Vanity Fair Can Get You Arrested

An interesting article in today’s Independent (read it quickly before the paywall drops into place) about the gradual erosion of civil liberties by Blair’s government.

In another example of the Government’s draconian stance on political protest, Steven Jago, 36, a management accountant, yesterday became the latest person to be charged under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

On 18 June, Mr Jago carried a placard in Whitehall bearing the George Orwell quote: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” In his possession, he had several copies of an article in the American magazine Vanity Fair headlined “Blair’s Big Brother Legacy”, which were confiscated by the police. “The implication that I read from this statement at the time was that I was being accused of handing out subversive material,” said Mr Jago. Yesterday, the author, Henry Porter, the magazine’s London editor, wrote to Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, expressing concern that the freedom of the press would be severely curtailed if such articles were used in evidence under the Act.

Mr Porter said: “The police told Mr Jago this was ‘politically motivated’ material, and suggested it was evidence of his desire to break the law. I therefore seek your assurance that possession of Vanity Fair within a designated area is not regarded as ‘politically motivated’ and evidence of conscious law-breaking.”

Scotland Yard has declined to comment.

The main part of the article (which I haven’t quoted from for fear of Special Branch banging down my door) is the Vanity Fair article in question. Once the Indy’s paywall has dropped, you may still be able to read it on the Vanity Fair web site.

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