The High Court is set to stage the UK's first freedom of speech battle involving the Internet.
Nottinghamshire County Council has issued a writ against three journalists, after they carried links on their web site to a complete transcript of a confidential report into satanic and incestuous child abuse in Broxtowe. The journalists have been forced to remove the links and are being taken to court for "breach of copyright".
It is the first case of its kind in the UK. In the US, the government's Communications Decency Act, which sought to suppress freedom of speech on the Internet, was thrown out of courts in Philadelphia and New York earlier this year.
Nottinghamshire CC commissioned the report, called JET, eight years ago to investigate alleged child abuse and satanic rituals. Ten people were subsequently arrested and sent to prison, and many of the abused children are still in care. The report contains statements made by the children, who are now young adults.
Asked if he was afraid the children would be disturbed by the publication of the report, a council spokesman said: "Yes, but there is also the legal issue. They (the journalists) have breached a copyright on confidential material."
The journalists, Nick Anning, David Hebditch and Margaret Jervis, said they published the report to independently assess the original context of the investigation. A letter on their site reads: "Readers will now be in a position to check independently the original context of the leaks, references and occasional misrepresentation of what was (and remains) a very important document."
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