Lord Clement-Jones, the Liberal Democrat Lord whose amendment to the Digital Economy Bill would have got websites blocked by the courts, has now admitted that he tabled amendments for the BPI, and for James Murdoch's Sky, as well as for consumer groups and the Internet industry.
Does it make it ok because he tabled amendments for everyone? Is it not rather a betrayal of all parties, not least of which are the UK citizens?
LordClement-Jones revelation in the Guardian informs us more about the corruption at the highest levels of Westminster. He appears to have thrown his toys out of the pram in the interview with the Guardian, saying that it would be 'ludicrous' to declare his interest in his law firm, DLA Piper, each time he 'opened his mouth' in the House of Lords.
According to The Guardian, Lord Clement-Jones hasworked with the FA Premier League to clamp down on websites offering live coverage of football games without the organisation's permission. The same report says that he also advised Universal Music about its digital music plans, and points out that his amendment could get YouTube blocked by a court.
The web blocking amendment he tabled was drafted by the BPI (the four major music labels, which include Universal whom he advises). This was revealed first on iptegrity.com (see my previous articles). His weak defence was the everybody does it, and there is 'nothing unusual' in tabling an amendment for a lobbying firm such as the BPI, 'if they have merit'. The question is, on what basis does this BPI proposal have merit, and on what basis is Lord Clement-Jones making that judgement?
He admitted that his firm works for 'thousands' of clients worldwide in the high-tech industries. He now admits that he tabled amendments for the ISP industry. The ISPs are desparate to block this Bill, and they most definitely oppose the BPI and its attack on their industry.
Very few of the amendments the ISPs wanted actually got into the law, and those that did were of minimal impact. The law is going ahead in much the same shape that it started.
This would suggest that he has betrayed them in his own interest. The BPI web blocking amendment will harm high-tech companies, as will the copyright enforcement measures which make up a majority of the Digital Economy Bill.
Lord Clement-Jones' firm, DLA Piper, will stand to gain from the fees they will have to pay in order to avoid the onerous liabilities that are going to fall on them with the Digital Economy Bill. And as a partner, he will gain personally when the firm's profits are divided up.
He went on to attack the Internet users, making an unsubstantiated accusation about 'unpleasant comments'. What he does not see is that people are angry at him for abusing a privilege, and working to change the law to benefit not only his clients but his own pocket. His claim to have tabled amendments for the consumer champion, Which? rings hollow.
On the other hand, it might be interesting if a few more of their Lordships threw their toys out of the pram. Then the UK public might learn what the true level of corruption in Westminster is. The expenses scandal only scratched the surface, don't you think?
Here is the Guardian article.This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010)Liberal peer tabled for Murdoch, BPI and ISPs http://www.iptegrity.com 27 March 2010