Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Its the one-year anniversary of the London riots next week, and the BBC was planning to broadcast a pair of docu-dramas based on interviews with rioters and police. "Was", because the broadcast has been banned by a court under highly unusual circumstances:

The ruling from a judge prevented the docu-drama, which had been due to be broadcast on BBC2 at 9pm on Monday, from being broadcast "by any media until further order".


For legal reasons, the Guardian cannot name the judge who made the ruling, the court in which he is sitting or the case he is presiding over. However, it is understood that lawyers for the BBC strongly object to his ruling, the nature of which is believed to be highly unusual.

In a free and democratic society there should be a strong presumption against such prior restraint. There may be reasons which justify prohibiting broadcast - e.g. the classic one would be to protect the right to a fair trial - but no reason at all to justify the associated secrecy. Instead, it seems to be secrecy for secrecy's sake, and it suggests strongly that the underlying decision would not withstand public scrutiny.