Carter Ruck's Guardian gag prompts call for urgent Commons debate

Commons Speaker John Bercow faced a call for an urgent debate on press freedom today after a newspaper was gagged from reporting a Parliamentary question.

The Liberal Democrats asked him to bring Lord Chancellor Jack Straw before MPs to answer questions about what The Guardian called a “Kafka-esque” court order.

Despite a long-established tradition that reports of parliamentary proceedings are protected from legal action, the newspaper said it was not allowed to mention a question tabled by an MP for answer by a minister later this week.

It said it had been barred from reporting who the MP was, which minister would answer the question, where it might be found or even why the gagging order was in place.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg wrote on scoail networing site Twitter that he was “very interested” and “concerned” about the issue and would be taking action. He also named one of the companies involved, as have a number of other Twitter users.

The party’s parliamentary spokesman David Heath tabled an urgent request to the Speaker “to ask the Lord Chancellor if he will make a statement on the prevention of reporting of parliamentary proceedings by means of legal injunction”.

Lib Dem chief whip Paul Burstow also requested, under Commons standing orders, an urgent debate tomorrow on “the freedom to report on Parliamentary proceedings”.

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