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Legal ramifications as judge unmasks blogger

Karl Flinders

The decision of a judge to allow the identity of police blogger, DC Richard Horton, to be made public could set a precedent that sees bloggers reluctant to blog freely.

Horton, of Lancashire Constabulary, wrote about his experiences of frontline policing in his NightJack blog, which won the Orwell blogging prize. The blog mentions investigations and people under pseudonyms.

A journalist from The Times uncovered Horton as the blog's author, Horton sought an injunction from the High Court to prohibit the newspaper from publishing the information. But a judge rejected this and said blogging is a public, not a private activity.

"For authors of blogs wishing to remain anonymous, particularly authors of blogs that reveal confidential or controversial information about their employer, this judgment serves as a warning that the courts will generally not offer protection if their identities are discovered and threatened to be published," said legal firm Cameron McKenna.

Bloggers can no longer expect their private lives and blogging to be kept separate.

Chris Skinner, CEO at financial services think-tank the Financial Services Club and daily blogger,, said the Horton case showed that people mentioned in the blog under pseudonyms could be traced in real life. "This could affect what happens in a courtroom."

"As a blogger I am prepared to put everything I say to my name."

Horton received a warning from his employers about the blogging.


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