Defend David T


by Rumbold
19th March, 2010 at 1:17 pm    

David T of Harry’s Place is being sued by George Galloway and one of Mr. Galloway’s collegues, Kevin Ovenden. They are demanding £50,000 for a comment left on another blog. The comment he made wasn’t nice or correct, but as Richard Bartholomew put it:

The legal threat seems to me to be badly conceived. I’m sure that Galloway and Overden are against the anti-Jewish hadith in Hamas Covenant, but while it’s there anyone who meets a Hamas governmental official risks being tarnished by association. Blame Hamas for that. And of course it’s annoying when a political opponent extrapolates a supposedly logical chain from one’s activities or position to the conclusion that in some deeper “objective” sense one is in fact supporting something else, but that’s life and to be allowed to do it is essential to public debate.

A lot of people have a lot of criticisms to make of David T and Harry’s Place. Fine. However, it is irrelevant in this context. The comment was clearly a joke, and should in no way be the cause of a libel action. Bloggers are only able to operate because of a modicum of freedom of speech, and for every frivolous libel action we fail to stand against, our future as bloggers becomes that bit grimmer.


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149 Comments below   |  

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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: Defend David T http://bit.ly/d1NiuW


  2. Naomi McAuliffe

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: Defend David T http://bit.ly/d1NiuW #libelreform


  3. antonvowl

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: Defend David T http://bit.ly/d1NiuW


  4. Vanessa Furey

    This is turning into a chain tweet! RT @naomimc: RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: Defend David T http://bit.ly/d1NiuW #libelreform


  5. Raincoat Optimism

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » Defend David T http://bit.ly/dz5vYN


  6. Raincoat Optimism

    bet I wouldnt be the only person in the world to want u to do a little piece on this http://bit.ly/ckyFGk -make up for ur #wsitp no shows


  7. Raincoat Optimism

    @nickcohen2 bet I'm not the only person in the world 2 want 2 see u do a piece on this http://bit.ly/ckyFGk -make up for ur #wsitp no shows


  8. Mike Power

    I don't agree with suing bloggers but as for defending this guy, I wouldn't piss on David Toube if he was on fire. http://bit.ly/bud9Mq




  1. Carl — on 19th March, 2010 at 1:42 pm  

    This will be a fucking tragedy if this goes through, one thing after another Galloway becomes the biggest cunt on this earth (and that is not libelous).

  2. Chris Williams — on 19th March, 2010 at 1:54 pm  

    I’m torn on this one. Galloway’s a bastard, but then again so is David T, and perhaps the latter’s habit of accusing people of supporting terrorism could do with moderating.

    I think, though, that because I’m generally not in favour of throwing around libel writs, and because it was a mocking comment which clearly didn’t explicitly state that Viva Palestine supports terrorism, I will extend my grudging and critical support to David T. I hereby denounce GG and all his evil works. I condemn him utterly. That should do it.

  3. sarah — on 19th March, 2010 at 1:59 pm  

    good. David.T, for a long time, has smeared and impuned peoples reputation. Fuck him. If you act like a cunt then expect to get treated like a cunt.

  4. Hmmmm — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:04 pm  

    David Toube would, of course, be loudly and vigorously defending George Galloway were the positions reversed.

  5. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:12 pm  

    Private grief methinks!

  6. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:16 pm  

    The comment was clearly a joke, and should in no way be the cause of a libel action.

    When is he going to sue Channel 4 for this cruel joke?

  7. Carl — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:26 pm  

    Hmmmmm (comment 3)

    is that how morality is decided?

  8. Tim H — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:30 pm  

    Sarah’s assessment of David T is exactly right. Having said that, you can’t just level £50,000 libel fees from bloggers leaving idiotic comments – or indeed anyone, though I can see why one would want to draw blood from a national newspaper, given the lack of other effective means of redress.

    That itself, though, raises the question of whether Galloway shouldn’t have some other means of redress against such an outrageous smear, short of libel action. In this particular case, he could possibly get the comment withdrawn – but what about other cases? If the press needs some kind of independent regulatory oversight – which it does – why not the blogosphere?

  9. Cjcjc — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:47 pm  

    What is the “smear”?
    Galloway and his mate are proud Hamas supporters.
    And Hamas is a self-proclaimed anti-Semitic organisation.
    And designated a terrorist organisation by the EU.

  10. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:51 pm  

    Cjcjc,

    Well I suppose we could find out in court.

  11. masud — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:52 pm  

    Well said Sarah!
    David T has made a career out of smearing others and getting people sacked from their jobs for their opinions.
    Serves the hate-mongerer right!

  12. Brownie — on 19th March, 2010 at 2:58 pm  

    Well I suppose we could find out in court.

    Nope, because libel law in this country is a joke. Or, rather, it’s not a joke if you’re on the receiving end of it. Very often, all you discover as the result of a libel action is which party has the depeer pockets. Fairness and justice have very little to do with it.

    The commnet in question was left a Socialist Unity. If GG wanted the comment deleted, there’s no use protesting to DT. Andy Newman’s the guy. I’m not sure GG and his solicitors have thought through the implications for GG’s pal Newman given it is his blog the carries the supposedly defamatory comment.

  13. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:05 pm  

    Brownie,

    Lets get this straight. The comment was on Socialist Unity and not HP? But it was DavidT that left the comment?

    So legally DavidT would be able to slip away, and leave someone else to carry the can?

  14. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:06 pm  

    Rumbold, some of my posts aren’t getting through. One hasn’t appeared since yesterday (another thread). Anything you can do?

  15. DF — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:11 pm  

    “That itself, though, raises the question of whether Galloway shouldn’t have some other means of redress against such an outrageous smear, short of libel action.”

    Galloway has redress I would have thought. What has stopped him either replying to the comments or asking the moderators of the site which published the offending comments to remove them.

    I’m no expert on internet libel but I would have thought Galloway’s first response should have been to ask the author AND the publisher of the allegedly libelous comments to take them down. If both refused (assuming the author of the comment had the ability to remove his posts) then both the author and the publisher would be guilty of libel if found so by a court. As would any person and site that subsequently published the offending allegations.

    If Galloway didn’t ask the site owner who published the alleged libelous comments to delete them and allowed them to remain on the site in question for days/weeks I would have thought that would seriously weaken any claim he has made of being genuinely offended.

  16. douglas clark — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:15 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I’m pleased you have made this statement. The sooner libel law is reformed, the better.

    Talk about breaking butterflies on wheels!

  17. Sarah AB — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:16 pm  

    I agree with Rumbold – it was obviously a facetious remark and I think the most that should happen is that the comment should be taken down if GG is that sensitive.

  18. KB Player — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:27 pm  

    I’m no expert on internet libel but I would have thought Galloway’s first response should have been to ask the author AND the publisher of the allegedly libelous comments to take them down.

    Yes. If I saw an outrageously defamatory and untrue statement being made about me on a blog, I’d get in touch with the people running the blog in the first instance. This blog in question is in fact supportive of Galloway. So I would guess that Galloway is aggrieved at the criticism levelled at him at HP, and is using this to try and shut HP and David T up. He must have had a lot more worse insults and smears (and reasoned criticism) aimed at him over the years.

    You’d think someone as used to knockabout politics as GG is would not be as sensitive about jokes aimed at him on a blog.

  19. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:32 pm  

    The irony. DavidT could become the Moazzem Begg of the free speech on the internet lobby.

  20. bananabrain — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:41 pm  

    gosh, well, it’s nice to have something we can pretty much agree on for a change.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  21. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:42 pm  

    The irony. DavidT could become the Moazzem Begg of the free speech on the internet lobby.

    That’s really pushing it… :)

  22. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 3:54 pm  

    I’m no expert on internet libel but I would have thought Galloway’s first response should have been to ask the author AND the publisher of the allegedly libelous comments to take them down

    Well, the author is a commenter like you and me and I would think he is not able to remove his comments. So, all the responsibility for maintaining and moderating the content of the blog lies on the owners. I don’t see how Galloway has a case here.

    Quite frankly, somebody needs to explain why that comment is still available in that blog.

  23. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:01 pm  

    ‘That’s really pushing it…’

    Lets see. :)

  24. KB Player — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:03 pm  

    Actually, isn’t Dave Osler’s case of that ilk? It’s not about what Dave Osler said, it’s about what was said on his blog thread by someone else about a third person. (I’m too lazy to look it up). But it’s Dave Osler who is the one that is being sued.

  25. douglas clark — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:09 pm  

    Ravi Naik @ 19,

    Yes, especially if this has been added to the site. Which appears to be the case.

    http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=5423

    Strange weather lately?

  26. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:22 pm  

    Strange weather lately?

    Indeed. And I am actually wondering about Sunny’s face when he read the title of this post. :)

  27. damon — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:36 pm  

    I couldn’t be bothered with any defence of this man for things he says, since I heard about him in this story ….. in the Daily flipping Mail.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-560231/Public-pool-bars-father-son-Muslim-swimming-session.html

    Not that I think he should be sued or anything – but I’m not that fussed in this case.

  28. douglas clark — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:45 pm  

    Ravi Naik @ 23,

    Err.. Yes.

    It was a hot hot night in Saigon when our agent, codename Sunny, first became aware of the coup d’etat that had befallen his beloved homeland….

    :-)

  29. Random Guy — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:48 pm  

    For nearly any other blog than HP, I might have had some sympathy.

  30. earwicga — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:49 pm  

    Damon, what I want to know is how anybody can get to a swimming pool before 9.30am on a Sunday?!?

  31. douglas clark — on 19th March, 2010 at 4:58 pm  

    Random Guy,

    There are some principles, free expression being one of them, on which we sink or swim together.

    Incidentally, it is David T in a personal capacity that is being sued, not Harry’s Place. His comment on someone else’s blog is what has caused this. If this is successful it means that you or I are more at risk of this type of libel action. Given the ambulance chasing mentality of some in the legal profession.

    How often do you post a comment having given due care and attention to the legal ramifications of what you are saying?

    I try to be civil, but even that may not be enough….

  32. KB Player — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:04 pm  

    It was a hot hot night in Saigon when our agent, codename Sunny, first became aware of the coup d’etat that had befallen his beloved homeland….

    But Sunny was never in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. That was a ruse. He was here all the time, testing the loyalty of that mole Rumbold. You’re rumbled, Rumbold.

  33. Random Guy — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:06 pm  

    You are right of course Douglas. I am totally opposed to this if can create a legal precedent, but….etc.

  34. Sunny — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:06 pm  

    Yes. If I saw an outrageously defamatory and untrue statement being made about me on a blog, I’d get in touch with the people running the blog in the first instance.

    I agree – but unfortunately there are plenty of people who run for libel lawyers first and other recourse of action later.
    I think it’s pretty descicable GG has gone straight for lawyers instead of asking David T to defend, explain or withdraw the comment. As someone who’s also been the subject of similar action, my sympathies are with David T in this case. Libel law is a bastard.

  35. Sunny — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:09 pm  

    Oi!! I’ve got the sunburn from HCMC to prove it! I actually look brown for once!

    And Hanoi! Well, I just had about a kg of tofu in 24 hours since everything else they eat is meat or fish related… so my stomach can testify to being here!

    Anyway – before KB Player calls me a saddo again for posting comments, I’m going to stop. I do have postcards to write :P

  36. douglas clark — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:14 pm  

    KB Player,

    Rumbold kept looking over his shoulder. He had the feeling, call it tradecraft, that he was being followed. But there was no-one there. Only swirling fog and mist.

    When he returned to his cubicle in PP Towers, his monitor glowed eerily. His keyboard and his mouse had disappeared. Someone was sending him a message….

  37. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:15 pm  

    But DavidT is a trained lawyer.

    Posting allegedly false and defamatory comments on someone else’s blog might just get round the law (it seems), but why do it at all?

  38. Refresh — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:16 pm  

    ‘Someone was sending him a message….’

    Yes, please sort out the comment filter, so we can see what we wrote.

  39. Don — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:18 pm  

    British libel laws are so ridiculously plaintif friendly that anyone to runs to a lawyer before seeking other means of redress – especially in a trivial matter such as this – must come under suspicion of being motivated by petty malice and greed.

    The strength or otherwise of the case is barely relevant, the cost of defending is so high that it is often just a cowardly way of shutting up a critic.

  40. KB Player — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:18 pm  

    Oi!! I’ve got the sunburn from HCMC to prove it! I actually look brown for once!

    Huh! That old one! Tapping furiously from a tanning salon in Camden!

  41. Sunny — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:21 pm  

    If you see my tanning lines then you’ll agree that a tanning salon could never have done it :’(

  42. douglas clark — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:39 pm  

    Refresh @ 35,

    Yes. Bloody annoying isn’t it?

  43. KB Player — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:45 pm  

    Rumbold kept looking over his shoulder. He had the feeling, call it tradecraft, that he was being followed. But there was no-one there. Only swirling fog and mist.

    When he returned to his cubicle in PP Towers, his monitor glowed eerily. His keyboard and his mouse had disappeared. Someone was sending him a message….

    His mind, trained to spot every inconsistency, projected grainy CCTV footage of the streets he had passed through before arriving at PP Towers. He stiffened suddenly. That incongruity – a burqa’d figure coming out of a tanning salon – struck him anew.

  44. chairwoman — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:46 pm  

    “good. David.T, for a long time, has smeared and impuned peoples reputation. Fuck him. If you act like a cunt then expect to get treated like a cunt.”

    But it’s perfectly acceptable for you to anonymously hurl vile insults around the blogosphere?

    Not only a coward, but a foul mouthed one.

  45. MoreMediaNonsense — on 19th March, 2010 at 5:56 pm  

    The point is the blog where the comment resides (Socialist Unity) is Respect (and hence GG) supporting which is what makes this so bizarre. Surely they must have also received the letter as it demands the comment be deleted from SU !

    The only thing I can think is perhaps GG and/or his lawyers somehow don’t know that ? Otherwise what is going on is just crazy.

  46. Rumbold — on 19th March, 2010 at 6:03 pm  

    Hahaha Douglas, KB Player et al.

    Refresh:

    Sorry, not sure what has happened to the comments. The spam filter is clear. Apologies.

  47. douglas clark — on 19th March, 2010 at 6:43 pm  

    MoreMediaNonsense @ 45,

    Perhaps you’d like to check out the thread on SU again.

    It is called ‘Tower Hamlets Labour Councillor Defects to Tories’. It can be found here:

    http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=5317

    There is a post (27) timestamped 24th Feb 2010 at 3:01pm by someone calling themselves ‘Dirty Red Bandana’ who calls David T to account thusly:

    David T – why do you lie about translations of T-Shirt slogans? Does that mean we cannot rely on your judgement in any matter whatsoever?

    More rhetorical questions. Geddit?!

    However

    David T’s post (29) that first mentions translations (that still exists on the site) is timestamped 24th Feb 2010 at 3:26pm. It says, well you’ll need to go and look for yourself, for obvious reasons.

    The order of these posts looks wrong to me, or an earlier post by David T has been deleted.

    Not sure which it is to be honest…..

    It is, as you say, all quite bizarre.

  48. MoreMediaNonsense — on 19th March, 2010 at 6:54 pm  

    @47 – not sure what’s going on there, perhaps another DT post was deleted. Anyway I think the one that’s still there is the one GG is complaining about.

    Anyway that thread is still open, you can ask “Cardinal” Newman yourself. Good luck with that, last time I tried to raise the issue there I had comments deleted.

  49. Don — on 19th March, 2010 at 7:31 pm  

    A lot of the links aren’t working for me. Could someone clarify? David T is threatened with legal action for defaming who and how? Galloway?
    Viva Palestina? With what,implying association with Hamas or something else?

    I’m sure the details are out there, but I seem to be getting broken links.

    It’s hardly news that GG is chummy with Hamas. Or will that get me sued?

  50. Sarah AB — on 19th March, 2010 at 7:37 pm  

    Don – David T posted a facetious remark on the Socialist Unity blog suggesting (and yet pretty clearly not really suggesting) that an Arabic slogan on a Viva Palestina t shirt was a particularly offensive (and long – ie it couldn’t *really* have been the slogan) bit of the Hamas charter. I hope I’ve got that right. And I couldn’t possibly comment on the last point you raise ;-)

  51. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2010 at 8:00 pm  

    It’s hardly news that GG is chummy with Hamas. Or will that get me sued?

    Last year, Galloway held a press conference to announce he was giving lots of money and cars to Hamas with the excuse that they are government, and defied the British government to sue him for that. This of course has nothing to do with helping the Palestinian people (you can donate quietly to charities and NGOs), but for shameless self-promotion and provocation – which is clearly designed to attract the sort of comment David T made.

  52. MoreMediaNonsense — on 19th March, 2010 at 8:38 pm  

    Just found this – http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=3133

    “LIBEL AND THE WORLD OF BLOGGING”

    where Newman is standing with David T in supporting Dave Osler and co against a libel action.

    See especially here from Newman :

    “There has been some good news on this recently, that comments on a blog should be treated as slander not libel – which is much harder to prove. http://www.simkins.co.uk/ebulletins/lerSlandernotLibel.aspx

    But the type of blog that Dave Osler, David T and I run would all be regarded as on-line journalism – and the main articles would be subject to libel law.”

    What is going on ?

  53. Abu Faris — on 19th March, 2010 at 10:40 pm  

    Ravi Naik @51:

    “[M]edical and other specialist staff needing to travel to Gaza should coordinate their entry to Gaza with the major international humanitarian organisations already on the ground. Our Embassy in Tel Aviv and our Consulate-General in Jerusalem have also similarly advised those wishing to deliver humanitarian assistance to Gaza to do so through existing humanitarian organisations, which can advise, particularly with regards to medicines, on which items if any are currently required.”

    Ivan Lewis, FCO, in a letter to George Galloway, 17/6/09

    Advice ignored by George; but, oddly, published on his website all the same.

  54. FlyingRodent — on 20th March, 2010 at 2:01 am  

    The idea that you can be sued for 50k for a blog comment is totally abhorrent and I’m certain this case will be laughed out of court, in the very unlikely event it ever comes to that.

    Those who know me will know that I have no objections to people smeared by the likes of HP taking off and nuking the site from orbit, but this case is utter horseshit from start to finish. It’s idiotic, opportunistic, ludicrous bullshit.

    I realise this isn’t a terribly constructive comment in the fostering debate sense, but it has the basic merit of being true.

  55. Andrew — on 20th March, 2010 at 4:12 am  

    A few months ago, Craig Murray was threatened with a libel action by the Quilliam Foundation. David could take note of how Craig dealt with it – he faced QF down and they backed off. David T could try the same tactic.

  56. KB Player — on 20th March, 2010 at 8:45 am  

    Message from the Libel Reform Campaign:-

    We need you to come to the Houses of Parliament next Tuesday, 23 March, for a mass meeting with MPs to convince them to commit to libel reform.

    The Libel Reform Campaign has booked Committee Room 15 at Parliament, and MPs know that we’re coming. Please, if you can, come and join us. Simon Singh will be joining us to tell MPs about the real effect of our libel laws.

    The political parties are on the verge of signing up to once in a generation reform of our libel laws. But we don’t have them signed up yet. This is our last chance to lobby parliamentarians before the general election.

    So here’s the plan:

    Mass lobby of Parliament

    2 – 3pm

    We’re trying to get as many campaign champions, press and MPs along as possible for a meeting 2-3 pm in Committee Room 15. You can come to this even if you don’t have an MP appointment. If you can, let us know you are coming by emailing us: news@libelreform.org

    3 – 4pm

    You can email your MP and ask them to meet you between 3 – 4 pm in Central Lobby. Even if your MP has signed the EDM on libel reform it is still worth doing this.

    http://www.libelreform.org/

  57. BenSix — on 20th March, 2010 at 3:46 pm  

    I thought SU shunting up an anti-David T post was quite unsavoury. Remember the scrawny kid who’d follow his bigger mates around the schoolyard – adding a nasal “yeeeeaah” to every dispute.

  58. Shatterface — on 20th March, 2010 at 11:58 pm  

    ‘Posting false and defamatory comments on someone else’s blog might just get round the law (it seems), but why do it at all?’

    Because, given the obvious discrepancy between the length of the actual t-shirt slogan and Toube’s ‘translation’ only someone willfully fuck-witted could possibly miss the fact it was a fucking joke?

  59. Voltaire's Priest — on 21st March, 2010 at 8:06 am  

    BenSix – lol, precisely!

    Actually it’s Ovenden who surprises me here. There’s a long tradition on the Marxist left of not resorting to “the bourgeois courts” unless absolutely necessary. Has he come so far since his days in the SWP that he’s now willing to tail-end Galloway’s ATM litigation?

  60. Refresh — on 21st March, 2010 at 9:14 am  

    Shatterface,

    it might all rest on whether he was joking or baiting.

    Who knows?

  61. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 10:07 am  

    Refresh @ 60,

    It shouldn’t rest on that at all. This is yet another example of someone with money using libel laws to stifle dissent. Christ, how empowered do you want rich folk to be! The more of this we see, the less free you will be to express yourself.

  62. Refresh — on 21st March, 2010 at 6:48 pm  

    Douglas Clark,

    I think baiting becomes a problem when its consistent and part of a campaign.

    As for wealthy taking on the impoverished I would agree with you – perhaps there is a need for change in legal aid regulations amongst other things.

    I think the defenceless should be given greater powers, and when it comes to blogs there is a unique problem. The old adage that a lie can be half way around the world before the truth gets its boots on is probably more relevant than ever.

    To my thinking that suggests greater care needs to be taken with comments and blogs, as a lie could travel many many times around the world before the potential plaintiff even hears about it.

    For blogging and online activity in general there needs to be a greater restraint.

    When it comes to newspapers, some of them are an absolute shower and their concept of self-regulation is a joke. They know this and use it to their best advantage, commercial and political. Self-regulation (or restraint if you prefer) is far more important on the web if we are to develop this medium in the best interest of the masses.

  63. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 7:33 pm  

    Refresh,

    I think you are right about the old adage. I agree with you about that.

    Where I disagree is in the use of libel law as a method of dispute resolution in a digital age. Perhaps in the most egregious of cases, but certainly not as a first resort.

    David T’s comment was satirical. And satire is supposed to hurt it’s target.

    As we are swapping quotes:

    I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

    Voltaire, I do believe.

  64. Chris Williams — on 21st March, 2010 at 7:46 pm  

    Re the ‘don’t cry libel against other leftists’ norm, I think that it’s pretty clear that David T is on the right, not the left.

  65. KB Player — on 21st March, 2010 at 8:35 pm  

    Gosh, if everyone was suing everybody else on blogs, I’m sure I’ve been called an anti-Semite in one place and a paid pro-Zionist in another. Where’s my lawyer? We all know what abuse and insults and jokes are worth on a blog.

    One thing about blogging is that you can trace the course of a lie pretty easily and find out its source. Look at the recent Tonge case for instance. She was getting her information about supposed Israelis harvesting organs in Haiti from a video on YouTube! and of course anyone who knew anything about YouTube and blogging realised how reliable a source that is. Anyone who reads comments on blogs and takes them as truth is an idiot.

  66. KB Player — on 21st March, 2010 at 8:42 pm  

    As for “baiting being a problem”, Harry’s Place spends a lot of time baiting Lee Barnes, successfully as they often get a rise out of him. Is that a problem? Or is it only baiting people whose politics you agree with that is a problem?

  67. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 9:17 pm  

    Chris Williams,

    The meme is ‘don’t cry libel against other bloggers.’

    With the added caveat ‘and certainly not against poor bloody commentators’.

    It is not about whether they are right or left.

    It is about freedom of speech.

    By the way, I am in awe of your blog. Bloody brilliant so it is.

  68. masud — on 21st March, 2010 at 9:44 pm  

    damon
    “I couldn’t be bothered with any defence of this man for things he says, since I heard about him in this story ….. in the Daily flipping Mail.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-560231/Public-pool-bars-father-son-Muslim-swimming-session.html

    You forgot to mention his breaking into a meeting to publically harangue Moazzem Begg for daring to fight against the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia, not to mention hundreds of articles bashing Muslims.

    To say he has form is something of an understatement.

  69. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 10:23 pm  

    masud,

    Whilst I have completely agreed with you on another thread, what you have to say here is not to the point.

    David T has opinions I do not agree with, and surely vice versa. No doubt I have opinions you do not agree with. Perhaps you have opinions I do not agree with.

    It is about your freedom of speech, as much as his, as much as mine.

    His ‘form’ is neither here nor there.

    The principle to be able to say what you want to is very important.

    Least, that’s what I think….

    Usual caveats apply: obviously.

    But they are not at all obvious in this case…

    It just looks like money after more money to me. Resorting to libel is the last defence of the reprobate, imho.

  70. Refresh — on 21st March, 2010 at 11:58 pm  

    KBPlayer,

    It doesn’t matter whether we agree politically. I fully understood the nature of the politics when he launched the campaign against the swimming pool.

    When baiting it makes sense to be on firm ground and not give your opponent the advantage.

    I like your point about traceability. Perhaps in the case of bloggers and commenters an apology and a retraction should be the going rate. The retraction should be as prominent and as widely distributed as the original calumny. The cost of that distribution to be borne by the ‘defence’.

    Douglas Clark,

    I like Voltaire, but I am sure he didn’t oppose making people squirm. :)

    For what its worth, the underlying issue is far more important, as Ban Ki Moon rightly highlighted today when visiting Gaza. Lets not lose sight of that.

  71. douglas clark — on 22nd March, 2010 at 3:02 am  

    Refresh,

    I am sure you meant to say:

    I like Voltaire, and I am sure he didn’t oppose making people squirm. ;-)

    You also go on to say:

    For what its worth, the underlying issue is far more important, as Ban Ki Moon rightly highlighted today when visiting Gaza. Lets not lose sight of that.

    Enlighten me. What did Ban Ki Moon have to say? That had anything whatsoever to do with your freedom of speech, or that of David T’s, or mine? What did the leader of the UN have to say about that?

    “I completely defer to UK libel laws. It is not for me to challenge the right of UK citizens with lots of money to challenge their lesser beings. That is a reasonable form of equalty,and the UN stands compltely behind it.

    After all. I just lurve and respect the gorgeous one,”

    Or not, Refresh.

    Refresh, are you, perhaps a member of a political party allied to Mr George Galloway?

    I tend to remember your hero driving an open topped Mercedes along Dumbarton Road, looking like the cat that had got the cream.

    I was a barrow boy, delivering messages. And he was a cunt in a Mercedes Benz. Nothing much has changed.

  72. douglas clark — on 22nd March, 2010 at 3:09 am  
  73. douglas clark — on 22nd March, 2010 at 3:22 am  

    Refresh,

    Brave woman,wouldn’t you say?

    Janis Joplin that is.

    Not the compltete other tit that the gorgeous one is?

    You’ve got to lurve UK libel laws, don’t you just..

    Well fuck you George Galloway. I think you are are a cunt, so sue me…

  74. Sarah AB — on 22nd March, 2010 at 7:04 am  

    @kb player at 65 – “I’m sure I’ve been called an anti-Semite in one place and a paid pro-Zionist in another.”

    I’ve been called a ‘Germanist’ (as in Lindsey of course)and an ‘apologist for US backed evil’ on HP (on different threads, admittedly, but it was confusing!)

  75. douglas clark — on 22nd March, 2010 at 8:03 am  

    Sarah AB,

    And I’ve been called out by Lee John Barnes as an ‘enemy of the people’, who will be “picked up” when the BNP march to victory.

    Fuck them and their fascist dreams…

  76. Refresh — on 22nd March, 2010 at 9:32 am  

    Douglas Clark,

    Ban Ki Moon refers to the three year blockade on Gaza. If I am not mistaken, DavidT wishes there was no attempt to break that blockade. That is what I refer to.

    Thousands of houses destroyed by the bombardment of two years ago remain unbuilt. Even simple materials like cement is not being allowed in.

    It is DavidT who rails against Viva Palestine because they took the practical step of trying to get aid in and turn it into a campaign highighting the situation.

    As just one example BBC News reports that 1Kg of meat costs $15, and it has to be smuggled in through tunnels. That is more than what you would pay for organic meat from your local Tesco. And it takes the UN General Secretary to get it into the headlines.

    DavidT has no interest in free speech, only in his own goal of delegitimising anyone who might speak up for the Palestinians.

    I happily support DavidT’s right to offer a cogent and reasonable argument, but not one which is full of innuendo and whispers.

  77. Brownie — on 22nd March, 2010 at 11:14 am  

    Re the ‘don’t cry libel against other leftists’ norm, I think that it’s pretty clear that David T is on the right, not the left.

    Yeah, and that thing at the bottom of your back and top of your legs is your arse, not your elbow.

  78. douglas clark — on 22nd March, 2010 at 12:45 pm  

    Brownie,

    Why don’t you just fuck off?

    You have never added anything to a discussion here. And your latest shit @ 77 is as likely to turn folk against a good cause as not.

    You are a complete, utter wanker…

    So, sue me!

    I shall use the ‘reasonable comment’ defence.

    Now piss off….

  79. Chris Williams — on 22nd March, 2010 at 4:59 pm  

    Douglas #67, it’s not my blog – sorry, I just put that link in to the Rodent’s blog because I like it so much. I’ve taken it off now so as not to mislead anyone else.

    There are two separate norms going on here – the very old ‘lefties don’t sue other lefties’ tradition and a newer ‘bloggers don’t sue other bloggers’ one. As I wrote above, DT is on the right, so the former doesn’t apply. Nor is GG a blogger, so the latter doesn’t either. We need therefore to consider the case on its merits.

    As it happens, I don’t think that blogs and blog comments ought to be free fire zones where libellous allegations can be thrown around without fear of the consequences, but under the precise circumstances of this one, I think that Galloway is not justified in issuing a writ. I’d love to see HP kicked in the teeth for the nasty stuff that they’ve done, but I’m trying not to let my hatred of them blind me to the rights and wrongs of this case.

    So my line remains – support David T this time round, but look forward to the day when someone cleans him out in a richly deserved manner.

  80. Brownie — on 22nd March, 2010 at 10:19 pm  

    I see you’ve been reading your Milton again, Dougie.

  81. earwicga — on 7th April, 2010 at 12:57 am  

    Many readers will be aware that George Galloway and Kevin Ovenden are each seeking redress from David Toube of Harry’s Place for a libellous comment made by David on this blog back in December.

    Last Wednesday I received a letter from Mr Toube’s solicitors saying that should either or both of these libel actions proceed then David Toube will seek to join me as a third-party (part 20) defendant and will seek full indemnity from me in respect of all costs and other liabilities that Mr Toube incurs under the Civil Liability (contribution) Act 1978.

    In essence, despite all his huffing and puffing about free speech, David Toube has the chutzpah to publish comments on this blog, and then when faced with the consequences, is seeking to hold me legally responsible for his own actions.

    In fact I do consider that the comment made by David T was libellous, and I sought to mitigate that libel by refuting the inaccurate content in subsequent comments on the same thread. This blog does not operate pre-publication moderation, so David Toube’ comment appeared and was read by hundreds of people without any participation whatsoever by the administraors of Socialist Unity blog.

    If David Toube’s legal argument is successful, it will mean the end of blogging as we know it, as the burden of responsibility for libel will be shifted to the registered proprietors of blogs, and people posting libellous comments will seek to hide behind the blog owners to avoid legal responsibility.

    http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=5536

  82. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 1:11 am  

    earwicga,

    Blog owners are responsible for comments published on their blogs. That *is* the legal position. It’s not DT’s “argument”, rather the present legal reality.

    When Galloway’s lawyers demanded DT remove a “libellous” comment against their client, they were asking something that was not within the gift of DT. Socialist Unity is not his blog.

    They didn’t ask Andy to remove the comment – which he could at any time – because GG/Ovenden/Newman are political allies. Andy obviously thought it would be a hoot to keep the comment in place. He’s now discovering that there is a price attached to this ‘hoot’.

    Life’s a fucking bitch, eh?

    Blogging is threatened because there are malicious people out there ready and willing to exploit this country’s absurb libel law. If Andy is genuinely upset about this, I can give him the Respect Party address. Excecpt he already has that, doesn’t he?

  83. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 1:32 am  

    They didn’t ask Andy to remove the comment – which he could at any time – because GG/Ovenden/Newman are political allies. Andy obviously thought it would be a hoot to keep the comment in place. He’s now discovering that there is a price attached to this ‘hoot’.

    This really is stupid reasoning. Regardless of whether Andy kept the comment or not on his blog – the comment was made by David T and he should stand by it or not. Instead he’s trying to make the blog owner responsible – which means some twat could leave a comment here while I’m away and another could sue me for hosting it.

  84. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 2:16 am  

    Instead he’s trying to make the blog owner responsible – which means some twat could leave a comment here while I’m away and another could sue me for hosting it.

    Jaysus, Sunny, that *IS* the law. Right now. As it stands. DT is *NOT* making it the law. You run the risk of someone committing libel in your comments boxes every freakin’ day and YOU are responsible for it. Didn’t you know?

    We are libelled on our blog every day by commenters who accuse us of anti-Muslim bigotry. I’d say you’ve come close to this yourself (not just in observations about some of the commenters, but accusations against the writers themselves). But there never has been a libel case brought by an author of HP and I’d wager there never will be…which is partly why we are libelled as routinely as we are. But there’s a difference between launching a libel action and using the existing libel law to defend oneself when you’re the target of such action.

    One arm of Respect is engaged in libel action because they don’t like what others are saying about them. Unless you’re volunteering to pay DT’s mortgage for him, I’m not sure where you get off telling DT what he ought to do to defend himself against this? His defence is simply about ensuring that Respect can’t hurt him without hurting one of their own. Presumably, they won’t do that and this sorry farce can be dropped. The alternative is to allow himself to become a martyr to existing libel law so he can avoid the scorn of idiots who type the sort of shite you have in your latest post.

    If Respect want to play the libel game, they should learn the rules first.

    FWIW, I haven’t spoken to DT about any of this and he certainly isn’t aware of my intervention here. My comments are my own, whoever I am.

  85. Ravi Naik — on 7th April, 2010 at 2:16 am  

    Sunny, let me get this straight – you believe that a blog which uses an anonymous comment system in which you can’t trace or verify the identity of the commenters (like PP or Andy’s blog), that the owner is not responsible for its content?

    When you add to the fact that the commenter is unable to remove its comments, it seems silly to me to sue the commenter. Galloway should have asked Andy to remove the comment in the first place. If Andy refused, then Galloway could sue his blog.

  86. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 2:33 am  

    you believe that a blog which uses an anonymous comment system in which you can’t trace or verify the identity of the commenters (like PP or Andy’s blog), that the owner is not responsible for its content?

    My point is that even if the blog owner is not implicated in what happens – they could get sued anyway.
    for example – one of our commenters kept leaving lots of libellous comments here about east London politics. Assume that it was obvious who that was (which, in this case is possible) and someone decided to sue him without me knowing. Now, I can’t verify all the contents of whoever left the comment here, and I left it up.

    Now what if the guy being sued, who left the comments on PP, decides I should pay for his costs? Is that fair on me? Like fuck that’s fair!

    I had a legal letter representing Douglas Murray – and they didn’t even bother asking me to take down the comment they felt was libellous first. They wanted it off and they wanted costs straight away. That is the law as it stands. They can do that.

    And yet you folks are saying its right that I pay out for comments left by someone on this blog… because they didn’t want to take responsibility for their own comments? Absurd.

  87. Katy Newton — on 7th April, 2010 at 2:49 am  

    Now what if the guy being sued, who left the comments on PP, decides I should pay for his costs? Is that fair on me? Like fuck that’s fair!

    It wouldn’t happen to you, because the person who was libelled would write to you and say “One of your commenters has left a defamatory comment on your website and I want you to take it down and [possibly] write a clarification”. And if that happened, you would do it, as you have in the past, because you know the law and you know that the law says you are jointly responsible for defamatory content written by a third party if you leave it on your blog once you have been notified that it is potentially defamatory. That’s the point.

  88. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 2:54 am  

    because the person who was libelled would write to you and say “One of your commenters has left a defamatory comment on your website and I want you to take it down and [possibly] write a clarification”.

    And I’m saying the person being libelled doesn’t necessarily need the content to be taken down before making demands for costs. They only have to point out that loads of people read it. So the person being sued could still be the subject of a libel suit… and what if they then decided to include me in the court case?

  89. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 3:04 am  

    What’s spectacularly naiive in Andy’s new post is his admission that he considered DT’s comment libellous – a comment he acknowledges seeing and failed to delete.

    It’s an admission of responsibility for publishing and continuing to host what he himself concludes is a libellous comment. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m going out on a limb to say that was probably a baaaaad move.

    Sunny, isn’t the current libel law a right clusterfuck? The question is, if you said something allegedly libellous on a BNP-supporting site and the BNP came after you, would you look to co-opt the site owner who failed to delete the comment (and thereby exacerbated the alleged libel) as a co-defendant, or would you martyr yourself and your family, possibly your house and your job on the altar of free speech?

    Enquiring minds would like to know…

  90. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 3:12 am  

    And I’m saying the person being libelled doesn’t necessarily need the content to be taken down before making demands for costs.

    Belive me, Sunny, any judge would want to know why the plaintiff hadn’t asked for the comment to be deleted. The damages sought in any libel case are supposed to refelct the harm done to reputation. If you don’t ask for the comment to be removed, it’s difficult to argue that you are worried about how said comment damages your reputation. You’re not supposed to *want* as many people as possible to read the allegedly libellous material.

    So the person being sued could still be the subject of a libel suit… and what if they then decided to include me in the court case?

    In the extremely unlikely event that you hadn’t been asked to remove the comment, it would strengthen your defence of the fact that you hadn’t. But if you had been so asked and/or if it could be shown that you had reason to believe the comment was libellous but didn’t take any steps to remove it, you’d be on less certain ground.

  91. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 3:24 am  

    Enquiring minds would like to know…

    Enquiring minds?? Stupid minds more like.
    First, I try and avoid making allegations I can’t back up – and I’ve got experience with lawyers to hammer that into me. Secondly, I’m more threatened with stupid mofos leaving comments on my blogs and me getting dragged into that than some idiotic BNP scenario you’ve cooked up. Hence I’ve got a reason to be annoyed at this turn of affairs. Don’t try and turn this around.

    Belive me, Sunny, any judge would want to know why the plaintiff hadn’t asked for the comment to be deleted.

    I’m sorry, am I meant to take your esteemed legal advice seriously am I? How about you keep that to yourself and don’t bother my time with it?
    It’s dangerous and expensive enough getting to the judge stage and frankly someone would be pretty stupid to try it. It would incur big costs without any guarantee you’d get your money back.

    What I’m saying is – a comment doesn’t have to be deleted before costs can be demanded. FACT. And so I can get dragged into other people’s vendettas. That is not a welcome prospect. Comprende?

    If you don’t ask for the comment to be removed, it’s difficult to argue that you are worried about how said comment damages your reputation. You’re not supposed to *want* as many people as possible to read the allegedly libellous material.

    No, but the person could argue that the comment was read by loads of people and thus their reputation had already been damaged. Who wants to take it to a judge to test that out?
    I hope you’re not in the business of dishing out legal advice.

  92. Cjcjc — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:19 am  

    Amusing that Sunny cross-posted his pal Tom Watson’s pathetic defence of his scuppering the proposed changes to the libel laws on LC a few days ago.

    Andy Newman deliberately kept a post up I assume because he thought only DT would get into trouble.
    Just desserts.

  93. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 9:59 am  

    It’s dangerous and expensive enough getting to the judge stage and frankly someone would be pretty stupid to try it. It would incur big costs without any guarantee you’d get your money back.

    Sunny, an awful lot of malicious libel cases are brought by plaintiffs on a no win no fee basis. This is the essence of the problem: it can cost nothing to bring a libel case, but it always costs money to defend one, no matter the strength of your defence.

    No, Sunny, I’m not a lawyer, but you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the winds blows, and all that. Of course a claimant can bring a case before a comment is deleted, but the most obvious way to mitigate damage to reputation is to have a comment deleted. The point in this case is that a request to delete the alelgedly libellous comment was made, but not to the one person with power to accommodate that request.

    I also knew that blog owners are responsible for the comments they publish, something you clearly didn’t based on your contributions to this thread. Don’t assume that everyone is as ignorant as you are.

  94. Paul Moloney — on 7th April, 2010 at 10:17 am  

    If George Galloway is so upset at the comment posted on a blog of “an old friend of his”, why did he not ask for the comment to be removed?

    If Andy, “an old friend of” Galloway’s, thought the comment was libellous, why did he not remove it immediately?

    P.

  95. Go Quango Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 12:10 pm  

    Sunny, you should be careful. You’ve made several libellous comments about Harry’s Place – don’t give anyone a reason to come after you!

  96. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 2:56 pm  

    Amusing that Sunny cross-posted his pal Tom Watson’s pathetic defence of his scuppering the proposed changes to the libel laws on LC a few days ago.

    It’s called having a debate. We published a response to that too. If you don’t like – go read something else.

  97. Rumbold — on 7th April, 2010 at 3:52 pm  

    Sunny:

    Surely this is only a tactical ploy by David T in order to get Socialist Unity to delete the comment? If a person on PP left a comment that someone else threatened to sue said person for, and I knew about it but left it up so they got sued, I would not deserve any sympathy.

  98. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 4:02 pm  

    Surely this is only a tactical ploy by David T in order to get Socialist Unity to delete the comment?

    Well, not only is that vindictive, but it also sets a precedent in law – which is the main problem for bloggers. David T knows this. Presumably he doesn’t care.

  99. Rumbold — on 7th April, 2010 at 4:07 pm  

    If I was being sued I would be tempted to strike back at the helper of the person who was suing me (and no one can deny that by leaving the comment up despite requests by David T for deletion Andy Newhman is assisting George Galloway) if it would reduce my chances of being sued successfully.

  100. Ravi Naik — on 7th April, 2010 at 4:45 pm  

    Sunny, is there any circumstance in which you would not delete a comment on someone’s request if the comment was considered libellous and the commenter was being sued?

    You are complaining about your role as the owner of a blog and how that affects you. But the situation as it exists now is deeply unfair to commenters if blog owners behave like Andy: there is no protection to them as they are unable to delete comments.

  101. cjcjc — on 7th April, 2010 at 4:48 pm  

    The charming Newman clearly thought it was funny to leave it up there. Poor baby.
    Still, maybe his friend George G or possibly the Iranian government could chip in?
    He’s been terribly loyal to them after all.

  102. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:10 pm  

    I love how people who have little experience with the law or libel letters are offering advice on something they know little about.

    They would only be likely to be successfully sued if they left up material which they knew or considered to be libellous

    No – they can still argue that people read it and therefore their reputation has already been damaged. If you want to contest that with a judge – fine. But if you lose there will be a hell of a lot of money to pay.

    You are complaining about your role as the owner of a blog and how that affects you.

    Yes, that is my concern here, remarkably enough.

    But the situation as it exists now is deeply unfair to commenters if blog owners behave like Andy: there is no protection to them as they are unable to delete comments.

    Then they should stop fucking making comments they can’t back up.

    Am I meant to be more sorry for people who can’t delete their own comments on other blogs, than blog owners who might get caught in the crossfire?

    Some of the reasoning written here is getting more absurd by the minute.

  103. Paul Moloney — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:11 pm  

    HP Derangement Syndrome let’s Sunny down again. Pity.

    P.

  104. Refresh — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:13 pm  

    I suspect, if it gets to court, the issue will not be this one comment; but establishing intent over a period of time and series of comments and contributions.

    In that context there will be plenty to play for.

  105. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:16 pm  

    Paul – please don’t try and pretend to be a neutral observer.

    If the shoe was on the other foot you guys would be howling like mad. There are plenty of nutters who leave comments on HP. Imagine one of those wanted David T to pay for his costs if he got sued.
    There would be howls of outrage over the ‘threat to free speech’ yada yada.

    Except now, the best people can come up with is some limp references to the Iranian govt – which has fuck all to do with the issue at stake. Frankly – it’s long been obvious that some of this hyper-partisanship has gone to your heads and all sense of balance was lost ages ago.

  106. Mark T — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:25 pm  

    If the shoe was on the other foot you guys would be howling like mad. There are plenty of nutters who leave comments on HP. Imagine one of those wanted David T to pay for his costs if he got sued.

    This is not a fair comparison at all, because you have left out the most relevant detail.

    The only reason Newman has been dragged into this is that David T’s comment is still (even now!) on Newman’s site – despite he himself stating that he considers it libellous.

    The mere fact that a potentially libellous comment was posted on a blog is neither here nor there – it is Newman’s active refusal to remove it that is at issue.

    Why has Newman not taken the comment down? What is he playing at?

  107. earwicga — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:32 pm  

    Mark T – has any of the interested parties asked for the comment to be removed?

  108. Mark T — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:42 pm  

    I don’t know. There are, of course, two possibilities.

    If Galloway has asked for it to be removed, it’s perverse for Newman to leave it up, and then whine about the consequences.

    If Galloway hasn’t asked for it to be removed, then equally it’s a little perverse for him to be launching a case for libel without doing so, is it not? I mean, if you want what you consider unpleasant lies about you to be retracted, the first step must surely be the removal of the lie from the public domain?

    Either Galloway or Newman (or indeed both) have cocked up here.

  109. Refresh — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:44 pm  

    ‘has any of the interested parties asked for the comment to be removed?’

    Excellent question that deserves a straight answer. Has DavidT requested it?

  110. Don — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:49 pm  

    Pretty often on PP people have dragged their personal feuds into view and made potentially libellous comments. There has been a consistent policy by Sunny and the mods of deleting them and saying very clearly that they won’t tolerate that.

    To retain a comment which you have yourself described as libellous and then continue to draw attention to it is hard to see as anything other than malicious.

    If Newman’s motive really is no more than a desire to stick it to David T and help Galloway then I’d say David T has every right to defend himself using the law as it stands.

    But we really need to get this libel law sorted out. It’s a bloody disgrace as it is.

  111. Paul Moloney — on 7th April, 2010 at 5:54 pm  

    “There are plenty of nutters who leave comments on HP. Imagine one of those wanted David T to pay for his costs if he got sued.”

    If the head of a political party that David was a high-ranking member of sued a HP commenter over to a “libellous” joke that David refused to remove, I’d have the exact reaction.

    P.

  112. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:06 pm  

    If the head of a political party that David was a high-ranking member of sued a HP commenter over to a “libellous” joke that David refused to remove, I’d have the exact reaction.

    whether you’re a high ranking party head matters not one jot. If I decided to sue someone on HP for making libellous comments about me – which are frankly dime a dozen – and then dragged all of HP writers into it, frankly I doubt it.

    Furthermore, I don’t know where this point about someone ‘refusing’ to delete the comment has come up and being used as a stick. Even if Andy Newman refused to delete the comment, which hasn’t been mentioned anywhere, people can sue even if the comment is quickly deleted. They can still argue in front of a judge that plenty of people read it and the damage has been done.

    All you’re trying to do is obfuscate the point I’m making about costs and precedent with some hyper-partisan mudslinging.

  113. Mark T — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:14 pm  

    I don’t know where this point about someone ‘refusing’ to delete the comment has come up and being used as a stick.

    A) There’s no need to put ‘refusing’ in inverted commas. Newman can delete – and has deleted – comments he considers to be libellous from SU.

    B) If he had deleted it, there is no way David T could credibly ask for Newman to join him as a third party defendant. That’s why.

    Newman is hosting, and continues to host, a comment he has stated is libellous.

  114. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:21 pm  

    I’m sure you know the difference between having the ability to delete something and refusing to.

    And secondly, as I said above, it doesn’t make much difference to the point I’m making.

    But apparently I shouldn’t be too concerned because I might leave libellous comments on BNP websites!

  115. Paul Moloney — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:26 pm  

    I barely comment at HP these days mainly because I can’t stand many of the commenters and because I mostly disgree with the line the blog takes, and the only email I’ve ever sent to David T was to complain about the direction of the blog.

    But, I’m “hyper-partisan” because I ask two obvious questions about the situation that have so far remain unanswered.

    If someone libelled me on a friend’s blog, the _first_ thing I would do would be to get the friend to remove it. And frankly I’d be amazed if someone I regard as a friend didn’t remove it, especially if they already have a policy to delete libellous comments.
    P.

  116. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:31 pm  

    Then they should stop fucking making comments they can’t back up.

    You just don’t get it, do you Sunny? Libel law as it is currently constituted offers very little protection to a defendant even if they can back up their comment. Defending yourself against libel action is expensive, which is why newspapers accede to requests to delete comments on their forums all the time, even if the comments in question are clearly non-libellous.

    Damages will reflect harm done to reputation. The fact that someone can sue at any point after a comemnt is made is besides the point. By failing to remove what he consdiers to be libellous comments from a site he maintains, Andy is exacerbating the alleged libel. Or to put it another way, damages due for a libel that stood for one day will be less than damages due for a libel that continues to be hosted weeks after it was first published. You’re effectively saying that Andy Newman is within his rights to potentially cost DT many thousands of additinal pounds by failing to delete material he is hosting and which he considers to be libellous, and DT should just have to lump it. Nice.

    Well, in his desperation to ensure DT is fucked over right and proper, Andy failed to read his libel law. And please stop with your irgnorant comments about setting some sort of legal precedent. Publishers are responsible for the comments they publish. This is the existing legal situation.

    Mark T – has any of the interested parties asked for the comment to be removed?

    Yes, however, they keep asking the person who made the comment and has no power to delete, rather than the Respect party supporter who could delete.

  117. earwicga — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:37 pm  

    Mark T – has any of the interested parties asked for the comment to be removed?

    Yes, however, they keep asking the person who made the comment and has no power to delete, rather than the Respect party supporter who could delete.

    So DavidT has requested the comment be deleted and Andy Newmam has refused then? Is this the case?

  118. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:41 pm  

    But, I’m “hyper-partisan” because I ask two obvious questions about the situation that have so far remain unanswered.

    Which are?

    , the _first_ thing I would do would be to get the friend to remove it.

    I think its pretty obvious that David T and Andy Newman are not friends. That still doesn’t refute the point I’m making about costs though.

    Defending yourself against libel action is expensive,

    No shit sherlock – which is why I find this idea that I should take it to the judge, by you as well, quite amusing.

    The fact that someone can sue at any point after a comemnt is made is besides the point.

    Oh dear lord. I can’t be asked to debate with someone who keeps ignoring my points.

  119. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:43 pm  

    I’m sure you know the difference between having the ability to delete something and refusing to.

    Huh? Andy Newman continues to host a comment he considers to be libellous. We know this because he has said so in his post. We also know SU has a comments moderation policy, so the concept of moderation is not alien to Andy. He/they regularly delete comments.

    DavidT did a post on HP to make it clear that his t-shirt remark was a joke and he was happy to clarify that he didn’t actually believe the Viva Palestina slogan was an extract from the Hamas’ covenant. In other words, he did what was in his power to mitigate the alleged libel. He can’t delete the comment, Andy can, but won’t.

    Your position is that DT should allow himself to be taken to the cleaners for a joke whilst Andy’s actions add £££££s to any damages DT will have to pay.

    Sunny, your hatred of HP has blinded you to all logic for a long-time now which is a problem in itself, but given you were never the brightest button in the tin to begin with, it’s becoming a very serious problem for your writing.

  120. Ravi Naik — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:43 pm  

    To retain a comment which you have yourself described as libellous and then continue to draw attention to it is hard to see as anything other than malicious.

    If Newman’s motive really is no more than a desire to stick it to David T and help Galloway then I’d say David T has every right to defend himself using the law as it stands.

    That’s exactly my view.

  121. Abu Faris — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:45 pm  

    I agree with Ravi Naik, @120, about this.

  122. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 6:54 pm  

    Sunny, your hatred of HP has blinded you to all logic for a long-time now which is a problem in itself, but given you were never the brightest button in the tin to begin with, it’s becoming a very serious problem for your writing.

    Thanks Brownie – coming from you I’ll take that as a badge of honour. I don’t hate HP, I just think its obsession with Muslims is now completely off the charts. Shame you can’t see that eh?

    That’s exactly my view.

    And my worry is the precedent it sets. There was time when bloggers put aside political differences to unite against libel law being abused against bloggers and bad precedents being set. This is why I opposed Galloway’s move. But I cannot support this development for reasons I’ve explained in detail.

    I’m sure people can make up their own minds of the danger this poses.

  123. Abu Faris — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:05 pm  

    I don’t think HP has an obsession with Muslims.

    I think David T, Habibi and others writing above the line on HP have a healthy loathing for politicised religion and all forms of clerical fascism. That is no bad thing. The relationship between religion and politics is most often toxic in its consequences.

    Unsurprisingly enough, Islamists tend to be Muslims. However, not all Muslims are Islamists. A point, to be fair, that David T and others on HP repeatedly emphasise.

  124. Katy Newton — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:08 pm  

    Me too.

    I know little if anything of what happened and I have no opinion as to whether the comment made was defamatory or not or, if it was, whether David T or Socialist Unity or anyone else was responsible for it. But I am fascinated by your anger over this, Sunny. It’s as if the concept of a publisher being responsible for the content they publish is completely new to you. Surely you were aware of this? You know that Ben Goldacre and the Guardian were sued together, and that Gitta Sereny and Penguin were sued together, didn’t you? You have the final say over what gets published here, but that also means the buck stops with you. If you let people comment on the website without moderating first, that’s still content published by you. If you’re bothered by that, you moderate aggressively, either before publication or afterwards.

    You seem outraged that David T has threatened to join Socialist Unity in this action. It’s perfectly normal for this to happen in civil cases. It has always been the case that a defendant in a civil suit was entitled to join a third party as a co-defendant on the basis that the claimant had sued the wrong person or the co-defendant shared at least some of the blame. There is nothing new in this, David T is not setting a new precedent by doing it, you were always in danger of being “dragged into” other people’s cases, as you put it, you just weren’t aware of it before now.

    Libel law is a fickle beast and is frequently abused. I understand your general concerns about it. Of course you must worry that you might be picked on by someone with deep pockets if they’re offended by something you say, and of course you might take the view that whether what you said was justified or not you’d rather not risk defending your position in court. That’s up to you. But you’re blaming David T for a situation that has always existed and a risk that you have always run as a blog owner, whether you knew it or not and whether you like it or not. It cannot have been news to you that as a publisher you run the risk of being held responsible for allowing one of your contributors or commenters to post content that offends someone, surely? Isn’t the danger of a libel suit an occupational hazard of the world of media?

  125. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:10 pm  

    Unsurprisingly enough, Islamists tend to be Muslims. However, not all Muslims are Islamists. A point, to be fair, that David T and others on HP repeatedly emphasise.

    Mmmm…. yeah. Likely story. Though, bizarrely, people there constantly criticise others for having an “unhealthy interest” in Israel. Lots of google searches are also used to back up their case… which is apparently the gold standard for such searches.

    People in glass houses… etc etc. Please say something original.

  126. FlyingRodent — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:19 pm  

    Andy Newman’s behaviour has been thoroughly shitty here, but if the boot was on the other foot this lot would be squealing about persecution and free speech until the lot of us were dousing ourselves in petrol and frantically striking matches like the Indian passenger in Airplane!

  127. Don — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:26 pm  

    if the boot was on the other foot this lot

    You lost me. Who?

  128. Paul Moloney — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:27 pm  

    Me: “the _first_ thing I would do would be to get the friend to remove it.”

    Sunny: “I think its pretty obvious that David T and Andy Newman are not friends”

    Sunny, are you being deliberately contrarian? I’m obviously referring to Andy and George here – the point I made in my original comment that you followed up to.

    P.

  129. Why So Glum? — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:29 pm  

    Come on guys, look on the bright side — surely we can all find it hilarious that a mindless Galloway-booster like Newman might soon be forced to defend himself against Galloway’s prosecution in court? Newman has kept a studious silence about the propensity of his heroes to silence their critics through libel writs. Well, what goes around comes around.

  130. Why So Glum? — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:35 pm  

    British libel laws are so ridiculously plaintif friendly that anyone to runs to a lawyer before seeking other means of redress – especially in a trivial matter such as this – must come under suspicion of being motivated by petty malice and greed.

    It’s always the Left, though, isn’t it? I mean, when was the last time you heard of a right-wing blogger or politician turning to the “bourgeois courts” in this country to silence their opponents? Galloway and Sheridan must make their supporters so proud to regularly follow in the footsteps of anti-democratic scum like Irving.

  131. Sunny — on 7th April, 2010 at 7:47 pm  

    I mean, when was the last time you heard of a right-wing blogger or politician turning to the “bourgeois courts” in this country to silence their opponents?

    I have about ten examples. I’ve been sent legal letters by only right-wing people… incl Guido Fawkes and Douglas Murray.

  132. Refresh — on 7th April, 2010 at 8:23 pm  

    As far as I can see Andy Newman is of the view he has taken steps to dissociate the blog from the comment. That is what he has said in the quote above. Whether deletion is necessary I am not sure.

    We still don’t know if DavidT has requested a deletion. If he has not, why not? The last I read HP on the subject, he seemed to be relishing the ‘fight’, which would suggest he has not made the request.

    So the blog owner may have decided it was worth preserving the evidence. Lets face it, its worth preserving DavidT’s every utterance.

    Legally, I would have thought it was the plaintiff’s prerogative to decide who he needed to take on to seek redress. Its clear the plaintiff in this case knows that its definitely not the publisher as he is offering no support to views expressed.

    I actually like DavidT’s move, enjoining Andy Newman will make the case all the more lively. As I said earlier (#13), a commenter shouldn’t be able to leave potentially ‘libellous’ comments on someone else’s blog and expect them to carry the burden. If you are careful not to do it on your own doorstep, you should not be rewarded for leaving it at someone else’s.

    Having said all of that, if DavidT requests a deletion, then it should be granted along with a terse note on a headed and watermarked piece of paper, appropriately sealed.

  133. Don — on 7th April, 2010 at 8:24 pm  

    Yeah, Staines is particularly egregious in this.

  134. earwicga — on 7th April, 2010 at 8:32 pm  

    Refresh – that was the impression I was under too re. DavidT. Last I read he was going to simply ignore the lawyer’s letter, which he is doing really well – except for the blogging about it and the legal work he has sought obviously.

  135. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 10:57 pm  

    but if the boot was on the other foot this lot would be squealing about persecution and free speech…

    Again, huh? The boot would never be on the other foot as we’re not in the business of availing ourselves of this country’s absurb libel laws even though we are defamed and misrepresented on a daily basis.*

    *See Andy Newman and the SU blog days before this current spat broke and the “Davud Toube in Islamaphobic rant” post and the accompanying video that demonstrated nothing of the sort.

    earwicga, it is not in the gift of DT to have the comment deleted. What cannot be disputed (as the solicitor letters are in the public domain) is that a request was made for the comment to be deleted. Given the discussion and his part as a protagonist in this affair, it’s going to be pretty difficult for Andy to claim that he wasn’t aware of a request for deletion. If he’s planning to rely on a defence along the lines of:

    “I thought it was okay to host a comment that I considered libellous as although there had been a request for deletion this had not been made directly to me”

    then I wish him the best of luck. He’ll need it.

  136. Refresh — on 7th April, 2010 at 11:33 pm  

    notBrownie,

    I take it you are confirming that DavidT has requested a deletion via a legal representative.

    Had he requested it himself directly? This could be important. Most decent people would say it would be the honourable way of doing things. Acknowledge your mistake and request its put right.

    If that is not the case, then either he lacks honour or he has been working on an elaborate sting. Drawing in Andy Newman.

    If the latter is the case, then Solomon’s judgement might be that there was no real humility shown, therefore no redress for the plaintiff and the enjoining of Andy Newman might yet be considered vexatious.

  137. not_Brownie — on 7th April, 2010 at 11:54 pm  

    I take it you are confirming that DavidT has requested a deletion via a legal representative.

    Do you? Good for you. DT has been understandably distracted for a few days and I can guarantee you I don’t have the first clue what DT has and hasn’t said to either plaintiff or Andy Newman. What DT did was write a post on HP and clarify that his comment was indeed a joke and that the slogan on the VP t-shirts was not an extract from the Hamas covenant. In other words, he has mitigated the alleged libel to the best of his ability.

    Meanwhile, Andy Newman continues to host a comment he himself considers libellous even though he must, I assume, be aware of a request from the plaintiff to have it deleted, albeit a request not made directly to him (so far as I’m aware).

    If you think a judge will just shrug his shoulders at a plaintiff demanding deletion by someone not empowered to delete whilst failing to demand deletion by the one person who could delete, then you’re probably ideally qualified to represent Sunny.

  138. Refresh — on 8th April, 2010 at 12:16 am  

    ‘Do you? Good for you. DT has been understandably distracted for a few days and I can guarantee you I don’t have the first clue what DT has and hasn’t said to either plaintiff or Andy Newman.’

    I am glad I asked, as your previous comment appeared to give the impression you knew.

    Your last comment is an alleged revelation. You are saying DavidT mitigated his alleged libel by putting up a post on HP – which appeared to me to be more one of defiance mixed in with a bit of rabble-rousing.

    And yet when Andy Newman mitigates his responsibility to delete by dissociating the blog from DavidT’s comment you are dissatisfied.

    This is childishness – its not a defence of free speech or a potential blow against archaic libel laws.

    He would have had a position worth defending if he had asked for the deletion instead of turning it into another gladitorial event.

    Its DavidT wanting someone else’s cake and eating it.

  139. not_Brownie — on 8th April, 2010 at 12:46 am  

    And yet when Andy Newman mitigates his responsibility to delete by dissociating the blog from DavidT’s comment you are dissatisfied.

    Like Sunny, you don’t get it. It’s the law that isn’t satisfied. Andy Newman is the publisher of his blog, comments and all. If he had unwittingly allowed a libellous comment to be published on his blog but took steps to remove it the minute he became aware of it I’m sure a judge would view this as mitigation, albeit he is still responsible for what he publishes. But in this case, Andy is admitting he hosted and continues to host what he considers to be a libel and thinks that by saying “I regard this as libel” he is protected. Maybe you think the law should work this way (it shouldn’t, as it effectively hands the blog owner a veto over whether a commenter defendant in a libel case can fully mitigate his alleged libel i.e. only an owner, not a commenter, can delete his comments), but it doesn’t.

    You are saying DavidT mitigated his alleged libel by putting up a post on HP – which appeared to me to be more one of defiance mixed in with a bit of rabble-rousing.

    The salient point is that he clarified that he accepted there was no truth in his jokey suggestion that the VP slogn was an extract from the Hamas covenant. He was withdrawing the accusation it was, which is a clear attempt to mitigate the alleged libel. He can’t delete the comment, and it’s inconceivable that the plaintiff can’t know this or that if a deletion is genuinely sought that the person to ask for deletion is the owner of the blog in question.

    He would have had a position worth defending if he had asked for the deletion

    DT is not the plaintiff. FFS, is it something in the water here?

  140. Refresh — on 8th April, 2010 at 1:12 am  

    ‘DT is not the plaintiff. FFS, is it something in the water here?’

    No one has said he is.

    ‘Like Sunny, you don’t get it.’

    But I do. From what I’ve seen so does Sunny.

    How does a post on one blog mitigate something propositioned on another?

  141. Sunny — on 8th April, 2010 at 2:21 am  

    Jeez, how many times do I have to explain this. This thread has completely wasted my day today, especially when trying to engage with people like Brownie.

    Katy: It’s as if the concept of a publisher being responsible for the content they publish is completely new to you. Surely you were aware of this?

    Jesus Katy, have you bothered reading what I said earlier? I’m perfectly aware of the legal danger. But usually the point is that if someone contacts me and asks me to delete something and I don’t intentionally, they can can legitimately take me to court if the content is libellous.

    On the other hand I know for a fact that if I didn’t delete a a comment because I’d not known it was here, but was still sent a letter demanding costs, then I could say that I wasn’t aware of its existence and that the court won’t look so nicely on the person taking me to court if I didn’t pay up.

    But my problem here is that if the person being libelled demands costs from someone else who has posted a comment here, then this case could potentially set the precedent that I can get dragged into it and have to pay the costs. That, to me, is potentially a different kettle of fish because along with the demand for the comment to be removed, could be a demand for significant costs borne by the person who made the comment originally. If they then drag me into it – what the hell am I supposed to do?

    I don’t know how many times I can explain that. But its rather different to being simply liable for comments made by people who post here. Andy Newman is being dragged into a case between Galloway and David T. I don’t think that’s right. Predictably, people are taking DT’s side for ideological reasons – but with bloggers its been generally the case that we put aside ideological differences when it comes to libel law.
    Most bloggers have understood what I’m talking about. The few here taking DT’s side are either not bloggers or write for HP. I think that says all there is to say.

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