Was Jack Of Kent right to break an embargo on Conservative Party plans for human rights legislation?

The internet’s very own learned legal friend Jack Of Kent has caused a stir today by publishing detail about Conservative party strategy on human rights legislation that was embargoed.

The Mail’s Political Editor – James Chapman – was particularly vexed, calling it “pretty cheap” and “attention-seeking


Jack Of Kent’s argument is that he wants the proposals to be widely scrutinised. He didn’t receive the information in the capacity of being an employee of a media organisation – so why should he abide by the concept of an “embargo” he never agreed to uphold?

As I am an employee of a news organisation, our policy would be to sit on the story and document until the requested time.

But my personal opinion is that embargoes are an antiquated relic of print and broadcast media, and they have no place in a 24/7 digital news cycle.

I actually find the concept of embargoes anti-competitive.

If an interesting set of figures comes out at 3pm, then my lean, mean, digital Ampp3d team can have an analysis out very quickly. If the data is embargoed until 8am the next morning though, everyone gets 17 hours to work on it – negating our advantage of being quick.

Embargoes actually prevent news organisations really being able to measure if their digital production process is much faster or slower than their competitors.

And, ultimately, you are handling the scheduling of your news over to somebody else’s PR and Comms team.

Rather like Jack Of Kent, during periods when I’ve not been employed directly by a news organisation, I’ve often been sent press releases, data and documents on the hope that I’m going to blog about them. It always makes me laugh when I’m told they are “embargoed”.

I’ve never personally had anything that I felt strongly enough about to break the embargo – but I can totally understand why Jack Of Kent has today.

UpdatedJack Of Kent argues that the headline of this post is inaccurate. As he was not subject to an embargo, he cannot have broken it.