In an attempt to bully the Douglas and Glespin Community Council into keeping quiet about open cast, South Lanarkshire Council are threatening to take them to court and to completely cut their budget. The threats – in strongly worded letters to each member from Archie Strang, Council Chief Exec – came after a Mainshill liaison meeting, when the Community Council posted on its website an article from the Coal Action Scotland website “South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Coal Hand-in-Hand at Community LIE-aison Meeting” and this logo:
After Coal Action Scotland and Indymedia Scotland reposed the logo and article, they received similar threats. The issue started to attract attention, and after the support of high profile QC Jonathon Mitchel (who said: “my concern as a litigator is with the abuse of legal threats in an attempt to stifle criticism and satire. It is hard to think of a clearer example of fair use than the offending logo, or a clearer example of the use of threats of legal action as intimidation than South Lanarkshire’s letter.”) and press coverage, Archie backed down on almost everything but the logo, realising that their impossible legal threats had been exposed for the baseless bullying that they were.
The article complaint has now been reduced to squabbling over how prominent a disclaimer about third party content needs to be on a website – the Council say that it has to be on your home page, without having to navigate to find it or it doesn’t count .Hum, I wonder where the disclaimer on South Lanarkshire Council’s website is… here (the hypocrites).
Due to the strength of the community and solidarity from Coal Action Scotland and others that displayed the offending logo, it seems like the Council won’t dare follow through on its court threat. The Council has, however, succeeded expertly in making itself look very silly.