James Madison, the American founder father of America, warned that freedom was more at risk from the ‘gradual and quiet encroachments of those in power’ rather than violent and unexpected events.
This is evident in the Court of Appeal verdict last week.
The dignified chamber was elegant and civilized in a way that is unmatched by the three well-informed, experienced and highly qualified judges who ruled for The Duchess Of Sussex and against The Mail.
Meghan Markle is better known as the Duchess of Cambridge. She declared that this decision was a win for anyone who has ever felt’scared to speak up for the right’. It is not clear, however, that this is true.
Even with its many faults, the free press has been an ardent defender of the small and the marginal against the major.
We live a different way because of the mere existence of such an organ, known as the fourth estate of the realm.
Independent journalism exposes the wealthy and powerful at all times. What if there is a more difficult and dangerous law on privacy that makes this exposure impossible?
The implications for press freedom – and for the conduct of the law in general – are severe.
MOS COMENT: Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Cambridge, declared the victory to all who had ever been able to stand for what was right. It is not clear, however, that this is true. (Pictured with Prince Harry: Ms Markle and Prince Harry
Most disturbing was perhaps the heart of the decision, which stated that the Duchess didn’t have to argue her case in court.
If judges can decide – as they did – that they do not even need to hear evidence tested, and witnesses cross-examined, they have given themselves a new and frightening power in a strongly contested privacy case.
The idea behind a trial is based upon the possibility that both sides can present their case to impartial justice.
This idea has been suspended. Is it possible that the judges are so smart they do not need to listen?
The Mail on Sunday wanted to highlight important points. They were based on key information that would have been clarified by the Duchess’s reply.
As the latest case in a long line of court disputes about privacy, this whole matter was decided.
Each step, it seems that the courts are creating a new privacy legislation in this country.
This was not possible before. However, such laws are very protective of the wealthy and powerful in certain continental countries.
The process has been influenced by the European Convention on Human Rights, which Blair government incorporated into English law to effectuate profound social changes.
However, the Charter doesn’t require courts to put privacy over freedom of expression or public interest.
MOS COMMENT (Pictured is the Royal Courts of Justice, London).
The Article 8 of the Constitution states that everyone has the right respect to his family and private life.
This is offset by Article 10, which states: “Everyone has right to freedom and expression.”
It includes the freedom to express opinions, to get and share information with others without being hampered by authorities.
The Tory government has repeatedly promised that it would give the country its Freedom Charter. This is better suited to our traditional values.
However, they have yet to do anything. It is very disappointing.
However, if the ECHR is to be used as a basis for our governance, judges should remind us that this protects freedom for all and there are times when privacy needs to be respected by the rich and powerful.