Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Anti-Censorship Series, Vol. 3: What Price Justice?

This is the third installment in a series of articles from The Pensive Quill that The Irish News is trying to censor. An article from the series will appear here each day until they are republished in full.

What Price Justice for a Single Parent Who Can’t Justify Going to London to Attend NUJ Appeal Hearing in Support of Her Arguably Malicious Complaint?

Celtic v Cliftonville in Glasgow, Apparently

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
― George Washington

Ted Folkman is a Boston lawyer who blogs at Letters Blogatory. In many ways, his views constitute an adversarial stance with which I have locked horns over the Boston College subpoena case. I think he has called the ethics of the issue wrong although his predictions have more often than not been on the money. Even on an unrelated political issue like Israel we have found ourselves in sharp disagreement. In any event none of our differences have inhibited a nurturing of the respect I have for him, finding him a judicious font of legal opinion. And I am always mindful of the courtesy and decency he afforded my wife while she was in Boston lobbying on behalf of the campaign to stop PSNI incursion. 

When I was the target of a wrongful accusation levelled by two Belfast journalists, Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes, he gave space in Letters Blogatory to the flawed verdictdelivered against me by the Ethics Council of the National Union of Journalists. In doing so he was enhancing public understanding. Good for him.

When the verdict was overturned by the NUJ Appeals Tribunal, Ted Folkman, quicker than anybody else, sprang out of the traps to publish that on his blog also, giving it roughly the same amount of coverage as he had the original mistrial. Whatever I might think of Ted Folkman’s views on some things, I most definitely cannot question his fidelity to fairness and balance. 

In his piece flagging up my success, he raised questions about the fact that the two Complainants had not turned up at the London appeal hearing. Ciaran Barnes repliedthat he did not attend because he had chickenpox. This corresponds with what I was told after the hearing by one of those in attendance: that one of the two complainants could not make it due to chickenpox. 

Allison Morris also replied to Ted's question, during the course of which she alleged that I was economical with the truth. Hey ho. Criticism is legal and ethical, and even if that is a philosophy she seems to resile from, she has every right to have a go at me. While she, like many others, will find it difficult to believe what flows from her pen, I will hardly complain to the Ethics Council about it or lift the phone to a libel lawyer in a bid to silence her. I will, however, write what I like and call things as I see them. 

Unlike the reason offered by Ciaran Barnes for his non attendance at the Appeals Tribunal, I find the reason put forward by Allison Morrison spurious and simply unworthy of belief. 

In her comment to Letters Blogatory Morris stated:

Ted, I didn’t attend because of work commitments, I’m a working journalist. July is one of my busiest months. Also financially we had to fund the trip ourselves including flights and hotels, as a single parent I couldn’t justify the expense.

So, there we have it: Allison Morris could not attend the Appeals Tribunal hearing in support of her own complaint because she was working - she is a single parent and could not justify the expense of flights and hotels, and would have had to fund the trip herself.

While I could claim to be an impoverished orphan because both my parents are dead and no longer a source of pocket money, I have no intention of demeaning myself through such an oleaginous attempt to court public sympathy. 

Her Twitter account confirms she was indeed otherwise occupied.

"En route to Glasgow," Allison tweets, the day before the NUJ Appeals Tribunal hearing

View tweeted by Allison from her seat at Celtic Park the night before the NUJ hearing in London

The account on Letters Blogatory of why she was not in London is in flagrant contradiction of Ms Morris’s own contemporaneous tweets, including one made at the very moment I was inside Headland House at the NUJ hearing of my appeal against her complaint.

The meeting started at 10:00am and continued until the early afternoon. At 11:49am Morris tweeted, in response to queries about her activities, ‘I have had my fill of riots for one year and not working on a well earned break.’

"I have had my fill of riots for one year and not working on a well earned break",
 tweets Allison Morris the morning after attending a football match in Glasgow,
 while the NUJ Appeals Tribunal hearing of her complaint takes place in London

Contrary to what she wrote in her reply to Ted Folkman regarding her inability to attend the NUJ hearing, it appears work commitments did not stand in the way of her attending a Celtic v Cliftonville match in Glasgow. Maybe Morris really meant July was a busy month for Cliftonville supporters. In fact her own tweet from two nights prior to the July 24 hearing, indicated she was not working but taking a break from it. At 8:28pm she tweeted, ‘I’m off and taking a hiatus from all news coverage’.

"I'm off and taking a hiatus from all news coverage"

Perhaps she was on the Sports Desk that week reporting on the Celtic-Cliftonville game in Glasgow. She must have been sleeping rough in the streets too given that as a single parent she couldn't justify the expense of a hotel. 

So was she lying or just being ethical in a way that she alone understands? If she was lying, when was she doing so  via her tweets about her holiday to Glasgow, or to Ted Folkman giving him an beal bocht? To her Editor, Noel Doran, or to her work colleagues and her Union? To her sources, or to her readers? Or does she just lie to everyone, whenever and wherever it suits her at any given moment?

Allison Morris & her partner in their Cliftonville supporter tops, 25 July 2013
 “I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Truth be told, I'm not all that upset. Can anyone believe anything Allison Morris writes anymore?

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