Wednesday

Wednesday 12/02/03Graeme 'Scoop' Wearden, ZDNet's unwarrantedly boyish reporter and ball obsessive, has complained that he hasn't been seen in the diary of late. Fortunately for him, a legal matter has come up (rather than his frankly distasteful antics at industry parties, about which I shall say no more), and it's worth sharing.

Wednesday 12/02/03
Graeme 'Scoop' Wearden, ZDNet's unwarrantedly boyish reporter and ball obsessive, has complained that he hasn't been seen in the diary of late. Fortunately for him, a legal matter has come up (rather than his frankly distasteful antics at industry parties, about which I shall say no more), and it's worth sharing. The case was Freeserve taking Oftel to task over the way Oftel handled Freeserve's initial complaint about BT allowing its wholesale and retail broadband divisions to get too pally. In particular, Freeserve said that BT Openworld was given advance notice of a 40 percent price cut. Oftel initially said that this didn't happen, and Freeserve appealed. The case went to the Competition Commission Appeal Tribunals (CCAT) -- the UK's highest specialist competition law court. As part of the hearing, Oftel decided to show that Openworld had no advantage, by reading a story that young Wearden wrote at the time. In it, he said that Freeserve had announced its response to the price cuts before BT -- and so, said Oftel, it can't be the case that Openworld was primed and ready to go before the news broke. "That's as may be," said the judge, "but tell me, What is ZDNet?" The lawyer in charge of the defence looked mildly pained. "I have to admit, m'lud, that I have no very clear idea. I think it's a news Web site." Of course, Graeme is simultaneously thrilled that he's being used as evidence and rather miffed that the judge didn't respond with a "Really? Graeme Wearden said that? Well then. Case closed." I seek to mollify his hurt pride by explaining that when a famous judge comes out with "Exactly who are the Beatles?" or somesuch, it doesn't mean that he's unaware of facts which the meanest scrote in the street could be expected to have. Rather, it's a judicial device for getting an explanatory point read into the record, so that when future generations read the transcript some context is included to make the nature of the point of fact absolutely clear. I think this works, and Wearden is a happy bunny. God, man management, eh?

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