Welcome to another edition of the reformatted Well, that happened… As always, I welcome any feedback or thoughts you might have. I’m easy to get in touch with.
In the news summary below, you will find a story about a leading businessman alleged to have engaged in sexual harassment and racial misconduct. The Telegraph has been embroiled in a legal fight to publish the story, having spoken to alleged victims who were made to sign NDA’s and received significant payouts. However, an injunction was placed on the story by the second most senior judge in England and Wales. His reasoning for imposing the injunction was the importance of respecting legally binding contracts.
Labour peer Peter Hain used parliamentary privilege to circumvent the reporting restrictions to name the businessman as Sir Philip Green, chairman of the Arcadia Group and previous owner of BHS prior to its downfall.
I have mixed feelings about Hain’s actions. On the one hand, I fully support the freedom of the press, and think that in this instance the gagging order was absolutely unwarranted. The use of NDA’s to silence possible victims of abuse is nauseating, and to see that practice supported in the court is troublesome. There was clear public interest in this story, and for the High Court to be overturned on their initial ruling is personally perplexing. I believe it to be equally important that Parliament be free to discuss issues without fear of legal ramifications, otherwise we could see a legitimate hindrance to democracy.
However, this is not the first time that a parliamentarian has used their privilege to circumvent reporting restrictions. Although it is encouraging to see our representatives willing to break stories that the press have been wrongly restricted from covering, I do worry about the precedent it sets. The courts play an important function in this country, and it is important we don’t allow Parliament to diminish their power by flaunting the law whenever it feels like.
As I said, I think in this instance it was absolutely the right thing to do, I don’t feel this has always been the case. One example was the naming of footballer Ryan Giggs as the celebrity who took out an injunction to prevent details of his alleged affair. Although there was ‘public interest’ in the story, it was more a sensationalised gossip piece rather than a story that will spark real discussion around current cultural norms, values and behaviours. At the time it sparked some wider debate around privacy laws in the UK, but it appears that nothing has changed since 2011.
Politicians shouldn’t get in the habit of breaking privacy injunctions. It runs the risk of diminishing the power of the courts, or becoming exploited for ‘good personal press’. Worse still, it might force through reform that limits parliamentary privilege that could damage democracy. It is reassuring to see politicians supporting the press, especially given the current political climate, but let’s make sure that relationship doesn’t become a detriment to wider society.
700,000 march for a People’s Vote on Brexit
An estimated 700,000 people took to the streets of London on 20 October to demand a people’s vote on the terms of any Brexit deal, the second largest protest in the UK this century since the Stop the War demonstration in 2003. Carrying witty and creative placards, the march started at Park Lane and marched to a rally at Parliament Square. However, due to the overwhelming number of people, many at the back didn’t get to hear the speeches at Parliament Square as it was packed out.
Speaking to Voice, campaign group For our Future’s Sake said that a People’s Vote should be offered because “it’s becoming painfully clear that the gap between what was promised two years versus what is being delivered on people’s doorsteps grows every day.”
A pro-Brexit counterprotest was hosted in Harrogate - one of three areas in Yorkshire to vote remain - and was attended by Nigel Farage and 1,200 others.
Journalist murdered in Saudi Arabian consulate
Confusion continues to swirl around what exactly happened to missing Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Reports of his absence first broke on 2 October, after Khasoggi visited a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabian officials first insisted that he left the consulate alive, but there was no CCTV to corroborate this. 18 days later they changed their story to claim that Kashoggi had died in a fist fight, before then revising the story again to say that the reporter had been murdered in a “rogue operation” that the leadership had not been aware of.
A joint Saudi-Turkish task force has since been quoted as saying that his murder was “premeditated”. Prince Mohammed has promised to punish those responsible, although Turkish security sources are quotes as saying that the operation was overseen by a top aid to the crown prince. Reports are now stating that CIA director Gina Haspel has heard audio recordings allegedly capturing the murder.
Landmark report calls for action on declining art and culture provisions
A new report commissioned by Arts Council England and undertaken by experts at the School of Education, University of Nottingham highlights the ‘overwhelmingly positive benefits’ of arts and cultural education on the lives of young people. Involving schools and teachers working with the Royal Shakespeare Company, (RSC) or Tate, the ways in which this type of learning fosters social and emotional skills needed both in and outside of an education context such as imagination and self worth were examined from 6,000 responses of 11-18 year olds.
As a result of the findings, the RSC and Tate are urging action to support the delivery of arts and cultural education to all young people. Amongst the steps suggested, considerations of the curriculum; perceptions of value; Ofsted; a review of the recognition of these subjects by Russell Group Universities; a pupil premium, and rewarding teachers for taking the role of an ‘arts broker’ were all featured.
‘Worrying drop’ in older pupils at area-based ensemblesA report by Birmingham City University into ‘area-based’ ensemble (group focused) participation at music hubs across the country has found a drop in those accessing the services in the 14-18 age range. The music hubs aim to increase the number of young people engaging with music education, and are facilitated by groups of organisations working together such as schools, local authorities and community organisations. Their findings show a decrease in young people playing in ‘area based ensembles’ of more than six percent from 2015/16-2016/17. Additionally it found that whilst the hubs delivered or supported a total of 16,809 ensembles or choirs in 2016/17, (an increase of 1,943 from the previous year), they still only reach 9.2% of the overall population in primary and secondary state funded schools.
Source: School Week
British businessman gets gagging order preventing publication of sexual harassment and racial abuse allegations
The Telegraph this week published a story stating that a leading businessman has been granted an injunction prevented them from publishing the findings from an eight month investigation into alleged bullying and sexual harassment. The businessman had his alleged victims sign NDA's, meaning they are under contractual obligation to not talk about the events that took place. The paper has been in a legal fight since July, where a High Court judge first ruled that there was an overwhelming public interest in the story, but that decision was overruled by Sir Terence Etherton, the second most senior judge in England and Wales. His reasoning for this was that because the alleged victims signed NDA's, the legally binding contracts should be respected.
However, even as I write this, Labour peer Lord Hain used parliamentary privilege to name Sir Philip Green, chairman of Arcadia Group, as the “leading businessmen” who obtained a privacy injunction.
UK’s gender wage gap lowest on record
The UK’s gender pay gap fell to its lowest level on record this year, according to a new report by the ONS. The annual survey of pay found that the gap between full-time workers had fallen to 8.6% in April 2018, down from 9.1% in 2017 and 17.4% in 1997. The gap between males and females in their 20’s and 30’s was less than 1.5%, but 12.8% for people in their 40’s and 15.5% in their 50’s.
The report also found that there is a pay penalty for mothers after they have had children, as hourly part-time pay is significantly lower than full-time. 28% of women aged 22-30 are in part time work, which rises to 38% of women in their 30s and 41% in their 40’s.
Source: Financial Times
Paul Allen dies, aged 65
Co-founder of Microsoft, investor and philanthropist Paul Allen has died of cancer, aged 65. The magnate was instrumental in helping Bill Gates set up Microsoft, even coming up with the name. He served as the executive vice-president of research and new product development until 1983 when he left the company for health reasons. As an avid sports fan, he owned the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks.
Radio 2 Drivetime show to get new presenters
The Radio 2 Drivetime show with Simon Mayo and Jo Whiley is ending after just a few months on air, with Mayo leaving Radio 2 altogether. Mayo has presented Drivetime for eight years, but the station added Whiley as a co-host in May to attempt to address the gender inequality. The move received significant backlash, with critics citing the duo’s lack of chemistry. Mayo will continue his 5 Live film show with Mark Kermode, while Whiley will move to the 7-9pm slot to present a new show centred around music.
Source: BBC | Image: Leigh Keily/BBC
Red Dead Redemption 2 reignites debate about ‘crunch time’ culture
In the lead up to the release of the much awaited Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser conducted an interview suggesting that the team worked 100-hour weeks several times throughout 2018. There was immediate backlash from the media and the public, given the current microscope being held up to working conditions in the game industry following the shock closure of Telltale Games. Houser came out to clarify that it was just the senior writing team working such long hours, and “No one, senior or junior, is ever forced to work hard," but crunch is a systemic part of game development.
Crunch is a period shortly before a games release where there is increased pressure on employees to iron out bugs and finish the game. It requires frequent, often mandatory, overtime, sometimes without compensation, and the lack of job security means people are often unable to refuse.
The reviews for Red Dead Redemption 2 are so far offering critical acclaim, so some might argue that the work pressures are worth it. Personally, I would argue a person’s health is never worth compromising.
Lyn Gardner joins Stagedoor
The theatre critic Lyn Gardner, best known for her work in The Guardian and The Stage has joined Stagedoor, an app dedicated to providing a comprehensive guide to London’s theatre scene. Gardner, who recently has her contract with The Guardian terminated due to the decision that ‘she was not part of their long-term plans for theatre coverage’ said in her welcome note ‘Why I chose Stagedoor’ that her contribution will include show specific recommendations, longer thematic articles, as well as an aim to be ‘responsive to theatre itself’.