back to article The Times kills off blogger anonymity

The Times has overturned a court order which sought to protect the anonymity of a police blogger known as NightJack. The blog, which has now been deleted, detailed the life and views of a serving police detective. Earlier this year it won an Orwell prize for political writing. The blogger is Richard Horton a 45-year old …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Court was never going to uphold his right to privacy, they and the police both gain from crushing anyone who might think to express their knowledge of our corrupt system. That's why people leave reports on buses, or leak to opposition MPs, less chance of getting shafted by the powers that be.

    As to the paper, tshhh what more can you expect from the times it's only a bit above the daily mail.

  2. Paul Landon
    Thumb Down

    Well done lads

    "The blogger is Richard Horton a 45-year old detective constable with Lancashire Constabulary."

    Well done lads.

    erm, I have done the same

  3. BlueGreen

    I stumbled on this blog and read it occasionally

    and it was good, insightful, honest, deserving of its prize and now it's gone.

    Bravo, tossers. You will reduce the world to blankness in your efforts to scrape up a bit more profit.

    I hope all responsible get a eaten from the inside by giant worms worthy of a Lewis Page story.

  4. John Wilson
    Black Helicopters

    The same Eady?

    Assuming this is the same Eady from the Simon Singh case, it is clear that Eady is a contemptable ass, and a menace to free speech.

    (unless, of course, that's libelous, in which case he's as lovely as a puddy cat)

  5. Daniel Pimley
    Thumb Down

    Nice work

    I hope the tabloid hacks at The Times are proud of themselves.

  6. John Chadwick

    So what exactly was their point.

    What benefit did The Times get by killing off his anonymity, the blog has now vanished, so we can't judge for ourselves.

    Perhaps this is a cunning plan by Rupert to preserve newspapers as the only source of information.

    BTW. Wasn't Heartbeat based on the experiences of a Police Officer, did he get a written warning. Which is a pretty mild slap on the wrists for something unacceptable, so Lancashire Police what was your message. Don't do it if there's anybody looking.

  7. Bitsucker
    Thumb Down

    Well done Times!

    How does revealing the identity of a blogger advance the causes of journalism or free speech? I wonder if one reason for outing him is because the Times offered nothing remotely similar, and 'if you can't join them, beat them'. Maybe there was a public interest in disclosing that the blogger served in Lancashire, but none in releasing his name.

  8. EdwardP

    Bunch of Wankers.

    I'd been wondering why NightJack's had been down for the past few weeks.

    What a bunch of utter twats the Times have become. Nasty tabloid that it is now...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A policeman wanting anonymity, who'd have thunk it?

    The only newsworthy point is that a judge was sensible enough to deny him the luxury, for it is privilege not a right, that the police force so much wants to deny everyone else.

  10. Bumpy Cat

    Eady is a total tit

    That's Eady, the paragon of the UK legal system that has led to so much libel tourism. He seems to consistently make decisions contrary to common sense and human decency.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    The aristocracy of identity & information

    Busy trying to protect its monopoly on authoritative publishing going after the herds of anonymous cowards who sought to usurp it with the nuissance of unregulated non-aligned user generated content that isn't always symapathetic with the state / corporate interests.

    I'd recomend reading up on Chomsky & Ed Herman's "propaganda model" (manufacturing consent) for an insightful discussion and analysis of the corporate media modus operandii.

  12. Nigel Wright


    Yet the press routinely refuses to identify its sources.... <rolleyes>.

  13. adnim

    I am not surprised...

    "Lancs Police said Horton's behaviour was unacceptable and he had been given a written warning"

    .,.that honesty and integrity has been deemed unacceptable behaviour for a police officer.

    All very scary, this just cannot be allowed for where will it all end? These renegade policemen will be wanting to protect and serve the public interest instead of the state next.

  14. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Freedom of speech

    It's been said before, but with freedom of speech comes responsibility. Discuss.

    Use both sides of the paper if necessary.

  15. Paul Smith


    Why slag of the Times "Well done lads" for naming "The blogger is Richard Horton a 45-year old detective constable with Lancashire Constabulary."

    Little bit of pot, kettle, and black perhaps?

  16. Paul Dx

    What's sauce for the goose ...

    I assume that The Times will happily hand over the details of anybody who provides them with information ...

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Well "blogging" done, Times

    I think I had better come back to make a longer comment when I have calmed down a bit.

    If you only read one of Nightjack's posts, read this (copied elsewhere, as his blog has been restricted or removed, for reasons that are now obvious):

    Why was that post necessary? Read this:

  18. Mad Mike
    Thumb Down

    Public Interest

    Isn't this in the public interest and maybe whistleblowing?

    Shouldn't people know why police are so useless these days. All the paperwork, red tape etc.etc. that means they spend almost no time doing any useful detective work. His police force giving him a written warning just implies they want to hide things and therefore, by inference, have something to hide...........

    So much for an open and accountable police force.

  19. MinionZero

    The Times have proved themselves to be two faced hypocrites...

    The next time a paper publishes something, and then claims its sources are private, they are doing exactly the opposite of what they have done here. They want anonymity when its in their interest, yet they seek to undermine someone speaking out like this.

    Who's side are The Times on? ... was this simply a hidden political move behind this to undermine the blogger? ... Because that's exactly what has ended up happening. Its a typical move that political types use to find any way they can so silence people's opinions. So much for freedom of speech in this country.

    But then I guess once they install Phorm like Big Brother technology in every ISP, we will never again hear of cases like this, as they will then be able to silence all opposition opinions before it ever gets spoken about in papers, without the need of the courts to reveal the identities of bloggers.

    Also ironically it sounds like this case can now be used to undermine news paper sources once they publish them. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot.

  20. Brian Milner

    The traces remain

    There are some entries in Google's cache, e.g.:

  21. Ted Treen
    Thumb Down

    As usual..

    The Dirty Digger's minions are the first to scream if they are asked to identify any of their sources - but it seems no-one else is to be afforded the same courtesy/consideration.

    So a DC who tells it how it is is now admonished and his career will be blighted (c'mon, you KNOW it will) all for vainglorious hypocritical hacks.


  22. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Goodbye Whistleblowers...

    So we've seen a nurse struck off for revealing shortcomings in the NHS and now this copper has been given a warning for revealing shortcomings in the police.


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Chris W

    Please remember that although the police "service" in this country might not be nice, that does not necessarily apply to all the officers within it.

    This officer in particular was doing his bit to cause it to reform itself. But <a href=>ACPO Ltd</a> is incapable of reform, and will vindictively punish all who cross it.

  24. Thomas 4

    @Well "blogging" done, Times

    The guide really appealled to my bitter and cynical side. Too bad the blog was taken down, I'd have liked to have read more of it.

  25. Tawakalna

    no surprise..

    I really used to enjoy and be informed by NightJack's bloggings, he gave good straightforward advice for us plebs and was clearly a decent honest copper, that most endangered of species. Hardly a surpise, but still a f*cking disgrace, that he's been silenced and outed, even less of a surprise that it's yet another offering from Murdoch's Dark Empire of Lies that supports the current Peoples Democratic State formerly known as Britain.

    The Times, currently occupying a niche somewhere between the Sun and The Hate Mail (yes I know Murdoch doesn't publish the Mail but they're all the bl**dy same, the papers in this country)

  26. 1865
    Thumb Down

    Eady and Murdoch sitting in a tree...

    Justice Eady and Rupert Murdoch are two of the biggest blights on Britain in 2009. The Times must be happy that it first forced NightJack to shut down his blog, and then reveal his identity to his employers and the world and large. Well done; one of the the few intelligent, cynical and human voices on policing, politics and society has been silenced and may well now lose his job.

    For those who don't know of Eady... look up 'libel tourism', and see if you think he's a friend of free speech or not.

  27. James Henstridge


    So why exactly would anyone risk leaking public interest information to The Times if they act like this? If they didn't find the information interesting enough, they might publish a story about who leaked it ...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Chris W

    Thanks for pointing that out, Chris. Nice change of tone for this place.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public Servant

    if you are going to say something about your work, then you should put your name to it; it is not the private sector.

    If he was blogging about crocheting or the state of policing in some other country with no reference to UK policing then he could expect some privacy, but if he is going to blog about people, cases and claim to and work for the police, then he has no right to privacy on those matters.

    Things like this should be explained to the Police when they sign up, they are dealing with sensitive information that their public job allows them to be privy to, don't blog about that and expect not to get caught, it is an abuse of position and trust.

    Whereas a journalist would be ok dishing the dirt on their newspaper anonymously, but not to revealing a source, there are a different set of ethics involved.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    behaviour was unacceptable

    he's lucky he's still alive and hasn't been tasered, clubbed or similarly drubbed out of the force.

    As the judge said, "I find your lack of faith disturbing..."

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    If blogging is a public activity

    Why is there a 'post anonymously' option?

    This is another blow to free speech.

    AC because.....well, I might as well come out - I am the real Paris Hilton

  32. Christy Stoehr
    Thumb Down

    The Times are shits

    No doubt the Times will be disclosing all the names of their previously unattributed lobby briefers. Or not.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Author: Joe "No Comment" Blogs

    Murdochs lads & lassies were prob a bit pissed that the telegraph got the scoop on the expenses scandal.

  34. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Never trust one of Ruperts minions

    Always a sound policy.

  35. Chris C

    Public activity

    "The judge said Horton could not expect to remain anonymous because 'blogging is essentially a public rather than a private activity'."

    And his point is... what, exactly? Publishing a novel is essentially a public rather than a private activity as well, and yet we allow novel authors to use aliases in order to protect their true identity. Why is this any different?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go bust

    The sooner the newspapers go bust the better, bunch of lying useless shits that they are. I havent bought a paper in years and neither will I.

  37. Seán


    The process of elimination is sure made a lot easier when everyone knows who wrote the stuff.

    I presume the Reg would blow stuff up and kill people to preserve the anonymity of it's anonymous cowards. Am I right or is it open season all over?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @AC at 15:38 GMT

    If you work for a company or in an orginisation that you disaprove of you expose it and leave it or you just leave it. Saying that the officers arent bad but the police service is a bad excuse. You have a choice do the dirty work the UK police does these days and stand by it or quiet. Its that simple. If you work for bad people you are a bad person end of stoy.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Judge Eady?

    Beyond that I will not comment for fear of libel action. I would urge others to be very careful as well. The UK has the worst libel laws of any Western civilisation. Free speech is no protected nor, even, is scientific rigour.

  40. James Pickett

    Quid pro quo

    What we need now is a judge's blog, although I realise the problem might be finding one who knows how to plug it in...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @AC 15:38

    >This officer in particular was doing his bit to cause it to reform itself.

    You reform things by standing up and being counted and if in doing so you martyr yourself so be it, you don't hide behind unverifiable anonymity.

    So he said a few thing on his blog that appealed to public opinion, apparently the Daily Mail does the same. This does not mean he genuinely believed all he wrote nor that it was fact, after all blogging is nothing but sort of a narcissistic vacuous popularity contest.

  42. James Hughes 1

    Easy to get round

    Just get someone else to write up the blog for you.

    Although I suppose a good tasering might get the name of the author out of the blog owner.

  43. This post has been deleted by its author

  44. El Richard Thomas

    Re: Go bust

    "I havent bought a paper in years and neither will I"

    People with multiple personalities really should register a separate account for each one, much less confusing.

  45. Lottie


    So commenting on what's wrong with the system and you're not entitled to privacy, but when filmed beating the living shit out of innocent people, the opposite applies?

  46. Rob 59

    I've not read that blog but...

    If he was giving away case details or sensitive police information then he has to take the bullet IMO. In anyother job depending on what you were writing about you could quite rightly expect to be dismissed let alone a written.

    Anyway if he had some proof of genuine corruption, couldn't he have used wikileaks?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Embarrassed? They should be.

    Times Online have stopped posting reader comments on the story. I wonder if their ears are burning?

  48. Anonymous Coward

    @El Richard Thomas

    People with multiple personalities really should register a separate account for each one, much less confusing.

    Our thoughts, exactly.

    Anyway, eady is a wanker.

  49. Steve Taylor 3
    Thumb Down

    @Chris W

    > You reform things by standing up and being counted and if in doing so you martyr yourself so be it, you don't hide behind unverifiable anonymity.

    Why should he martyr himself Chris? For your amusement?

  50. Anonymous Coward

    So... I guess...

    Anonymous, PUBLIC, FREE-SPEECH... about important PUBLIC-ISSUES... is only "protected"... if you dont say anything "publicly"..?

    Yeah... THAT, sure, makes sense... and clearly, "...serves the public interest".

  51. Anonymous Coward


    Well this guy won the Orwell prize for his article "The Evil Poor" and in the article he goes on to moan about these money leeching, criminal poor... he spends most of it pounding the vitriol into the eyes of the reader and quibbles that there is nothing the police can do about them it's up to the people.

    When asked as to how he thinks the Evil Poor came about he refuses to admit that society may have some part to play and that basically means that you must believe they are born this way so then he was asked well if that's the case why not profile them and exterminate them at birth or send them to camps.... He didn't respond

    It's not that he doesn't deserve the right to privacy, it's that he got the ironically names "Orwell prize" for a very dystopian and ultimately pointless article. which is a shame.

    Should he of been outed ? maybe, should he have the right to criticize his employer without fear of punishment... yes. Though I odn't like whatthey guy is saying he needs oto have the freedom to say it.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Steve Taylor 3

    >Why should he martyr himself Chris?

    I never said he personally should, I said in general terms aplicable to all ACs that if it is a consequence of standing up and being counted for something one truely believes is the right thing to do then one should accept that. If someone doesn't believe enough in their cause to suffer the consequences of voicing their concerns then they should keep their opinions to themselves.

  53. EdwardP 1

    @Anonymous Coward

    "When asked as to how he thinks the Evil Poor came about he refuses to admit that society may have some part to play and that basically means that you must believe they are born this way..."

    Uhh, show your working. References?

    Unlike you I've read his "Evil Poor" related posts and every single one asserts that they are the product of their environment.

    Yes, his rhetoric was scathing, but it was fair.

  54. Smarty Pants


    Points :-

    1 a source is different to an author

    2 reading his blog (as I did) would you not want to know if he was a 16yr old with a grudge or Sir Ian Blair - it would make a difference

    all in all I think the Times were right to 'out' him but Lancs Police were wrong to discipline

  55. Anonymous Coward

    The consequences of "free-speech"...

    @Chris W

    >> ">> "I never said he personally should, I said in general terms aplicable[sic] to all ACs that if it is a consequence of standing up and being counted for something one truely [sic] believes is the right thing to do then one should accept that. If someone doesn't believe enough in their cause to suffer the consequences of voicing their concerns then they should keep their opinions to themselves."


    That, is truly the MOST absolutely RIDICULOUSLY, asinine assertion... that has ever been made about "Free Speech". In fact, it has been so utterly dis-proven by thousands of years of human-history.. as to make the, mere, assertion the HEIGHT of IGNORANCE (just, look at every CORRUPT despot in history, or the many, DESTRUCTIVE, major religious-orders, ...or, even, China, today).

    If... the powerful can, virtually, UTTERLY DESTROY someones life... if they even question the status-quo... then those in power can UTTERLY-CONTROL EVERYONE (even, their-own).

    ...And, they WILL ...And, DO (...thats just the REALITY we have to live with).

    THAT... "Chris W"... is the very reason for "...anonymity". In the end, it has been PROVEN that ->IT<- (anonymous free-speech) is, literally, the ONLY THING that protects the INNOCENT, the oppressed, and the "publics..." TRUE "...freedom".

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The consequences of "free-speech"...

    It's hard to argue with such a well thought out and reasoned response but I'll try.

    You mentioned China, the world didn't really take notice of the Tiananmen Square protests until it got a good photoshoot opportunity and a lone protester stood in front of the tanks.

    Currently there are protests in Iran where people are brave enough to go out on the streets and defy their Government. Do you think the world would take as much notice if they sat at home whingeing in an anonymous blog?

    Sometimes you have to take one for the team.

    If that's not for you then by all means hide behind the anonymity of a coward but when push comes to shove the only way to change things is to, as I have said, stand up and be counted

    Repression thrives on cowardicy and people not knowing that there are others who are like them. When one stands up then others will follow, if you don't get past that first step then you are doomed to hide and cower and moan in silence.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    WOAH... there, Mr. anonymity is "cowardice"...

    @ "Chris W"

    Again, you seem to utterly miss the point. This isnt about "cowardice"... OR, bravery. This IS, actually, about the, very, ABILITY to oppose those that hold "power". And, for your personal information (since you seem to have, somehow, missed it) "China" is STILL a repressive, totalitarian, dictatorship. They [Chinese authoritarians] have NOT changed one bit. Those in power have NOT paid any real price for their VIOLENT REPRESSION of "...the people". There are NO MORE, continuing, protests (or even real discussion) of the matter, in China. And, the world barely even pays lip-service to the incident, these days.

    Furthermore, those that, "bravely" took part in those, non-anonymous, "Tiananmen Square protests" (those that are still alive, that is)... and, could not remain "anonymous"... are now in PRISON (or, have otherwise had their lives COMPLETELY-DESTROYED... by those IN POWER).

    And, that is pretty-much the same thing that is happening in "Iran".

    THAT, is NOT "Freedom"... Nor, bravery... Nor, "cowardice". That is simply... REALITY.

    Your entire... if you want to do the RIGHT-thing, or release information that is VITAL to "public interests"... then, you MUST be willing to lose EVERYTHING to do it... attitude, may be fine for you, personally, or even me (I have never been shy of conflict, OR personal CONSEQUENCES, for doing what I thought was RIGHT)... BUT, to impose, or allow, that ABUSIVE-RHETORIC as the standard (of "freedom") has NEVER worked, in ANY "free society"... PERIOD. And, I reiterate, that it is absolutely ASININE to honestly demand it... and, CRIMINAL to intentionally MISUSE it to silence, truly, "Free Speech".

    And, by the way... before you even start... just for the record...I chose to post "anonymously" (to this, particular thread)... to make a point, NOT to avoid anything, out of "fear", or "cowardice" (Please, see above). However, I do feel that the position that I am expressing is... very much... the RIGHT thing to do.

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