Point of Order: reporting of the Commons
14 October 2009
Paul Farrelly, Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, raised a point of order in the Commons about a legal injunction barring the Guardian newspaper from writing about a parliamentary question which he had tabled.
"On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I want to raise a chain of events that may be of some concern to the House. Today The Guardian reported that it had been prevented from reporting a written question tabled by a Member of Parliament. This morning I telephoned The Guardian to ask whether that MP was myself. The question was printed on the Order Paper yesterday and relates to the activities of Trafigura, an international oil trader at the centre of a controversy concerning toxic waste dumping on the Ivory Coast. The question also relates to the role of its solicitors, Carter-Ruck. I understand that yesterday Carter-Ruck, quite astonishingly, warned The Guardian of legal action if the newspaper reported my question. In view of the seriousness of this, Mr. Speaker, will you accept representations from me over this matter and consider whether Carter-Ruck’s behaviour constitutes potential contempt of Parliament?"
The Speaker, John Bercow, told MPs that the matter was
"not sub judice under the House’s rules. It has already been published on the notices of questions, and it is also available on the Order Paper and, indeed, on the Parliamentary website. There is no question of our own proceedings being in any way inhibited."
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