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Road to Perdition

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In case anyone thinks that they can evade the consequences of their cyber-crimes by going on an endless tour of the M25, I'm afraid I've got bad news for you - the High Court decreed this week that writs could now be served via, you-guessed-it, Facetwat (sorry - Facebook)... so, if you do fancy your chances on, as Chris Rea put it, "The Road To Hell", then you'd better not take your 3G phone with you!

Joking aside, this week did also see the unveiling of, you-guessed-it (or, then again, maybe you didn't) actual coach tours of the M25 - yes really, with free hot beverages and bobble-hats optional. Among the "amazing sights" (their words, not mine) to be taken-in on this road to perdition are Clacket Lane services, South Mimms services, Heathrow's terminal five (Britain's largest building) and - wait-for-it - the cricket pitch at Bell Common tunnel... although, as you'll be in the tunnel at the time (enjoying the delights of tupperware lunches and chemical toilets), you won't actually be able to see the cricket pitch - however the 'tour' operators will, very thoughtfully, be passing-round photos of it on the coach!

Amazingly, the first such tour is already a sell-out and, when quizzed about who had actually paid Queen's currency to embark on this odyssey, the coach owner said that, in addition to the expected 'anoraks' and, err, 'coach enthusiasts', there was an unexpectedly high proportion of single women... SO, men - maybe this will spark-off a new trend, with dating and 'pick-up' coach trips around London's orbital beltway and chat-up lines like: "have you seen the size of my terminal?"

Then again, why don't we all just chip-in and pay to send the entire Board of RBS on an endless Road-To-Hell as, for them, perdition is far more appropriate than the massive 'bonuses' they keep paying themselves while the bank is still losing billions of taxpayers' money. Oh-yes, and the Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company saved the best bit for last - to add to the "excitement" (again, their words), they won't be telling their merry time-travellers whether each trip will be going clockwise or anti-clockwise... hold-me-back. Here's hoping their tyres will be more gripping than their marketing blurb!

Moving-back to our main story via the slip-road of life, Mr. Justice Teare ordered that a High Court writ could be served on an evasive defendant via social media, which follows a previous case in which Mr. Justice Lewinson allowed an injunction to be served through Twatter (sorry - Twitter).

Anyway, this is actually a more important development than might otherwise meet the eye, as this week also saw the publication of a report by the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research at the University of Bedfordshire and which revealed that up to five Million Britons are victims of cyberstalking and on-line harassment each year.

Even more worryingly, their survey revealed that the police are failing to cope with this new wave of cyber-crime - three quarters of all stalking and harassment cases now being internet related - with less than 1,000 sentences handed-down.

With the use of social media in the UK having doubled since 2010, these are alarming developments... moreover, stalkers and trolls are always 'brave' when they think that they can't be caught or identified, so this extension of the-long-arm-of-the-law into cyberspace is actually a welcome development, coupled to which it is also possible to subpoena Facebook and Twitter for the personal details relating to accounts that are being used for stalking and trolling... although, in both cases, these remedies are expensive and beyond the scope of The-Man-on-the-Clapham-Omnibus (or should that be the Brighton & Hove Omnibus?!), so let's also hope that Facebook and Twitter pull-their-socks-up and become more effective at policing themselves - instead of having to rely on organisations like Web Sheriff or government agencies like the FBI to do their job for them.

Talking of Facebook policing themselves, this week also witnessed a 'leak' of a different kind - this time the subject-matter of the leak being an internal Facebook document that provides guidelines for out-sourcing companies that apparently undertake much of the site's complaints reports. Allegedly using third world labour at $1 an hour, these guidelines bizarrely allow images of "deep flesh wounds" and "excessive blood" to be posted, while outlawing mothers breastfeeding!!

Facebook sought to limit the fallout from these revelations (excuse puns), by clarifying that images of mothers breastfeeding their infants could seemingly be posted, so long as there was no nipple visible - SO, in Facebook's parallel universe, someone's chest slashed open with a knife is okay, but a maternal nipple is morally corrupt. In protest at these unfathomable distinctions, groups of 'lactavists' protested outside Facemilk's offices in several cities, doubtless with leaks of their own, but all in a good cause.

No journalistic round-up of the week would be complete without a passing tribute to the estimable war correspondent Marie Colvin and her photo-journalist colleague Remi Ochlik, both of whom died at the hands of the Syrian Army in the battered city of Homs... their noble efforts - and their ultimate sacrifice - serve as a beacon and an inspiration to all who ply-their-trade in the media industry.

SO - there-we-have-it... High Jinx in the High Court and Facebook with milk on their faces... and, for anyone who simply wants to get-away from it all, just pack your picnic, don your duffle coat and head-down to the bus stop at Junction 7 of the M25 for the Magical Mystery Tour of your life ... seeing as it also takes-in Staines, the birthplace of British linoleum and Ali G, I may even join you !!