to be.
And it's something with no "trick", no "fake". No one behind.
It's a long internal project to write something autobiographic with your own words.
You're about to give a part of you!
So, even if it's just a supposition and I totally don't know if Mrs McKennitt had already planed to write something about herself, but as she is a writer I'm sure it came sometimes as a question in her mind because... it's on the way of a writer...
Then I truly understand that it's very hurting to see one friend do it instead of you whereas it's "your job" and, most of all, your life.

At this point, can we say that, Mrs Ash did this book by love? Apparently and obviously not.
A real friend doesn't do this kind of things.
Someone who loves you doesn't do something when you clearly told him that you don't like it, it hurts you or makes you sick, whatever it is.
It's the basis of friendship and of love.

But talking about obsession: I've had a look to your blog and I gave up to read it > you're talking only about this case but also about Mrs McKennitt following her in every movement !!!
I understood easily that you are linked in a way or another to Mrs Ash, but reporting everything about a Canadian singer at the other side of the Earth !!!....
It's a little bit freaky...

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Lilyji

Comment No. 728603
October 10 8:17

If I described Ash's book as "innocuous," it was not in any way to denigrate it. On the contrary, she is a real writer -not an opportunist, or celebrity chaser, as has been implied. She writes with feeling and insight, and the pain she felt at the breakdown of this friendship was utterly heartfelt. Loreena has been hurt by an invasion of her privacy. Ash has been hurt by the end of a very long and intimate friendship. Both have rights in this matter.

My main point was just that it didn't seem to justify the literally thousands of pounds which have been spent to protect what - yes - in my opinion - in the scale of things - is a rather thin sense of personal privacy. The consequence is a real barrier to writing a whole range of books and articles which go far beyond "Hello" magazine.

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mannensom

Comment No. 728801
October 10 10:13

Lilyji, I couldn't have put it better myself. And IrNfromParis, surely my blog about McKennitt v Ash isn't THAT freaky. I started writing about it on my regular, Swedish-language blog, in among lots of other issues to do with press and media, and then separated it into an English-language adjunct, because there was quite a lot of English-language interest in my reports, "from the coalface" of a case which became increasingly significant to press freedom and privacy legislation. I've seen a lot of freakier blogs than that, mon ami, haven't you?

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Malacatones

Comment No. 728964
October 10 11:13

I would like Mr Greenslade answer all the questions Ms Mckennitt asked him. One by one. Otherwise, If you can't as a former tabloid editor, I can suggest you think about looking for another job. Here in Spain, we are picking the grapes.
Loreena thanks for your explanation, it can be said louder but it can't be said more clear!!

Laura



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mannensom

Comment No. 729628
October 10 14:42

Laura: My view, for what it's worth, is that it's completely unrealistic to expect Roy Greenslade to answer such a huge, meandering and all too often difficult-to-decipher set of questions, on a range of subjects that he has already written about extensively, in the Guardian and elsewhere. For answers to most of them, why not delve into the archives?

However, had two of those questions (14 and 15) been put to me, these would have been my answers:

14. [...] what response does Mr Greenslade have to the tax payers of England who, along with myself ended up shouldering the financial burden of this pursuit and who may feel it has been artificially and negligently sustained at their expense?

It would be nice to think Ms McKennitt's concern for the tax payers of England had been as evident when she, herself, started the whole legal process in the autumn of 2005, and then re-started it in spring 2007.

15. What substantiation would Mr Greenslade have to support Ms Ash's assertion she was penniless, when she and her husband were found trying to sell two of their properties this past spring in the region of 900,000 pounds?

First of all, there is of course no obligation on Mr Greenslade to "substantiate" anything in "support" of what Ms Ash says; why on earth should he? Secondly, Ms Ash has never sold a property in her life. Her husband has, many times, because he is a property developer. And as such, he had nothing at all to do with his wife's book, even though Ms McKennitt's lawyers desperately tried to make out he did. She may pretend not to, but Ms McKennitt has always known very well that Ms Ash is, truly, "penniless" in that she has chosen, throughout her life, to live with absolutely no financial assets and, indeed, with as few possessions as possible. (Some might think this is an impossibly idealistic attitude; I myself think it's rather admirable). This is why some of us thought it foolhardy of Ms McKennitt to start proceedings against someone who has no assets, when a successful outcome would eventually require costs to be recovered.

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Loreena

Comment No. 730086
October 10 17:23


Yes Laura, it would be courteous and professionally responsible for Mr Greenslade to answer my questions. Given that there was a fair list of them, I have interpreted his delay as simply taking time to pull his thoughts together. Perhaps Mr Greenslade could give us an indication when he will be back to us.

Loreena

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DurrutiMontjuic

Comment No. 730143
October 10 18:12

It seems to me that the British publishing world is somehow still managing to turn very profitably on its axis despite this alleged body blow to its freedoms.

I see no sign of a clamp down on the day-to-day media chatterings about the doings of those basking in their 15 minutes of infamy, I see no books being hurridly removed from the shelves of Waterstones, the McCanns are still being shamelessly harried from pillar to post by all and sundry and I have absolutely no fear that this generation of Paul Foots (wherever they may be hiding) are going to be stymied in their quest for truth and justice - assuming of course that truth and justice are of any interest to the editors of national newspapers engaged in a circulation war fought over free DVDs and a determination to race the Daily Mail to the nearest gutter.

So I for one would really like to see Mr Greenslade address as many of the questions as possible as soon as possible so that we can cut through some of the over-excited playground babble and the regurgitation of semi-digested ideas and get instead straight to the nut of the issue - what actually occurred in court and what does the judgment really mean for journalism and the art of the biographer?

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LaredoR

Comment No. 730194
October 10 19:00

Ah mennonsom/Gunnar, I'm sorry that you are so troubled by those pesky little things called "the facts" (see post 728323) and I suggest that therein lies the difficulty you are having in understanding and accepting McKennitt's questions to Mr. Greenslade.
We are all looking forward to his answers and I hope that he can address them soon without resorting to more disinformation. Similarly, a read of your own blog on the subject of Mckennit vs Ash (which you promote here) reveals repetitions of errors which are easily countered by the detailed judgments in the case. While I can applaud (or at least understand) the blindness of your close friendship with Ash and the need to accept her perception of the "truth" in order to support her, sadly, the facts and their consequences do eventually come home to roost.
Fortunately, the victory that Loreena has achieved is one in which we will all benefit.
As modern society and information technology careens forward, the time
is upon us when the very definition of what is a Person and what is
private home and family life is in danger of evaporating before it is
even firmly established. Common law through the centuries has taken it
for granted or placed it in subservience to government or corporations.
Privacy of thoughts and experience (perhaps the most fundamental of
human rights) has to exist in a meaningful way before freedom of
expression (or artistry like McKennitt's) can thrive. It is folly of the
worst kind for us to not question the vested interests at work in the
press, in the internet, and in security and defence policy and infrastructure.

There is no way that Mckennitt could have anticipated that she would be caught up in a lengthy and painful legal battle (and find herself establishing precedent in the UK) when she first set out simply to enforce the clear confidentiality provisions of an employment contract. She should not be subject to character assassination by the consortium of media giants who lined up against her trying to interfere in the Court of Appeal, nor by the confused confessions of a self-published writer clearly bereft at the loss of what had once been friendship and loyalty. I for one am grateful that McKennitt had the fortitude and resources to survive it and fully understand her need to set the record straight.

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mlivingstone

Comment No. 730220
October 10 19:23

In anticipation of a response to Ms. McKennit's questions, I have been silently monitoring Roy Greenslade's "Press freedom the loser as McKennitt wins" BLOG for several days now.

The queries were thought provoking and interesting and I hope the responses will be equally as intriguing. I wait with bated breath. I too, hope the delay in his response is for some detailed reflection and study of Ms. McKennitt's post.

Michael (New York, NY)

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mannensom

Comment No. 730231
October 10 19:37

Dear LaredoR - I don't have a lot to say about your excellent opinions, they're perfectly respectable, but I think I'll stick to mine for the time being, until something more convincing comes along. A couple of things, though: the phrase "findings of fact" is a legal phrase which does NOT mean that the judge's findings have anything to do with the facts (oddly enough, I know - welcome to the English legal system!) It essentially means that the judge has decided to believe one version of events instead of another, BUT whether his belief then matches what you and I know to be really "the facts" - i.e. the thing that really happened, the authentic truth - is irrelevant. The "findings of fact" - for example, the blatant untruth that Niema lied in the property dispute - will forever stand, unfortunately.

Then you say this: "There is no way that Mckennitt could have anticipated that she would be caught up in a lengthy and painful legal battle (and find herself establishing precedent in the UK) when she first set out simply to enforce the clear confidentiality provisions of an employment contract." First of all, the employment contract - and this is quite strange - never became much of an issue in the various hearings, and I'm as mystified by that as anyone. So Loreena's lawyers obviously didn't find it particularly relevant, or we would have heard much more about it, for sure. But, honestly, do you seriously mean to say that Loreena and her presumably on-the-ball legal team could not have anticipated that Niema would appeal a decision against her...??!! Then they're either incompetent or stupid, and any cheques Loreena has issued to them should be stopped forthwith.

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Malacatones

Comment No. 730247
October 10 19:58

Gunnar Pettersson "it's completely unrealistic to expect Roy Greenslade to answer such a huge, meandering and all too often difficult-to-decipher set of questions"
I'm sorry Gunnar but I am not a native english speaker and I have understood each question. I think you have understood it too. Where is the problem?
Laura

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dlaws99

Comment No. 730321
October 10 21:06

Hi Laura...I had no problem either. I thought each question very well articulated and go right to the heart of the issue. I noticed Roy hasn't responded to anything on this blog commentary. Either he's winding up for what he might think is a knock-out punch or she's pinned his ears back so far he can't respond. Either way, I don't anticipate anything substantive. When's the Rioja going to be ready?

//Dennis//

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NOsterberg

Comment No. 730354
October 10 21:39

I feel compelled, until now a silent yet dedicated observer of this matter, to respectfully ask Mr.Greenslade for a response to the comments posted on this blog, most particularly to those questions posed by Ms. McKennitt (726435). Mr. Greenslade, you must surely revel in the level of open discourse provoked by your comments - Sir won't you honour us with a response?

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mannensom

Comment No. 730357
October 10 21:41

Dear Laura: I'm as much a non-native English-speaker as you, but I didn't say I didn't understand. I said it was difficult to decipher. One example I have particular difficulties with is question 17:

"17. In so far as freedom of expression is felt not just by expressing one's opinion, but by the scale of which that opinion is heard, would Mr Greenslade work with his editor to share these concerns with the Guardian's larger readership and enter into a true debate about the accountability of the media?"

I would love for someone - Loreena herself, perhaps? - to explain in much, much, much plainer English what that question actually means. Is she asking Mr Greenslade to "work with his editor" to share... what "concerns" exactly? Going back slightly in the question, what does "the scale of which that opinion is heard" mean? Is it to do with The Guardian's ABC figures, the fact that it has a lot of readers around the world, and that therefore freedom of expression should be seen differently in The Guardian as opposed to somewhere else? I don't know. I'm not being sarcastic at all, I honestly don't understand.

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LaredoR

Comment No. 730428
October 10 22:45

Perhaps if Mr. Greenslade and Mr. Pettersson can get started on answering some of the easy ones the rest of us can help them both wade through those questions which are apparently too nuanced for those inside the barnyard. Long journey, small steps - I suggest we begin with "the facts".

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IrNfromParis

Comment No. 730484
October 11 0:12

Oh common Mr Pettersson! there's many (interesting) questions and there's not a single answer.


Does Mr Greenslade think he's God by watching us in his own creation and keeping silence?

It's easier to say nothing isn't it? No implication, no responsibility.
And most of all, no "really mandering" and untrue answers.

...


I've red more your blog and, you're right, it's not so freaky: even if you (as Mrs Ash) spent your time to describe Mrs McKennitt as a monster, you didn't manage to frighten me.
I have my opinion about how and why Mrs McKennitt reacted like this.

...


Mrs Ash clams everywhere that this book is about her own life, but, someone with a well-balanced mind would have written a book about himself with 1 chapter (ok, let's say 2 or 3 because they spent almost 20 years as friends) about "The Friend", and not a total book.

Don't dare to tell us it's not an obsessive way to behave and Mrs McKennitt over-reacted!

What would have been Mrs McKennitt if she had let this behavior without answer?
She reacted in her interest but also the interest of each one of us.
Because it's another big principle of this world : what happen to someone can happen to everyone.

...

Another point is interesting: you say in your blog that Mrs Ash is David and Mrs McKennitt, Goliath in a kind of "wretched-ist" description (a very good method to catch the poor brains, generally used by the tabloids and voyeuristic shows) , but, you said also here that "Goliath" established precedent in the UK.
So isn't it a little bit incoherent ?

David was perhaps more the one who rose in front of all the system and manage to establish this precedent where many had failed before.

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ShanLyn

Comment No. 730532
October 11 1:43

Mr. Greenslade, please don't flatter yourself in thinking that by "brushing Loreena McKennitt aside" and ignoring her questions will preserve your integrity. If anything, the opposite would transpire.

I've lost count as to how many times Big Ben has played out the 12th hour. I'm eagerly anticipating your replies to what I find to be a very organized and coherent display of Loreena McKennitt's questions. I would be quite disappointed if they would go unanswered.

If you have no intentions of answering these questions - for whatever private and personal reasons of your own - then I beseech you to at least have the courtesy to allow those in waiting know of your decision.

In the meantime, I will go home with 'lit fireworks' for Loreena, as you seem to have run out of water in your plumbing system to fizzle the fire out.

Shan-Lyn

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Taidgh

Comment No. 730565
October 11 3:13

I find it rather amusing that some seem to be seriously expecting Mr Greenslade to reply to Loreena McKennitt's list of "questions", most of which seem to be merely thinly veiled efforts to needle Mr Greenslade. Ms McKennitt has gained what would have seemed an improbable legal victory, but she seems still dissatisfied that not everyone wishes to canonize her for it. It's up to Mr Greenslade, of course, whether and how to respond to those "questions", but I don't see how anyone can seriously expect it of him.

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mannensom

Comment No. 730621
October 11 7:50

Dear InFrom Paris: You say: "What would have been Mrs McKennitt if she had let this behavior without answer?" Well, one thing that would have happened if Ms McKennitt had not "answered" by going to the courts, is that we would not have been here talking about it, because no one would have heard of the book. That's the big clunking irony of the action Loreena chose to take.

And incidentally, I've never used the David and Goliath irony. Nimea has, though, and from some angles, perhaps not all, it's a pretty good analogy, I think.

I now have to go to work, so I shall leave you all to't for a day or two. Ta-ta.

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RoyGreenslade

Comment No. 730652
October 11 8:46

I am not going to answer a list of questions. However, lest anyone - including Ms McKennitt - thinks I am alone in worrying about the implications of her court victories, I want to draw attention to remarks in a Guardian article dated December 15, 2006

http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,1972723,00.html

Clare Dyer, the paper's legal editor, wrote: "The court of appeal delivered a blow yesterday to 'kiss and tell' celebrity exposes in a ruling described as a turning point in the development of English privacy law. Lawyers said the judgment would make it easier for celebrities to keep friends, former partners and ex-employees from selling details of their private lives to the media."
She quoted Hugh Tomlinson QC, an expert in privacy and media law at Matrix chambers, who said: "This judgment is a turning point in the development of English privacy law. It means the courts will not allow publication of 'kiss and tell' stories after the breakdown of a friendship or relationship.
"At the same time, the court of appeal rejected the argument that a person who tells their own story to the press gives up their future privacy rights. The effect on the tabloids could be dramatic."
She also quoted Caroline Kean, head of litigation at the law firm Wiggin, who said: "There is no doubt this could mean the end for kiss and tells." She added that unauthorised biographies could be particularly affected, she said. "For book publishers looking at an injunction, it's a very much more damaging thing [than for a newspaper]."
It was also the case, as Clare Dyer pointed out, that several media organisations, including the Publishers Association (which represents book publishers), had applied to intervene in the appeal because of the wider concern about the threat to freedom of expression.
I also draw your attention to Ms Kean's own article dated September 4, 2006
http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,,1864380,00.html
Furthermore, the article by Ms Ash's lawyer, Rupert Elliott, on February 13, 2006, is worth reading too
http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,,1708207,00.html
Then, turning to The Times on December 17, 2006, here is Mr Tomlinson again at
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article755998.ece

"It is a decisive step towards a fully fledged English privacy law via the [European] Court of Human Rights. The boundary between public and private life has been moved a long, long way. The position that has now been reached in English law is that anything that pertains to your private life, and that includes what you do in the street, such as going shopping, is private, and its publication will not be justified unless it contributes to a debate of public importance."

And here is Stephen Glover, in The Independent, on May 20, 2007:
http://news.independent.co.uk/media/article2563049.ece

"This striking judgment, which has been upheld by the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, could have profound consequences for journalists and authors. Public figures may be able to censor what is written about them not on the grounds that it is false but because it infringes their privacy - in particular, their right to have their private life respected as described in Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, incorporated into English law in 1998."

And here is Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, in a piece on the Index on Censorship website

http://www.indexonline.org/en/news/articles/2007/2/uk-courts-move-closer-to-privacy-law.shtml

"This [ruling] is the latest step in an alarming process of the civil courts in London developing case law that strikes at the heart of freedom of expression in the name of personal privacy...
Everyone is entitled to a private life but the courts should not be able to exercise prior restraint on the publication of stories about the activities of people such as singers, actors or politicians who put themselves in the public eye. If a publication is defamatory or otherwise actionable - let them sue."

Now, on the point raised about my tabloid background. I have not worked on a tabloid since 1991 and I have developed into a consistent critic of the tabloid agenda in recent years. I dislike kiss-and-tell stories, in part because they are devoid of context. The books by Ms Ash were full of context.

Finally, and crucially, I believe that people should be as free as possible to express themselves, even if it impinges on another person's privacy on occasion. I think there are things that should remain private, especially if a person does not live in the public eye. I think, however, that there is a price to be paid for fame and part of that price is a lesser hold on the right to privacy. You may all disagree, but that's what I feel. Let me elucidate on that point. The price is not always the same in every case. So the difference between me and Mr Justice Eady and the three appeal court judges (and, of course, Ms McKennitt) is that they set a different price on the matter than I do.

PS: Two points. 1. Loreena, why - having contacted me to request a meeting - did you not go through with it?
2. I contacted Quinlan Road after I had interviewed Ms Ash and was told that you would not wish to make a comment. So I was unable to balance the article as I wanted to, and you now say you would have wanted.


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DurrutiMontjuic

Comment No. 730671
October 11 9:03

I continue to await Mr Greenslade's response to the questions posed with growing interest.

I find that the market is a pretty reliable barometer of literary worth and to my knowledge Ms Ash has yet to trouble the lists of a major publisher with her insights into the lives of the famous.

Truly I would have profound concerns were the art of either the biographer or the historian truly threatened by this judgement. However, to my knowledge not one author of note has come to the public defence of this book and its author.

Given the incestuous mutual admitration society that is British publishing the silence from the literary community is deafening. All I can detect are the crocodile tears of cultural polluters defending the act of cultural pollution.

No, the clunking irony here is that Fleet Street and the Paganinis of Piffle who play their tune should be stuck with a self-published fantasy writer of obscure motive as the poster child for the defence of their so-called freedoms.

As for Ms Ash's defenders I find myself recalling the words of that great human rights campaigner and defender of artistic freedoms Victor Hugo - "A man's philosophy is the bed he lies on".

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KevinAnderson

Comment No. 730919
October 11 11:04

In Roy's defence, he has been trying to respond. To support his argument, he linked off to a number of websites - enough links in fact that the software thought he was a spammer and held his comment for moderation. Apologies to Roy, but also just to say that he had been trying to respond since yesterday.

best,
Kevin Anderson
Guardian Blogs Editor

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LaredoR

Comment No. 731523
October 11 14:38

I'm sorry, but in my view a bunch of links does not a response make. While we may all be grateful for the education on the subject I would be more impressed if more of them addressed the topic insted of wimping out. Why will he not answer a list of questions? You certainly would expect your interview subject to reply.
Yes, we know (thank you) that some media and media law commentators observe a shift in recognition by the courts that the principles embodied in the European Convention on Human Rights must now be taken into account. That's the law which they must apply.
It is absolutely clear Mr. Greenslade that you choose to draw the drapes of privacy very rarely (particularly on behalf of others) but I wonder if you are being truly rigourous or indeed consistent with your own rationale. This is the point (as i see it) of Ms. McKennitts questions to you.
In other places you have lamented that integrity is somewhat lacking in what remains of the profession of journalism. Perhaps Ms. McKennitt is only trying to help you get it back.

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Loreena

Comment No. 731597
October 11 14:59

Thank you Roy for the response you have given us so far.

I will be happy to reply to your questions, first in reverse order.

I have checked with all of my Quinlan Road colleagues and there is no evidence you approached my company directly. If you did, and it got lost in the fray, I am sorry for that. I would be willing to consider an interview with you now in a public forum if you would be so kind as to respond to my questions as well.

As for your first question, only this spring of 2007, after you had written so very much regarding this case and had yet sought to speak with me, and only AFTER the House of Lords came out refusing Ms Ash permission to appeal at that level, but BEFORE she had tried to released her 'revised' book did someone on my behalf in the UK seek to see if you would even be open to speaking with me. By the time you had replied, I had left the country and I never heard back that you had replied in the affirmative. In fact, I never heard back that you replied at all.

The reason this window of time was critical , -and as a veteran media expert, you must know- that the courts seriously frown on litigants speaking with and through the media as long as legal processes are in motion. Given that I chose to respect this aspect of the legal process and because Ms Ash did not , but rather continued to pursue this matter through the courts this past two years and half years, there have only been tiny windows whereby I was in a position to speak with any media. I would expect that any experienced media party would know that that would be my position and be the advice of my lawyers. It is therefore, unfortunate they would take advantage of that window of 'lock down' to interview only one side of the case knowing that NO ONE should be speaking with them.

So I guess that leads me to a few more questions Mr Greenslade.

18. Did you or did you not know that the courts seriously frown on litigants speaking with the media during legal proceedings, and if not, how would you do things differently in the future ? If yes, why did you choose to interview Ms Ash at length and continue to speak with her during the period of legal process ? Were you ever worried that your reporting or commentary in this way might result in an unbalanced story or compromise the legal process? What steps did you take to ensure the issues would be dealt with?

19.As a person who is a media expert, what do you make of reporters such as Canadian biographer Michael Posner who, in covering this case for the Globe and Mail chose to speak with Ms Ash frequently during the period of time leading up to and including the trial and ended up disclosing privileged information in his articles? Or that he went on to support her efforts to the degree that he is mentioned in para 160 of the trial judgment only to write yet a few more times about the case without ever revealing to his readership his involvement IN the trial or that he too was a biographer. (This is not to mention he erroneously misleads his readership that I never challenged the veracity of the book's contents, when in fact I challenged a great deal of it, and for which I was obliged to request a correction from the Globe and Mail, which they accepted. )

My question then is, should reporters and journalists be speaking with litigants during a legal process and if so when and under what circumstances and if not, why? Accepting there can be a particular challenge regarding the 'observation of justice' when matters are dealt with in private such as privacy cases, what suggestions do you have as to how the courts can responsibly carry out their duties and protect genuinely private information for which there is no public interest, while ensuring that the public 'sees' that justice is being done and the media as conduits can be part of that process? Are you aware that there was an option for this judge to keep the judgment of this case entirely closed, but chose to write it so explicitly so as to leave it open perhaps for this very reason ?

20. Given this judge's efforts in that regard and in the interviews I gave following the trial judgment of November 2005, whereby all reporters/journalists confessed they had never read the judgment before the interview, what responsibility does the media have to the legal system and hence to the public to ensure proper research is undertaken before widely publishing stories? As per one of my earlier questions, and with all due respect, have you read both judgments concerning this case?

21. In addition to the above, some of the writers of this case have been entertainment reporters. I can only assume because I am a singer they were assigned the story on that basis. Do you think it is in the public's interest for editor's to assign complex human rights stories to entertainment reporters?

22. In so far as there have been many factual inaccuracies in the coverage of this case ranging from assertions that
a)Ms Ash never signed a confidentiality agreement (she did , para 128-130 of the November 2005 judgment) or
b) that I never challenged the veracity of the book's contents (see above) to
c) basic and easily known information such as where I am from or that my deceased fiancÚ was my fiancÚ , not my husband as Canada's Globe and Mail's European bureau chief, Doug Saunders stated in his commentary last December. ( His thesis was that privacy was primarily the concern of the 'rich and famous') Can you speak to the obligations the media has to the public to ensure their facts are correct and how that is achieved? As a media expert who I imagine has a fairly broad acquaintance with industry standards, have the resources for fact checking improved or declined over the years? I see in another one of your other blogs that there is some concern about how many 'facts' are procured from such sources as Wikipedia. Is the public to believe that this is the best fact seeking and checking source the reporting/journalist community can rely upon their behalf?


I realise you have stated you will not be answering questions, and I can only encourage you, in the public's interest, to reconsider that position. Surely by having a blog you must expect that people will respond and I guess, try to hold you accountable. I have tried my level best to be thoughtful and respectful in my questions to you and I know I am not alone in my concern and quest to have them answered.

I must let you know that by having you or someone at the Guardian assemble other articles as a substantiation of your position or the old tried and true method of conveying something or framing it by pulling other people's quotes out of context is not acceptable to me or many others I expect.

Again, I would invite you to please reconsider and respond to my questions and do all of us on this blog the courtesy of YOUR reply. I have responded now to you.

Loreena

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mannensom

Comment No. 732145
October 11 18:32

Loreena, you say : "why did you [i.e. Roy Greenslade] choose to interview Ms Ash at length and continue to speak with her during the period of legal process ?"

The answer is he didn't. The House of Lords decision - and therefore the end of the legal process - came on Friday 30 March. Greenslade conducted his one and only interview with Niema on Wednesday 4 April. It was subsequently published on Monday 9 April. If you'd read my blog as closely as your office does, you'd know these things already.

And anyway, I thought Niema was the one who's supposed to be obsessed. Let it go, Loreena. Time to move on.

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Loreena

Comment No. 732234
October 11 19:48

Thanks for the clarification Gunner.

Forgive me if the impression had been left that there had been any communication between Ms Ash and Mr Greenslade before this time. Given that she had been in touch with other reporters/journalists during the time of all these legal matters, as I point out in my previous posting, (please see para 159-160 of the judgment) and given that Mr Greenslade was out right out of the gate on March 30 with his commentary when the House of Lords did not grant Ms Ash permission to appeal, it was slightly presumptuous on my part to infer that they had actually been communicating. During that time. So let us say this is so.


Question 23. Perhaps in the interests of clarity, given how much Mr Greenslade repeats Ms Ash' story and context in his April 9, 2007 article, could he explain why it was left to me in late May, some 6 weeks or more since his first volley on March 30 to seek HIM to see if he would be interested in what I had to say? The issue here is balanced and well researched journalism.


By the way Gunner, I accept as a writer you too have a vested interest in how this matter has played itself out. With due respect to you and your blog site, I think Mr Greenslade is fully capable of answering the questions before him.


There are many of us patiently waiting.

Loreena

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Taidgh

Comment No. 732254
October 11 20:11

It's not clear if it's arrogance or naivete, but it seems incredible that Ms McKennitt stilll feels that Roy Greenslade has some sort of obligation to satisfy her in this matter. Journalism doesn't work that way. Blogging doesn't work that way. There will always be lingering points of disagreement. He's expressed his views and given her the chance to respond. Guardian readers will make up their own minds. Perhaps Ms McKennitt should inaugurate her own newspaper, the Daily Loreena, or whatever, if she is so certain she has things to teach the press about its craft.

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dlaws99

Comment No. 732271
October 11 20:27

Roy...Thanks for coming on this forum for the debate. I owe you a small apology for being a little more blunt in attempting to bring you out. I, like most everyone else, am only marginally knowledgable about this case. It's frustrating that the only resource I have is the internet to scan for info instead of all the documentation the participants have available, making an intelligent comment difficult. I have read everything I could dig up in the last few weeks including some really vicious stuff on amazon.com primarily aimed at Loreena by someone who says he knows her. Your final (and as you say, crucial) comment in your response is particulary troubling to me. I agree people should be as free as possible to express themselves. I totally disagree with you when you say "fame has it's price". Who determines this? You? Are you saying this because the ability to invade someone's privacy is the bread and butter of some journalists? Are you just rationalizing to protect your turf? And by what metric do you measure this price, how many people you know or who know you? If I'm known by 10,000 people do I pay less a price than if I was known by 100,000 people? Are you saying that the most famous person in the world has less of a right to privacy by degree over the most anonymous person in the world? How high does this price go, to where someone looses all right to privacy merely because they're well known? How, Roy, do draw the line? Privacy in my mind is a right that everyone possesses, equally, even you. How much of the price are you willing to pay for your level of fame? Does this extend to family and friends? Do they pay the price because they're connected to you? Is the only justification for imposing this price is that there might be someone out there who simply "wants to know"? All Loreena does is uses her knowledge, talent, skill and abilities to produce a product that she sells to the public in an effort to make a living. We can take it or leave it. It's the same thing you do Roy...it's the same thing I do. We buy her product (records, concerts) not because we're forced to but because it's a superior product. I fail to see how this translates into a "price to be paid".
D.J.Laws, Monterey, CA

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dlaws99

Comment No. 732697
October 12 8:07

Roy...I've been thinking about this for the last few hours and upon reflection, I have to concede some of your point. I guess I was more trying to explain to myself, thinking mathmatically, why just because someone achieves a measure of success in their chosen career, they must forfit a right they share with everyone else. I neglected, however, to factor into the equation the vicarious nature of the general public, and the media's desire to feed that appetite because that's where the big bucks are. In an ideal world it shouldn't be that way, but I guess in the one we've got that's the way it is, and the only determinant is how well known you are. I work in a scientific profession with people who are every bit as talented at what they do as Loreena is at what she does. They've spent years dedicated to their profession and what they do has real results in the world. But they can walk down the street and nobody knows them because they do their work at a desk in front of a computer, or up in an airplane or out on a ship. Standing side by side why should the more well known person have to give up something the other doesn't, all other things being equal? It's because there's a huge throng of anonymous people out there who want it that way, and a media with dollar signs in their eyes willing to step on anybody to dish it out to them. This is the price you were referring to, isn't it. It's a pretty high price tag in my view. So, when Loreena writes above: "And in this regard, it is my opinion, that we do need to concern ourselves more with the mechanics and ownership of our media , how they influence our societies, our opinions, our laws and indeed our democracies. And this should be the real debate falling out from this privacy case.", she's pretty much dead on, isn't she...

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IrNfromParis

Comment No. 732879
October 12 9:58

THANK YOU DLAWS! I exactly think as you!


"Fame's price".
There's really something wrong here...


Do you think Mr Greenslade that, because masse of people do something, they have right to do it?

In my opinion, it's not because there's a public avid of the private life of famous people and "journalists" able to feed them, that it give them all, legitimacy.
And it's not because a singer is a "public people" that he/she belongs to the public.
It's not a link.


You seem to say it's an automatic "step" like: "now you're famous, so we're all allowed to know which is your favorite position to sleep, why you don't like gherkins with chocolate and what you did your grand-grand mother do during the night from november 3rd to february 31 1832".

I'm sorry if, exactly like DJLaws, I can't imagine how and when could be this "automatic step".


But, ok.
Let's say 5 minutes that this is legitimate.
In your way to think and to see the world Mr Greenslade, does your reflection go until :
if someone talented made a disk more and more appreciated, does he have to give up his promising career if he really wants to keep his private life?


to Gunner > perhaps Mrs McKennitt doesn't "give up" because, some "journalists" dared to do things they were not allowed to and now, if she fortunately won this process about private life, all is moving to media's ethic and influence in our world. Besides, the last goods questions of Mrs McKennitt are about journalist work around process in general and, as reminds us DJLaws, about "the real debate falling out from this privacy case".

So I am, as Ms McKennitt and some others, very interested by real response about media influence on our world.

Are the media to our service or are we toys in the hands of those who own them ?

...


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Loreena

Comment No. 734398
October 12 20:43

Thank you for your astute observations DJLaws. I feel this gets to an important nub of understanding Mr Greenslade's logic or lack of it.

As I realise that this blog has now been removed from the 'most viewed list' on the right hand side of the site, I am not sure if this is the equivalent of 'last call'' or another technical failure. But if it is the Guardian sending the signal that they wish to turn out the lights out on this discussion, let me leave the readership with a few more thoughts ( unless of course Mr Greenslade is reconsidering and composing his answers)

Perhaps for posterity , I thought I could answer a few of the questions which have been posed to me over the course of this past few years regarding this case and in fact might have been questions Mr Greenslade himself would have asked were he serious about interviewing me or discussing the subject.

1.WHY DID YOU BRING LEGAL PROCEEDING AGAINST YOUR FORMER FRIEND?

In actual fact, Ms Ash, as a sometimes employee, signed a confidentiality agreement and once she published her book in June of 2005, we reminded her of that agreement. After repeated approaches and complete refusal on her part, there was no other step to take but seek an injunction by late September of 2005.This then set wheels in motion for the matter to be heard before the courts.

Many attempts were made in the weeks leading up to the trial date to resolve things with her, but as Ms Ash is quoted in Michael Posner's Globe and Mail article of Oct 15, 2005 "If in the end I can't write the story I wanted to write, then so be it, but I want a court to make that decision, not McKennitt."

As we now know, there were in fact, 3 courts, several hearings and a total of 10 judges which undertook this process with great diligence and came out unequivocally in my favour.
(It must also be noted that later Ms Ash publicly acknowledged that in anticipation of my response to her breached contract, she arranged for insurance to cover her legal costs. But that is a strand of discussion to be reserved for another time.)

There are a number of things to understand about confidentiality agreements or professional contractual agreements as a whole. Few businesses can conduct their affairs without them. They are set out to outline the 'rules of engagement' and by signing them, both parties are aware and in agreement to those terms and are prepared to abide by them. Ms Ash signed hers and I felt bound to protect the contracts upon which my business must rely, just as we do with other professional contracts for record distribution, concert promotion etc.

Another aspect about confidentiality agreements which people often can over look, is that they are not necessarily always designed to protect a high profile "principal ' such as myself, but indeed, others in the work place. So for example, if someone had an embarrassing moment in the place of work for which I am responsible, it is the obligation of others in that place of work to not be spreading that information around. In other words, many confidentiality agreements work to protect ALL parties, not just one.


BUT MS ASH WAS ALSO A FRIEND. WHY DID YOU FEEL OBLIGED TO GET A CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT FROM HER?

Well, in 1996 -97 Ms Ash published another book called "Travels with My Daughter" which contained some immensely salacious and compromising information on other well known people she had befriended over the years. In fact, people she always regarded as some of her 'best' friends. I was simply horrified and thought if she was prepared to do that with those friends, what made me think she wouldn't ever try to do a similar thing with me. When it came around that she was hired as merchandise seller on our 1998 tour, I made a special point to ensure that a confidentiality agreement was secured from her. Justice Eady speaks to the significance of 'Travels with my Daughter' para 82-89 and of her contractual obligations in para 128-130 of his November 2005 judgment.

I have since learned that most of her friends mentioned in that book as well as a number in 'Travels with Loreena McKennitt' have fallen away from her as a result of feeling their privacies had also been breached. One person from 'Travels with my Daughter ' relayed to me, had they had the resources to do what I had done, they would have done it. It might be worth noting, that her friend Gunnar Pettersson who has appeared on this blog and who has been an avid supporter of Ms Ash has yet to make an appearance in any of her writings. This may explain why he is so unfamiliar with how it feels to have one's privacy so unnecessarily invaded.


IT HAS BEEN MENTIONED MANY TIMES IN A VARIETY OF ARTICLES THAT WERE YOU TO HAVE LEFT THE BOOK ALONE, THAT IT WOULD HAVE FIZZLED OUT WITHOUT NOTICE. AND THAT THE SALES WOULD NOT HAVE AMOUNTED TO MUCH IN THE END. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT?

Well, I guess to the outsider this might seem the logic , but when one actually has the opportunity to study how long Ms Ash has been working on the book, planning marketing and promotional initiatives as well as preparing for arrangements in the event I did hold her accountable to her confidentiality agreement, other considerations come into play.

Further more, amongst my fan base it was known and hence to Ms Ash as well, that I was leading up to making and releasing another recording sometime around 2006-2007 and it is my opinion, that this is why her book was released in June of 2005, just in anticipation of when we were originally supposed to have released my new recording. As it turned out, we were delayed a year in releasing An Ancient Muse which took place in Nov 2006.

As someone who had worked for me as a merchandiser, she would have an intimate appreciation for the appetite my fan base would have for almost anything associated with me. We estimated that the sales of such an item could end up in the thousands of copies if not ten's of thousands, coasting on the marketing and promotional efforts and expenses we would be incurring for the recording. And although Ms Ash is eager to have promoted the book as "her story' you will see it is not HER name which informs the title. Justice Eady speaks to this at various points in his judgment, but addresses it specifically in para 77.

As I mentioned in the first question, as a business we have contracts of all kinds and if we are not prepared to protect them and what they stand for, we would have to abandon them altogether. That is not a realistic proposition for any company.

Perhaps what I have shared will whet Mr Greenslade's curiosity in a way whereby he can appreciate there might be more to this story than he has represented in his coverage of it. Having visited Ms Ash's home perhaps he bought into her whole story and neglected the judgment's findings that many parts it were untrue. By using this case as an example, Greenslade and others in the media owe the public a duty of care to ensure their work is fully researched, accurate and balanced. And although I am keen to set the record straight on matters lying within the public's perception of this case, my greater concern lies in the strangle-hold some of our media has on our society and the broader repercussions of that.

This is why Mr Greenslade's reluctance to join this discussion is so disappointing and discouraging, especially since is regarded as a media expert and educator. If I were any of his students, I would be quite interested in this discussion.

In conclusion for today's installment, it must be stated that others have been fair in their coverage of this case by concerning themselves with the true issues it invokes .

I would also like to acknowledge that the Guardian did NOT participate in the UK media consortium that intervened in this case at the Court of Appeal , for which I am very grateful. While I appreciate Mr Greenslade often likes to take on what appears to be the side of the underdog, his commentaries and in particular his interviews with the Canadian national broadcasting station CBC radio, has made it feel like a personal campaign against me. Given all of this, perhaps a re-evaluation of who is David and who is Goliath is order. This has been the point of my lengthy submission to this blog and the questions I have raised.

In the meantime, Mr Greenslade we will continue to wait, until you either sincerely respond to the questions put to you in this blog or your editor turns off the lights. A sincere discussion, with a true and equal debate which is transparent to all, is trying to take place here and with a person who has been so central to this landmark case. With the greatest of respect sir, please join the discussion.Not the particulars of the case, but rather, the principles it involves. We will patiently wait.

Loreena

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LaredoR

Comment No. 734431
October 12 21:23

While consulting the oracle of Wikipedia for "the Truth" (as suggested by Mr. Pettersson/mennensom way back when - that being days ago in this blog!) I stumbled upon a videotaped address by Mr. Greenslade in Nov. 2006 where he suggests that we the people, through immediate digital media and blogs such as this, can help hold big media to account.

Accepting the invitation by Mr. Greenslade in this blog to consult his earlier comments on the subject, I found the same refrain echoed in a recent article in the Guardian of March 1 2007:
"Newspapers lack trust, said Greenslade, for two main reasons. With the exception of a few media organisations such as the BBC and the Guardian, ownership of newspapers means editorship and therefore newspapers are compromised by the proprietor's own political views. There has also been a dumbing down in a bid to appeal to the lowest common denominator and boost sales. But then again tabloid readers don't seem to care if a news story is accurate, they expect not to believe what they read in the papers, but do so any way for 'entertainment value'. Perhaps blogging could be a way of subjecting press accounts to some form of check, he suggested."

And then in a little note tucked away in his Evening Standard column of January 24 2007 (about an interview given by the Chairman of Channel 4) he wrote this: "To say "no comment" to a string of questions, all of them politely put by the BBC's business reporter Greg Wood, gives listeners the impression that the interviewee either has something to hide or is unable to offer a coherent response."

Is this not all we (Ms. McKennitt and many others here) are saying?

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Taidgh

Comment No. 734447
October 12 21:39

I'm amused by how Ms McKennitt continually changes her arguments. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again", eh? First it was a privacy case, then it was a libel case, now in her latest posting, it's a breach of nondisclosure agreement case.

Apparently, Ms McKennitt doesn't think that anyone looks at her own web site, where she has kindly seen fit to post the High Court ruling in McKennitt v. Ash. Few will wish to plough through the usual turgid legal prose of the decision, but even a cursory reading is enough to show that the case was not about a nondisclosure agreement. It is also revealing to see just how high a proportion of Ms McKennitt's complaints were dismissed by Justice Eady, who repeatedly used language such as "too anodyne and general to require protection", "another example where the true complaint was that she had been shown in an unfavorable light, rather than that genuine intimacies are being revealed." In all, the judgment upheld eight out of 34 of Ms McKennitt's claims that particular passages had breached her privacy; a rather limited victory.

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dlaws99

Comment No. 734499
October 12 22:42

Just following your lead Loreena. I happen to believe you're right on all points and the judgment was the correct one. Like I said above, people are not public property no matter how well known they are. There was another thing that troubled me in a more general sense, and that's Ms. Ash's own words which reflect on the motivation for the book in the first place. When I read or hear such a one sided account as this one the red light on top of my tin foil hat goes on and starts spinning around. By the way, if you think back into the murky past of two Sundays ago, we met in Vancouver.
//Dennis//

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