Christmas Eve 2017. As North Korea and the United States of America both threaten to take action against countries voting against them in the United Nations, Henley and Partners decide to do a bit of bullying of their own and attempt to silence the Shiftnews portal. Writing in the Shift today, the editorial team explains how letters threatening legal action were received by H&P in an attempt to silence them.
The peddlers of passports have taken offence at an article published in the Shift that reported what was already international news – “Henley and Partners involved in Grenada diplomatic passports scandal”. The article in fact quotes a number of other international sources that were already running the same story (see for example Caribbean News Now!). That is not the main point really.
The point is that Henley and Partners are not new to this business of using financial duress as a baton to beat critics of their operations into submission. Daphne Caruana Galizia had herself reported receiving a series of harassing and threatening letters from the legal representatives of Henley and Partners. Most of the local mainstream press has now openly admitted to succumbing to similar legal threats and to being obliged to remove articles covering the Pilatus bank scandal.
The SLAPP – strategic lawsuit against public participation – menace is a reality. Here is wikipedia’s definition:
“A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.”
SLAPPs are yet another weapon in this era of post-truth that is available to those who would be more comfortable with the existence of multiple “alternate truths” from which to choose. A SLAPP lawsuit helps create a world where one particular version of the truth vanishes from circulation – not because it was untrue but because it became too expensive to assert.
One way to fight this assault on freedom of expression is to make it impossible for the SLAPP lawsuit to become effective. Each and every one of us can be part of this. Pick up the news that they want to suppress. Circulate it. Retweet it. Instagram it. Blog it. Facebook it. SLAPP that bitch up.
I stand with the ShiftNews Team and I am reproducing all the necessary links in this post. Better still I am attaching a PDF of the text of the post that Henley and Partners want to vanish… .download it and circulate it.
and a Merry Effing Christmas to you all at Henley!