I went on holiday a couple of weeks ago, half-expecting this little blog to not be up here when I got back. Not only had I left it in the hands of Little Dotmund (though he did a very sterling job of keeping it running – largely through following the instructions that I sent him to the letter), but also because I had posted this little post on Alisher Usmanov, Schillings solicitors and Craig Murray. Given the way that the threatening letters had been flying around in the few days before I went away, I was half expecting there to be a big blank space where my incessant warblings about football on the television, radio shows from nine years ago and non-league football used to be, but no. In the last week or so, it has all been going off, and what might have been a minor news story that was of interest to the few of us that take an interest in such things has become this season’s freedom of speech cause du jour.
It takes quite a lot to unite the left and right in British politics, but if there is one place that this may happen, then it’s over freedom of speech. Blogs as diverse as England Expects and Bloggerheads have united in an unprecedented show of defiance in response to legal threats made by Schillings on behalf Usmanov towards such sites as Pitch Invasion. Should you wish to keep up to date with the latest goings on, I would suggest visiting the temporary home of Bloggerheads for further information. The story made More Four News (and, as you can see from the link, they made a bit of a dog’s breakfast of the interview), whilst Channel Four have also discussed in simpering tones which, if I may say, bring nothing short of disgrace on their organisation. The biggest gun to come out yet, however, is The Register, which has reported on the matter in a tone that seems more fitting for a story which has moved on from defamation of character and into the realms of whether it morally right for a law firm to use a legal back door to intimidate bloggers and ISPs into taking down anything they don’t much like the look of, without having the inconvenience (and potential embarrassment) of a court case to have to deal with.
Bearing all of the above in mind, I would ask you to do the following:
1. If you hold an account with Fasthosts and consider your right to say what you wish on your web space to be important, consider whether you wish to continue to hold your account with them.
2. Sign this petition, if you haven’t done it already. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of what may have happened in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, the circling of these vultures over our game can only end in tears – and you can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t be them doing the crying.
Post Script: There’s a nice piece in today’s Guardian on the current upheaval at Arsenal which, I rather think, tells you about as much as you need to know about David Dein and his motives.