To publish or not to publish, that is the question newspaper editors grapple with every day. When bringing life altering accusations towards individuals or classified material from hackers to the pages, every editor knows that the conduct of their journalists’ investigations and how the information was obtained will be heavily scrutinised as well as asking why they are publishing in the first place.
When the British press faces such challenges, there exists the noble justification of the ‘public interest’. But the WikiLeaks scandal offered a good example of the divisiveness this argument can cause, with a number of key revelations potentially exposing innocent individuals named in the documents and the leakers themselves facing significant consequences.
And so to the ‘ambassador affair’. In an update from the London Metropolitan Police on its investigation into who leaked Kim Darroch’s diplomatic cables, they said that publishing any more of the cables’ contents would be in breach of the Official Secrets Act. In other words, editors continuing to use the leak as an easy front-page headline could face criminal charges.
The response from politicians across party lines, rather than support the security services, has been to back the newspapers. Both Conservative leadership candidates argued the curtailing of a paper’s right to publish these leaks should not take place, regardless of the source.
It is interesting that backing the press over the police is seen as the better look for Conservative voters. Yet two elements may explain Johnson and Hunt’s willingness to override security concerns. The first is that, as of yet, there is a clear separation between the crime of leaking these cables and the journalists publishing them. This makes it far easier to treat the act of publishing as a separate issue.
The second is that, unlike something as large scale as WikiLeaks, the impact of the ambassador affair is limited and concentrated on a few figures. Kim Darroch has now resigned from his role as a result of the leaks though few have disputed the assessments of the sitting US President he makes in the cables.
The fact remains that leaking sensitive data can pose enormous risks to national and international security and the motives of those leaking sensitive data must always be as thoroughly investigated as those of the editors who choose to publish the data.
Severe criticism and accusations of racism have been made against Donald Trump. These followed inflammatory tweets in which he stated ‘the squad’ of four prominent left-wing Democratic congresswomen, should “go back to the crime infested places from which they came”. The comments were made despite three of the women having been born in the United States while the fourth moved to the country as a young child.
The Resolution Foundation has warned of the dangers of an upcoming UK recession. Coming ahead of the launch of its Macroeconomic Policy Unit, the Foundation argues the risk of a recession was now “relatively high” and that efforts should be made to prepare the country’s economy for this.
It is expected that Direct Rule will be reimposed on Northern Ireland by October. The Northern Irish Assembly has not sat since January 2017, with negotiations to secure a cross-party government yet to show any sign of progress. If these negotiations aren’t successful by the latest Brexit deadline, it is felt that civil servants shouldn’t be making potentially controversial decisions on how to use the Assembly’s new powers post-Brexit. (£)
Business & Economy
It has been reported that Facebook will face a ¢5bn fine from US regulators. The fine comes after the Federal Trade Commission concluded its investigation into how Cambridge Analytica managed to obtain up to 87 million Facebook users’ data. The fine has been criticised in some quarters as too little, with Facebook’s share price increasing by 1.8% upon the reports coming out.
The Chinese Government’s National Development & Reform Commission has published draft guidelines to support businesses and private enterprise. The proposals include greater intellectual property protections and greater support for businesses to boost the economy. The guidelines come as statistics revealed the country went through its lowest growth in 27 years.
The Competition & Markets Authority has announced that Sainsbury’s will not be permitted to relaunch its takeover plans of Asda for the next decade. The decision also included the stipulation that Asda must not engage in its own reverse takeover bid or in any efforts to partner with another major supermarket rival.
The Week Ahead
In the US, today begins a run of the ‘big 6’ banks publishing their Q2 results, starting with CitiGroup. It is expected these will be hit by the US Federal Reserve refusing to budget last week on interest rates. Reports have suggested also suggested revenues are down 8-10%. The ramifications from China’s latest economic statistics will also likely play out. The country experienced a 6.2% growth rate in Q2, the lowest growth it has seen in 27 years. The US-China trade dispute has been cited a key factor.
The G7 finance ministers are due to meet in Paris on Wednesday, with a number of issues to be resolved. These range from fears over escalating tensions in Iran, arguments that African countries need greater monetary support and increased borrowing by European countries.
In the UK, the big events this week are the annual meetings of fashion retailer Burberry and the Royal Mail. Both have had a difficult year, though Burberry is expected to turn around its previously reported 6% fall in pre-tax profits for the year. The Royal Mail meeting will centre on how it can stem the damage from a 32% fall in profits.
Columns of Note
With the expectation that Boris Johnson will be the next Prime Minister to try to resolve Brexit, Jennifer Rankin and Jim Waterson of the Guardianhave highlighted how Johnson’s rise within Conservative politicscame through his role as theDaily Telegraph Brussels Correspondent. It details through interviews with colleagues at the time his willingness to take “niche pieces of European regulation” and recast them as attacks on the UK’s sovereignty. While building his reputation, the piece also argues such pieces “sowed the seeds” for the Eurosceptic movement he would go on to spearhead.
Vinson Cunningham of theNewYorkeroffers up his retelling of the blackout in New York this weekend. In a largely observational pierce on how a city and its denizens react when the lights go out, he joins the “clumps” of walkers through the streets heading to their homes in Brooklyn. On his travels, he notes how a place as spectacular as Times Square can look “a little flimsy” when lacking the hundreds of thousands of bulbs and LEDs it can usually call on to illuminate the night.
Did you know?
While yesterday’s Cricket World Cup final was done and dusted in less than half a day, the longest cricket match ever recorded was a nine-day epic between South Africa and England in 1939.
Home Office (including Topical Questions)
High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill: remaining stages
To approve a Statutory Instrument relating to the draft Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 - Kit Malthouse
Northern Ireland motorsport taskforce report - Ian Paisley
House of Lords
Government discussions with the BBC on sources of funding before the BBC announced plans to cease providing free TV licences for those 75 or older - Lord Naseby
Increasing the use of automation in the NHS - Baroness Seccombe
Government action to combat childhood obesity - Baroness Jenkin of Kennington
Progress on implementing the Government's Litter Strategy for England - Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury
Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – Committee stage - Lord Duncan of Springbank
50th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing on 20 July 1969 - Lord Mawson
In recess until Tuesday 1 September.
House of Commons
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Flexible Working - Helen Whately
Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill [Lords]: 2nd reading
Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill [Lords] - Jesse Norman
Debate on a Motion relating to the Inter-Ministerial Group on Early Years Family Support - Andrea Leadsom, Lucy Powell, Norman Lamb
Access to drugs to treat Batten disease - Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg
House of Lords
Improving rural bus services - Baroness Randerson
Implementation of the EU Settlement Scheme - Lord Greaves
Reports that children have been separated from their parents in migrant detention camps in the US - Lord Roberts of Llandudno
Impact of NHS usage of devices such as Amazon’s Alexa for health care advice - Lord Patel
Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) (No.3) Bill - Second reading and remaining stages - Lord Young of Cookham
International Relations Committee report: 'Rising nuclear risk, disarmament and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty' - Lord Howell of Guildford
EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee report: 'Brexit: the European Investment Bank' - Baroness Falkner of Margravine
In recess until Tuesday 1 September.