Obsolete ordered to remove photo of Mahzer Mahmood by court injunction, courtesy of Farrer & Co.
The letter from Mahzer Mahmood's lawyers. Click for larger version.
Well, it had to happen sometime. Obsolete has received its first threat of legal action. Obsolete has been ordered to remove the photograph which I published along with the post about George Galloway's encounter with the fake sheikh. For the moment I have complied with their request, while seeking advice from the internet host company, as this blog is hosted in the United States, not the United Kingdom. Above you can see the letter which was emailed to me by Mazher Mahmood's lawyers, Farrer & Co. Below is a transcript of the court order.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE MITTING
TUESDAY 4TH APRIL 2006
B E T W E E N :
(1) GEORGE GALLOWAY MP
(2) RON McKAY
MINUTE OF ORDER
IF YOU THE RECIPIENT OF THIS ORDER AND ANY OTHER PERSON WITH NOTICE OF THIS ORDER DISOBEY THIS ORDER YOU MAY BE HELD TO BE IN CONTEMPT OF COURT AND LIABLE TO IMPRISONMENT OR TO BE FINED OR TO HAVE YOUR ASSETS SEIZED
UPON hearing Counsel for the Applicant without notice to the Respondents
AND UPON the Applicant by his Counsel giving the undertakings set out in Schedule 1 at the end of this Order
IT IS ORDERED that:
An injunction is hereby granted restraining until after 4pm on 5 April 2006 or further order in the meantime the Respondents and any person with notice of this order (whether by themselves or by their servants or agents or otherwise however or in the case of a company whether by its directors or officers or servants or agents or otherwise howsoever) from publishing or disclosing to any other person or allowing or causing to be published in any newspaper or to be broadcast in any sound or television broadcast or by means of any cable or satellite programme service or public computer network any photograph of the Applicant
PROVIDED THAT nothing in this Order shall of itself prevent any person publishing any photograph or image lawfully in the public domain
2. Paragraph 1 above shall apply subject to the following PROVISO in relation to any internet service provider (“ISP”), its employees and agents:
(a) an ISP shall not be in breach of this injunction unless it, or any of its employees or agents:
(i) knew that the material had been placed on its servers or could be accessed via its service; or
(ii) knew that the material was to be placed on its servers, or was likely to be placed on its servers or was likely to be accessed by its service; and in either case
(iii) failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent the publication;
(b) an employee or agent of an ISP shall not be in breach of the injunction unless he or it:
(i) knew that the material had been placed on its servers or could be accessed via its service; or
(ii) knew that the material was to be placed on its servers, or was likely to be placed on its servers or was likely to be accessed via its service; and in either case
(iii) failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent the publication and to induce the ISP to prevent the publication;
(c) as ISP, employee or agent shall be considered to know anything which he or it would have known if he or it had taken reasonable steps to find out;
(d) “taking all reasonable steps to prevent the publication” includes the taking of all reasonable steps to remove the material from the ISP’s servers or to block access to the material.
3. The proviso to paragraph 1 of this order shall not apply so as to permit the publication of material falling within paragraph 1 of this order merely on the ground that such material has at any time been published on the internet and/or outside England and Wales.
4. Copies of this order endorsed with a penal notice be served by the Applicant’s solicitors on:
(a) such newspapers and sound or television broadcasting or cable or satellite programme services and public computer networks as they may think fit, in the case of a public computer network, by e-mail and in each other case by facsimile transmission or pre-paid first class post addressed to the Editor in the case of a newspaper or the Senior News Editor in the case of a broadcasting or cable or satellite programme service, or person responsible for any public computer network in the case of that network; and
(b) on such other persons as the Applicant’s solicitors may think fit in each case in the first instance by the means mentioned in paragraph 4(a) above and as soon as practicable thereafter by personal service.
5. Any person affected by the injunction set out at paragraph 1 above is at liberty to apply upon notice in writing to the Applicant’s solicitors.
6. Time for service of application shortened to 2 hours.
7. The costs of and occasioned by this application are reserved.
Dated the 4th day of April 2006.
UNDERTAKINGS GIVEN TO THE COURT BY THE APPLICANT
(1) If the court later finds that this order has caused loss to the Respondents, and decides that the Respondents should be compensated for that loss, the Applicant will comply with any order the court may make
(2) As soon as practicable the Applicant will issue and serve a claim form claiming appropriate relief
(3) The Applicant will cause a witness statement to be made confirming the substance of what was said to the court by the Applicant’s Counsel
(4) The Applicant will serve upon the Respondents as soon as practicable (i) this Order (ii) copies of the above witness statement and any other documents provided to the court on the making of this order (iii) the claim form and (iv) an application notice for the continuation of this Order returnable at 2pm on 5 April 2006
(5) Anyone notified of this Order will be given a copy of it by the Applicant’s legal representatives
(6) If this Order ceases to have effect the Applicant will immediately take all reasonable steps to inform in writing anyone to whom he has given notice of this Order, or who he has reasonable grounds for supposing may act upon this Order, that it has ceased to have effect
NAME AND ADDRESS OF APPLICANT’S LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES
The Applicant’s legal representatives are:
Farrer & Co, 66, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LH
Tel No 020-7242-2022
Fax No 020-7242-9899
Out of office hours contact numbers: 07803601353 (JNC)
I'm no legal expert, but this order seems only to concern Mahmood. It appears that Mahmood has taken out an injunction against Galloway to stop him from publishing Mahmood's photo, and against any internet sites that currently have been hosting photographs of Mahmood. I found Mahmood's photo on an Albanian news site, of all places, after being directed there by a post on the Guardian's Comment is Free blog. No doubt they have received a similar order. 3 other addresses have also been cc'ed the email I received from Farrer & Co. The injuction lasts until 4pm tomorrow afternoon, it should be interesting to see whether it gets extended.
How very strange and hypocritical of a man who has been "exposing" others that he turns to the law when others put photographs of him into the public domain. Do you have something to hide, Mr Mahmood? We should be told.
Links to the actual documents I received:
Court Order (The actual document was in .doc format, a friend converted it to pdf. (Thanks.))
Letter from Farrer & Co.
Here's the story from the Respect coalition website:
Rupert Murdoch’s News International tonight obtained a 24-hour injunction against George Galloway MP, Ron McKay and those acting on their behalf against the publication of photographs of News of the World employee Mazher Mahmood, the “fake sheikh”.
The picture had already been circulated to Members of Parliament and the House of Lords, to the Queen’s private secretary and to others in public life who may be in targeted by Mahmood’s unscrupulous, agent provocateur methods. Ironically, the solicitors acting for News International, Farrer & Co, also act for the Queen.
The restraining order expires at 4pm tomorrow and George Galloway plans vigorously to contest the ban. “This is exactly what we expected. And now we see just how hypocritical and slight News International’s professed commitment to press freedom is,” said George Galloway.
“Since I broke the news of my encounter with the fake sheikh other interested parties have come forward providing voluminous further evidence of thoroughly unscrupulous methods.
“The judges in the trial arising from the Victoria Beckham kidnap that never was, and in the trial of London’s Burning star John Alford, have already raised serious concerns about his activities. And others are in prison awaiting trial. Any good he might once claim to have achieved has now been massively outweighed by the damage he is doing.
"The evidence already coming my way reinforces my determination to see that Mahmood is brought to book. If News International were truly concerned with the integrity of the press it would be retiring Mahmood this evening instead of trying to prevent others from being forewarned of his activities.
“This is the beginning of a battle that may turn out to be long-running, but it is one I intend to win.”
And here's another article from Media Guardian:
The News of the World obtained a high court injunction yesterday to stop George Galloway publishing pictures of its most celebrated journalist, Mazher Mahmood, the investigative reporter more commonly known as the "fake sheikh".
The MP for Bethnal Green and Bow claimed Mahmood tried to make him the target of a sting late last month by attempting to get him to make anti-semitic remarks and implicate him in illegal party financing at a London hotel.
He has branded Mahmood - whose previous victims include the Countess of Wessex and the England manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson - "an agent provocateur and a disgrace to journalism".
Mr Galloway had made good on his threat to out Mahmood earlier yesterday, when he sent two pictures of the reporter to all MPs and the royal family, as well as posting the pictures on the Respect party website.
The images were later removed from the site.
"The secret's out, I hope your editors will publish his picture," Mr Galloway told reporters gathered at a news conference yesterday.
The News of the World, which has gone to great efforts to make sure that the identity of its star reporter remains a mystery, had asked newspapers not to publish images of Mahmood, who works undercover and is said by the paper to be responsible for the conviction of more than 130 criminals. It had also claimed that Mahmood and his family are the subject of death threats regarded as "serious and credible" by police.
Yesterday afternoon, the paper's parent company, News International, successfully applied to Mr Justice Mitting for a 24-hour high court injunction prohibiting publication of the pictures.
Mr Galloway said last night that he intended to challenge the order as soon as it expires at 4pm today.
"This is exactly what we expected. And now we see just how hypocritical and slight News International's professed commitment to press freedom is," Mr Galloway said.
"Since I broke the news of my encounter with the fake sheikh other interested parties have come forward providing voluminous further evidence of thoroughly unscrupulous methods ... The evidence already coming my way reinforces my determination to see that Mahmood is brought to book.
"If News International were truly concerned with the integrity of the press it would be retiring Mahmood this evening instead of trying to prevent others from being forewarned of his activities."
The News of the World defended Mahmood's meeting with Mr Galloway, arguing that it was part of "wholly legitimate inquiries" into the activities of a number of individuals in relation to the loans-for-honours and party funding scandal.
Earlier this year, Mr Galloway was the victim of a sting by the News of the World's sister paper, the Sun, when an undercover reporter sent him flowers on Valentine's Day and visited his office.
Mahmood and his family must obviously not feel safe enough, protected only by a cousin with a mouth of gold teeth. To ensure his safety he has to resort to injunctions. Bless.