Friday, 29 October 2010

Don Mitchell CBE QC – blog hero

Corruption-free Anguilla (linked HERE) has been the blog site of Don Mitchell since December 2006 but it looks likely to be closed down.

It is a great loss. The site was set up as “A discussion site for Good Governance and Corruption in Public Life issues in the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla…”

What is especially unusual is that the blogger is a much respected lawyer, and former Magistrate and Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court circuit.  He is the equivalent of a Bailiff turned blogger.

Don Mitchell started as a lawyer in St. Kitts and worked extensively in the West Indies and has been based in Anguilla for many years in private and public practice.

He was awarded the CBE by the Queen in 2005 for his public services in the Eastern Caribbean and retired soon afterwards starting his extraordinary and brave blog site, twelve months later.

The vast range of his outpourings has been amazing and deserves to be studied and saved before they are removed from the net entirely. His writing is always well informed and his articles on human rights and constitutional issues are as relevant in Jersey as they are 3,000 miles away.

If you have never looked at Corruption-free Anguilla – DO SO NOW – whilst you still have the chance and bear in mind that even such a highly qualified lawyer as Don Mitchell can be forced off the internet by a complaint.

This is not the first time that Don has been threatened with legal action and it seems that the libel laws in the Caribbean are much more favourable to the complainant but, make no mistake, it can happen here too. All bloggers should realise that they run the risk of challenge even over simple and genuine mistakes.

Just a few months ago Gibraltar Vox (yes Voice) was closed after paying substantial damages as a result of a story posted re abuse allegations in a children’s home on the Rock.

In the UK there have been several cases where lobby/NGO groups have been taken to court and substantial damages awarded against them and the whole issue of blog-sites vulnerability is causing a great deal of concern to accredited and non-accredited journalists alike.

Proposition 100 in Jersey is our petty government’s latest attempt to target bloggers and to restrict free speech and expression. This will be discussed in the States in November and will no doubt receive approval because our so called representatives will fall for the lie that “bloggers” are immune to control or restraint.

In fact of course, we do not have a clue who is to be classed as an “accredited journalist” under the Proposition 100 rules. There is no list of journalists working in Jersey or any standard form of qualification or registration or process for discipline. Outside “journalists” can turn up here and undertake covert recordings at a local bank and nobody says a thing!

Bloggers like Don Mitchell or Team Voice would not dream of such conduct but our elected representatives in Jersey are seeking to control us – not the errant “accredited” media outlets that are regularly discredited at both local and national level.

We understand that Don Mitchell’s wife Margaret is from Jersey and that she is active in many Caribbean charities and good causes such as Animal Rescue and the Anguilla Soroptomists which has human rights and environmental sub-groups. We know too that Don has been teaching law in Anguilla and is a writer on Caribbean history and many other things but we have never met them and know else little about them.

However, we at Team Voice cannot watch the demise of this most important blog-site without expressing our profound regret and hope that any personal damage to Don and his wife is minimal and temporary.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

Proposition 100 has been withdrawn by the Jersey Government so this silly threat to free expression has passed for the moment.

But of course, it will no doubt come back in some other form next year.

Human Rights abuse is not just a Chinese problem - perhaps the UK Prime Minister would like to visit Jersey and make a speech here? Even better would be if a few of our own so called representatives joined with Bob Hill in his solitary campaigns to focus attention on this most neglected part of Jersey's "international personality".....

måle radon said...

I think ,All bloggers should realise that they run the risk of challenge even over simple and genuine mistakes.