· About 4 minutes read

“Corrupt” BAE named in Scottish Parliament motion welcoming Iceland’s response to banking scandal

I received this morning a press release from Dr. Bill Wilson, Member of the Scottish Parliament. For lack of any better place to repost it, I decided to share it here, as it is great news:

Dr Bill Wilson MSP has congratulated the Icelandic Parliament for voting to bring in the “strongest media freedom laws in the world”.  In a Scottish Parliamentary motion to that effect, he also suggested that such legislation might encourage whistle-blowing and therefore help prevent corruption “as has been practised by BAE Systems”, and he called on the UK Government to consider bringing in similar legislation here, to implement the Bribery Act 2010 without “watering it down” and to modify libel law.

Dr Wilson said, “People often criticise corruption overseas, but UK-based companies can be considered at least partly responsible for this, as anyone who looks into BAE’s shady dealings is likely to conclude.  A climate that fosters whistle-blowing and a free and fearless media must surely make the world a better and safer place.

“Dodgy investments by Icelandic banks contributed to the global economic crisis.  Partly in response to this, the Icelandic Parliament has unanimously voted for the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, described as ‘a new legislative regime to protect and strengthen modern freedom of expression and the free flow of information in Iceland and around the world’.  This is greatly to be welcomed, and I hope the UK Government will monitor what happens and consider bringing in similar legislation here, or at least allow the Scottish Parliament to do so.

“On a similar note, freedom of expression is greatly hampered by the libel and defamation laws in the UK – particularly England.  Many authorities believe that English libel law is heavily weighted in favour of those who have something to cover up, and this has resulted in ‘libel tourism’.  This must change.

“The UK Government should also implement the Bribery Act as soon as possible. I am not happy with it being delayed ‘for consultation’.  If the UK is to have any credibility as a moral force in the world it must implement this law full-strength!”

Dr_Bill_Wilson_MSPThis clearly shows that the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative is succeeding in drawing attention to the numerous ways in which information freedom can be improved globally, and how legislation must catch up with the technological advances of the last two hundred years.

I hope that we can soon start talking about the International Modern Media Initiative, although there are a few things we need to finish on the logistics and management side before we do that. Either way, welcome to the party, Scotland!

The text of the motion is:

Short Title: Libel Law, Corruption and the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative

S3M-06786 Bill Wilson (West of Scotland) (SNP): That the Parliament congratulates the Icelandic Parliament on unanimously voting for what is described as the strongest media freedom laws in the world; considers that a climate that facilitates whistleblowing is key to the elimination of corruption, as has been practised by UK-based multinational BAE Systems, for example; is of the opinion that UK libel and defamation laws are not in the best interests of a free and fair society, and calls on the UK Government to implement the Bribery Act 2010 without watering it down, modify the English libel laws and monitor developments in Iceland with a view to implementing similar media freedom legislation.

For more information on BAE, the British arms manufacturer that is mentioned in this context, see the Guardian’s reporting on the issue.