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Tony Grist

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Go, Sally, Go [Dec. 14th, 2012|09:40 am]
Tony Grist
I see Sally Berkow has hired Carter Ruck to fight her corner against Lord McAlpine. Good. That's excellent news. 

Did she libel him? She contends she didn't. What she did (and what many of us did in the madness of the moment) was point to a very large grey thing that was squatting in the middle of the room snuffling up peanuts with its long prehensile nose and ask, "Is that an elephant I see before me?"

The BBC and ITV were among those who asked that question but they both crumbled as soon as Lord M hiccoughed in their direction- which means it's left to a private individual (who doesn't have a large pot of other people's money to draw on to appease him) to test the matter in court.  Cheer her on, people, She's doing it for all of us who want the Internet to be about something other than "liking" Justin Bieber. 

[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2012-12-14 10:16 am (UTC)
The law -- in fact society in general -- is struggling to come to terms with social media at the moment. People often see it as being like chatting in the pub over a few drinks, but whilst it may be OK to speculate did he, didn't he? or was she, wasn't she? in a private conversation which will never go further than a few friends and certainly will never get back to the ears of the person being discussed, when you do that on Twitter, you can seriously damage a person's reputation. Lies genuinely have gone several times around the world these days before truth has got his boots on.

In Lord McAlpine's case, he's probably robust enough to withstand any false accusations -- though there are always those who mutter darkly, "There's no smoke without fire!" Is it right, just because you don't think they're a very nice person, to link someone to awful crimes if they didn't commit them? Also think what would happen if someone wasn't as mentally strong and/or had neighbours who decided to take the law into their own hands. We've just seen the terrible consequences of a "prank" that went wrong. Do we want that sort of thing to happen regularly?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-12-14 10:50 am (UTC)
But in this case the allegations about Lord M were ancient ones that had been published in a magazine and in a book and were widely available on the Net. They may well be libelous, but this has never been tested in a Court of Law- even though they have been current for over 20 years. The Tweeters etc were only drawing attention to material that already existed- unchallenged- in the public domain. Curiously Lord M still hasn't moved against his original accusers.

I see this as an issue of free speech. The British libel laws are notoriously oppressive.
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