Freedom of the Press

In a country which professes to act as a beacon for Democracy, Free Speech, Human Rights, Justice and "Sound Science" it was disconcerting to be told that those who could offer the press a more truthful view were locked in a separate room away from the press when the controversial COT report on organophosphate poisoning was released last year.

It is also worrying to see that an MP who is known to be interested in environmental issues has been forced to apply to the Data Protection Agency in order to discover if the British Secret Service have kept files on him.
He is not alone since information suggests that those who have been harmed by the chemical and drug companies may find their telephone conversations tapped, fax messages diverted, letters opened and unwanted tampering with E-mails and computer files.

Those who show an interest in "green" issues may find themselves regarded as part of activist groups by those who wish to find any excuse to gain information about their private lives using the above methods.
The present UK Government is presiding over a surveillance system which has seen greater levels of telephone tapping than the country has ever known, even in time of war.

In any ordinary circumstances the media of any country would demand an explanation as to why it is that obviously sick individuals are denied their rights in this way. If this was happening in Russia there would be front page headlines about "State Oppression".

Why is the media not prepared to cover the issues raised on these pages?
Many of the victims have been seen by reporters from press and television and most have handed over vital supporting evidence gained at much expense and in difficult circumstances. Many have given statements, photographic evidence, medical opinions and correspondence which add detail to the terrible tale which could be told.

Some have even risked their own health and legal actions by taking part in television documentaries or making films only to have those works cast aside by the companies who give in to the pressure for silence. A few broadcasts do get through, usually in restricted areas and at times when few will see them, but the expected follow up stories in the press rarely follow.

Letters to the press are rarely printed and censorship is commonplace.

Some victims have even travelled to studios for live "on-air" broadcasts and managed to voice some of the more controversial subjects only to find that the programme broadcast was not that in which they took part and the listeners have heard not a word.

This is supposed to be a Democratic Nation which allows people with the most controversial and dangerous political views to voice them and yet those harmed by the multi-nationals are denied a voice.
Sometimes it appears that terrorists are treated with more respect.

There is much talk about "D" Notices which are imposed on the media in order to prevent information considered to be damaging to the country being reported. If this is the reason for the censorship then that method is being abused by Government and by the media.
The issues raised on this site are issues which directly effect the health of every individual in the Nation be it man, woman, child or the as yet unborn future generations.
The facts are supportable by evidence gained over many years.
There may be hidden reasons seemingly unrelated to Government which may explain the general indifference to what is a growing concern.

The need for insurance cover may be an influencing factor should an accused company threaten to sue if certain facts are published.
The control over the press by individuals with financial interests in the companies subject to the exposure may be another.
Financial pressures imposed by potential compensation claims may be another but that is no excuse for hiding serious adverse health effects of chemicals which can only cause illness in an ever growing proportion of the population.
Perhaps the real reason is the need to protect the reputations of senior individuals in our society but if this is the case then those reputations are already beyond salvation.

Whatever the reason the result is clear.
All those who show an interest are at first horrified at what they discover and declare an intent to expose what are obvious wrongs.
That attitude soon changes to one of fear, even to mention what they know, and reports are heard that threats have been made.
Those threats may take the form of ending a career or instigating court action but sometimes veiled threats may have the individual fearful that life may not continue and damage to property will sometimes be used to emphasise the point.
Financial pressure has been put on victims with threats to cause bankruptcy or other financial difficulties.

Everyone has to live and it is all too easy to take the easy way out.

The majority of the victims are innocent individuals who have never had the need to deal with such situations before.
Many are farm workers who have given their lives to the work of feeding others and caring for animals for very low wages and in poor working conditions.

If powerful organisations have to resort to such extreme methods to hide the truth told by honest, weak, and poisoned people then we should all be worried.

Dated 16/9/2000

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