Iceland outlaws April Fools’ Day

The Reykjavik District Court yesterday ruled in favour of lawyers working for Iceland’s three largest collapsed banks in imposing a ban on the deliberate distribution of untrue news stories. The judge explained that following a spate of cases against the press, the line between truth and fiction is already too blurred.

In a highly unusual joint case, the three banks argued that press speculation has been hampering their resolution committees’ work since the beginning and serving to fuel uncertainty which is driving down the value of assets and making everybody in Iceland poorer as a direct result.

Although lawyers were careful to point out that the case was unrelated, the decision effectively means the end of April Fools’ Day when the Icelandic media very often like to plant trick stories to fool their readers. It was stated in court that April fun was not the intended target of the injunction claim. The timing of it, on the other hand, leave sceptics unimpressed — especially as several of last year’s most successful gags were about the banks.

Editors at DV and Frettabladid have independently said they intend to appeal the injunction; saying it is the first step towards gagging the press. Frettabladid editor Mikkael Reynisson said that while his paper would never deliberately lie, an element of speculation is essential in uncovering the truth.

People missing the fact that they may not get tricked this year will be pleased to know that there will be a light-hearted presentation on Icelandic April Fool’s Day gags from previous years at the IDA book shop on Laekjargata in Reykjavik at 11.30. A similar event is also taking place at the same time in the public libraries of Akureyri and Isafjordur.

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