Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

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EACLucifer
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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by EACLucifer » Mon Jan 30, 2023 11:23 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 11:04 pm
bjn wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 10:49 pm
Current UK libel laws suck, they allow the rich to censor people they don’t like. This is not good. Some libel laws are required however, imagine what New Corp would get up to without any libel laws.

Regardless, mass murderers not resident in the UK who are under sanction should not have access to our courts unless they are being tried for crimes against humanity.
They should have access, but they shouldn't be allowed to use sanctioned assets to pay for access.

Pretty simple position really. If your assets are sanctioned, you can't use them. If you've been wronged so badly, someone will take the case no win, no fee.
It's also important to note that Prigozhin sued Higgins for (correctly and accurately) accusing him of the same behaviour and connections that he had been sanctioned for. So the treasury bent the rules to let him sue someone for saying what the government itself considered sufficiently proven to pass sanctions.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by jimbob » Mon Jan 30, 2023 11:25 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 11:04 pm
bjn wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 10:49 pm
Current UK libel laws suck, they allow the rich to censor people they don’t like. This is not good. Some libel laws are required however, imagine what New Corp would get up to without any libel laws.

Regardless, mass murderers not resident in the UK who are under sanction should not have access to our courts unless they are being tried for crimes against humanity.
They should have access, but they shouldn't be allowed to use sanctioned assets to pay for access.

Pretty simple position really. If your assets are sanctioned, you can't use them. If you've been wronged so badly, someone will take the case no win, no fee.
Exactly.

Otherwise it's just law for the rich.
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by bob sterman » Tue Jan 31, 2023 7:05 am

A wrong - being a major destination for "libel tourism". It's not just that people who live overseas can take action here - it's that people are able to take libel action against the New York Times in London rather than the USA because you can find copies of the NYT for sale in some shops in London.

Surely we shouldn't be dealing with cases where neither the plaintiff nor the main publisher of the supposedly defamatory materials is based in the UK?

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by dyqik » Tue Jan 31, 2023 11:15 am

bob sterman wrote:
Tue Jan 31, 2023 7:05 am
A wrong - being a major destination for "libel tourism". It's not just that people who live overseas can take action here - it's that people are able to take libel action against the New York Times in London rather than the USA because you can find copies of the NYT for sale in some shops in London.

Surely we shouldn't be dealing with cases where neither the plaintiff nor the main publisher of the supposedly defamatory materials is based in the UK?
Particularly given that our court systems are unable to schedule murder and rape trials for several years after they enter the court system.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by IvanV » Tue Jan 31, 2023 11:39 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 3:45 am
If a statement is published about someone in England, then that person is entitled under libel law to take action in teh English courts. If you don;t like that, then you should support abolishing libel.
I believe we should have defamation laws in Britain. But I don't assent unconditionally to your description, because it is so much about where you draw the lines. It is not a yes/no question. It is a matter of degree, a very important matter of degree.

When should someone have standing to sue for libel in England? When is it published "sufficiently" in Britain, as opposed to somewhere else? A very important related point is where does that person's reputation lie, substantially, that has been damaged by this publication, that this is the suitable jurisdiction to be protecting it? Because in practical reality practically everything you publish these days is available to the world, or that part of the world with a sufficiently free media. Most other libel courts are much stricter on the matter of standing, so that the case is addressed in a suitable jurisdiction, not just the jurisdiction that one party hopes will be most helpful to them.

If someone publishes a statement on a Russian media site, and a dozen computers with GB IP addresses have apparently downloaded it, then has it been published in in GB enough for you to sue in the English courts? (Let's put complications about Scotland to one side.) In the bad old days, when libel was even more plaintiff-friendly than today, that situation was enough for various rich foreigners to sue for libel in England. It had apparently been read by a few people in England. Therefore it was published in England. Therefore you could sue in England. Even though it was published in Russian, on a website whose main audience was Russia and/or Russian-speaking people in the FSU. And the damaged individual's main economic standing was in Russia. They wouldn't have been able to sue for libel in most other countries, just because it had been downloaded a few times there. Because that interpretation by the English court was a very extreme position, not taken in most places.

The other issue is whether the plaintiff has much of a reputation established in that country, and which has been damaged by that publication. A lot of countries will look at the plaintiff's standing in that jurisdiction, and consider whether this really is the right jurisdiction to be addressing the case, considering where the economic damage of the defamation might occur, in that jurisdiction. US states do that too, because in principle when something is published in the US it can be read anywhere in the US. But you have to choose your jurisdiction to sue, they won't let you sue 50 times in 50 states. States will only let you sue if they consider it has enough connection to that state, as opposed to others. So, for example, when US chess player, resident in California, Hans Niemann sued world champion Hans Carlsen, a Norwegian, for defamation in relation to cheating allegations, he sued in Missouri. Missouri is the location of the tournament where Carlsen resigned at move 2, and subsequently explained this as refusing to play against cheaters. The first issue in the case was, did the case have standing in Missouri? The first action in the case was the judge - not the defendants, the judge - asking Niemann's lawyers to justify that they had standing to sue in Missouri. Commentators suggested that was far from obvious they did. Since the case proceeded to a further stage, where the defendants asked for it to be struck out on various other grounds, I guess Niemann passed the court standing test.

People still come to Britain to sue for libel, because we have the reputation as the jurisdiction most friendly to libel plaintiffs, among countries with reasonably independent courts. It is not a good reputation for Britain to have. We are still far too willing to let people sue in Britain with only limited connection to Britain, and in relation to publications that are only peripherally read in Britain.

The other key point in libel jurisdiction is when is something just an opinion you might have, or just insult, as opposed to asserting something as fact. In the UK, you are allowed to express opinions, and insults, so long as they are "reasonable" opinions, and reasonably recognisable as opinions or insults. The US is much more willing to allow statements to be interpreted as opinions and insults. Vernon Unsworth unsuccessfully sued Elon Musk, who called him a "pedo guy", when rescuing youths trapped in a cave in Thailand. The court accepted this was just invective.

The main winners in libel cases, as in much else in the law, are the lawyers. I would suspect that earnings by lawyers is the main reason that the government doesn't clamp down on libel actions, even to bring us in line with other reasonably civilised places on the continent. Some large fraction of the house of commons are lawyers, and are probably well-connected to the lawyers who make all the money from this.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by noggins » Tue Jan 31, 2023 5:04 pm

And libel cases rarely have juries, so there's little prospect of us peasants putting our oar in.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by jimbob » Tue Jan 31, 2023 11:23 pm

IvanV wrote:
Tue Jan 31, 2023 11:39 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 3:45 am
If a statement is published about someone in England, then that person is entitled under libel law to take action in teh English courts. If you don;t like that, then you should support abolishing libel.

I believe we should have defamation laws in Britain. But I don't assent unconditionally to your description, because it is so much about where you draw the lines. It is not a yes/no question. It is a matter of degree, a very important matter of degree.


When should someone have standing to sue for libel in England? When is it published "sufficiently" in Britain, as opposed to somewhere else? A very important related point is where does that person's reputation lie, substantially, that has been damaged by this publication, that this is the suitable jurisdiction to be protecting it? Because in practical reality practically everything you publish these days is available to the world, or that part of the world with a sufficiently free media. Most other libel courts are much stricter on the matter of standing, so that the case is addressed in a suitable jurisdiction, not just the jurisdiction that one party hopes will be most helpful to them.

If someone publishes a statement on a Russian media site, and a dozen computers with GB IP addresses have apparently downloaded it, then has it been published in in GB enough for you to sue in the English courts? (Let's put complications about Scotland to one side.) In the bad old days, when libel was even more plaintiff-friendly than today, that situation was enough for various rich foreigners to sue for libel in England. It had apparently been read by a few people in England. Therefore it was published in England. Therefore you could sue in England. Even though it was published in Russian, on a website whose main audience was Russia and/or Russian-speaking people in the FSU. And the damaged individual's main economic standing was in Russia. They wouldn't have been able to sue for libel in most other countries, just because it had been downloaded a few times there. Because that interpretation by the English court was a very extreme position, not taken in most places.

The other issue is whether the plaintiff has much of a reputation established in that country, and which has been damaged by that publication. A lot of countries will look at the plaintiff's standing in that jurisdiction, and consider whether this really is the right jurisdiction to be addressing the case, considering where the economic damage of the defamation might occur, in that jurisdiction. US states do that too, because in principle when something is published in the US it can be read anywhere in the US. But you have to choose your jurisdiction to sue, they won't let you sue 50 times in 50 states. States will only let you sue if they consider it has enough connection to that state, as opposed to others. So, for example, when US chess player, resident in California, Hans Niemann sued world champion Hans Carlsen, a Norwegian, for defamation in relation to cheating allegations, he sued in Missouri. Missouri is the location of the tournament where Carlsen resigned at move 2, and subsequently explained this as refusing to play against cheaters. The first issue in the case was, did the case have standing in Missouri? The first action in the case was the judge - not the defendants, the judge - asking Niemann's lawyers to justify that they had standing to sue in Missouri. Commentators suggested that was far from obvious they did. Since the case proceeded to a further stage, where the defendants asked for it to be struck out on various other grounds, I guess Niemann passed the court standing test.

People still come to Britain to sue for libel, because we have the reputation as the jurisdiction most friendly to libel plaintiffs, among countries with reasonably independent courts. It is not a good reputation for Britain to have. We are still far too willing to let people sue in Britain with only limited connection to Britain, and in relation to publications that are only peripherally read in Britain.

The other key point in libel jurisdiction is when is something just an opinion you might have, or just insult, as opposed to asserting something as fact. In the UK, you are allowed to express opinions, and insults, so long as they are "reasonable" opinions, and reasonably recognisable as opinions or insults. The US is much more willing to allow statements to be interpreted as opinions and insults. Vernon Unsworth unsuccessfully sued Elon Musk, who called him a "pedo guy", when rescuing youths trapped in a cave in Thailand. The court accepted this was just invective.

The main winners in libel cases, as in much else in the law, are the lawyers. I would suspect that earnings by lawyers is the main reason that the government doesn't clamp down on libel actions, even to bring us in line with other reasonably civilised places on the continent. Some large fraction of the house of commons are lawyers, and are probably well-connected to the lawyers who make all the money from this.
Exactly.

Millennie Al, you're arguing against libel laws (not reform) by claiming that there are only a few instances when they are needed whilst at the same time asserting that a particular instance involving a sanctioned war criminal deserves libel protection.

...By bringing up the idea that it's equivalent to a hypothetical in Russia having their assets frozen and being unable to
Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 3:45 am
jimbob wrote:
Sun Jan 29, 2023 12:10 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Sat Jan 28, 2023 11:46 pm


I already said that I was in favour of abolishing libel. And I said nothing to imply that a criminal case wafs involved.

But the principle is that the law must be equally available to everyone, good or bad. The law is only a crude approximation to justice, but restricting access of those you dislike make it worse, turning it into just another weapon.
Everyone?

Everyone who is in reach of the law, maybe.

Prigozhin is not. He has no valid interests in the UK. His assets are rightly frozen.
If a statement is published about someone in England, then that person is entitled under libel law to take action in teh English courts. If you don;t like that, then you should support abolishing libel.
EACLucifer wrote:
Sun Jan 29, 2023 11:57 am
The answer to whether or not Prigozhin the butcher should have had access to the British legal system to use as a weapon is there in the story itself - sanctions would have prevented it, but for the bending of the rules. Therefore, it is clear he should not have had such access.
So when Putin freezes the assets of an opponent and then exploits their inability to pay for lawyers, you'll be cheering him on too?
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Feb 01, 2023 12:15 am

A relevant article was published in The Times: The Nadhim Zahawi scandal highlights a menacing trend about how libel laws are used to suppress unwanted revelations.

It's worth mentioning that mere truth is not a defence against a libel suit - if you can't show that what you said was true, you can still lose. This was seen when Jeffrey Archer sued the Daily Star in 1987 and won, but in 2001 he was convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice. This did no good for the editor who lost his job over the libel case and had since died.

That was why libel laws were such an effective shield for Jimmy Savile until he died and they no longer applied.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Feb 01, 2023 12:20 am

jimbob wrote:
Tue Jan 31, 2023 11:23 pm
Millennie Al, you're arguing against libel laws (not reform) by claiming that there are only a few instances when they are needed whilst at the same time asserting that a particular instance involving a sanctioned war criminal deserves libel protection.
No. I am not arguing that at all. I am arging that nobody deserves libel protection, but that it should be removed fairly and equally by abolishing libel - not by limiting access to the courts. Making the courts unfair and inequitable is not a solution.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by IvanV » Wed Feb 01, 2023 1:20 pm

Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 3:51 am
jimbob wrote:
Sun Jan 29, 2023 12:14 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Sat Jan 28, 2023 11:46 pm
I already said that I was in favour of abolishing libel.
Abolishing? What about situations where people are defamed, say by someone like Alex Jones?
Those cases are very much the exception. Libel almost exclusively protects the rich and powerful, and does so with little regard for the truth. Have you already forgotten Simon Singh and the BCA?

Or see this case: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/ ... el-jackson where huge costs were incurred succesfully defending a libel case. Most people when faced with a libel case do not have the resources to defend, which is why it is so useful to suppress the truth.
Or a local newspaper owner takes against someone and maliciously spreads a falsehood (or hears a falsehood, believes it and spreads it)?
The readers need to be less credulous. And I suspect they would be. People are fairly good at noticing that a story is coming from only one source.
If the libel laws were completely relaxed, there was open season on saying what you liked about anyone, I think there would be a very massive expansion in unjustifiable accusations being published. And it would be very hard for the person on the Clapham omnibus to distinguish what was flimflam and what was justifiable news.

Publishers are aware of the large costs of libel, and are for the most part very careful to avoid committing libel. I used to know this lawyer whose job, on alternate weeks, was to read the newspaper copy every night before it went to press.

We argue about whether the justice system should release the names of people accused of sexual crimes, because the reputational cost to them is so great merely to be accused of it, even if - as often happens - they are acquitted. There is the potential to do a lot of serious damage to people's lives if there was no restraint on what you could publish about people, as it was fact, as opposed to reasonable opinion or insult. And this isn't just celebrity, it's all sorts of people.

The US is much more free and easy about it. It is hard to win a defamation suit there, though it is easier for the non-famous than the famous. In all or nearly all states, "public figures" have to pass the extra test of demonstrating "actual malice" (a legal term which does not necessarily mean what you might think it does) to win defamation suits. That does seem to be a very clever way of balancing the economic power of the rich and the ordinary when it comes to defamation.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by dyqik » Wed Feb 01, 2023 8:18 pm

According to the US press, Diana is alive, Charles had Diana killed, Hillary Clinton is dead, Bill Clinton is dead, Harry was assassinated by Charles, etc.

Do you really want these headlines in UK supermarkets and newsagents?

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Feb 01, 2023 11:34 pm

dyqik wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 8:18 pm
According to the US press, Diana is alive, Charles had Diana killed, Hillary Clinton is dead, Bill Clinton is dead, Harry was assassinated by Charles, etc.

Do you really want these headlines in UK supermarkets and newsagents?
What has that got to do with libel laws? The only one of those which might be covered is Charles having Diana killed. The others do not defame anyone (or, not such as could be credibly asserted as harming someone's reputation as they are so obviously nonsense).

Libel laws are like people carrying guns in everyday life. You can come up with all sorts of scenarios in which they are a force for good, yet overall they very much are not.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by Gfamily » Wed Feb 01, 2023 11:56 pm

Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 11:34 pm
dyqik wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 8:18 pm
According to the US press, Diana is alive, Charles had Diana killed, Hillary Clinton is dead, Bill Clinton is dead, Harry was assassinated by Charles, etc.
What has that got to do with libel laws? The only one of those which might be covered is Charles having Diana killed. The others do not defame anyone
I'm a bit unsure whether your problem is that most of those claims don't defame anyone, or that if they did, the defamed people should not have the right to redress
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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by dyqik » Thu Feb 02, 2023 1:40 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 11:34 pm
dyqik wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 8:18 pm
According to the US press, Diana is alive, Charles had Diana killed, Hillary Clinton is dead, Bill Clinton is dead, Harry was assassinated by Charles, etc.

Do you really want these headlines in UK supermarkets and newsagents?
What has that got to do with libel laws? The only one of those which might be covered is Charles having Diana killed. The others do not defame anyone (or, not such as could be credibly asserted as harming someone's reputation as they are so obviously nonsense).
Try reading them again, because all but the Diana is alive one are defamatory in some way.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by Grumble » Thu Feb 02, 2023 6:34 am

dyqik wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 1:40 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 11:34 pm
dyqik wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 8:18 pm
According to the US press, Diana is alive, Charles had Diana killed, Hillary Clinton is dead, Bill Clinton is dead, Harry was assassinated by Charles, etc.

Do you really want these headlines in UK supermarkets and newsagents?
What has that got to do with libel laws? The only one of those which might be covered is Charles having Diana killed. The others do not defame anyone (or, not such as could be credibly asserted as harming someone's reputation as they are so obviously nonsense).
Try reading them again, because all but the Diana is alive one are defamatory in some way.
Is saying living people are dead defamation? Not sure it is.
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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by jimbob » Thu Feb 02, 2023 9:11 am

Grumble wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 6:34 am
dyqik wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 1:40 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 11:34 pm


What has that got to do with libel laws? The only one of those which might be covered is Charles having Diana killed. The others do not defame anyone (or, not such as could be credibly asserted as harming someone's reputation as they are so obviously nonsense).
Try reading them again, because all but the Diana is alive one are defamatory in some way.
Is saying living people are dead defamation? Not sure it is.
Yes it is.

Because it says that Hilary Clinton is an imposter. So it's defaming her.
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by dyqik » Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:04 am

jimbob wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 9:11 am
Grumble wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 6:34 am
dyqik wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 1:40 am


Try reading them again, because all but the Diana is alive one are defamatory in some way.
Is saying living people are dead defamation? Not sure it is.
Yes it is.

Because it says that Hilary Clinton is an imposter. So it's defaming her.
And that Bill, the Clinton Foundation and others are covering it up.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by IvanV » Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:36 am

dyqik wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 8:18 pm
According to the US press, Diana is alive, Charles had Diana killed, Hillary Clinton is dead, Bill Clinton is dead, Harry was assassinated by Charles, etc.

Do you really want these headlines in UK supermarkets and newsagents?
We had "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster" in The Sun, though apparently he only ate some of the bread of the live hamster sandwich he made. And plenty of other ridiculous stuff regularly in The Star, which specialises in it. So it seems that ridiculous lies are publishable in the UK too, in the right circumstances. In general, accusing someone of eating other people's pets could be very defamatory. But in this case it wasn't. It was actually good publicity for the comedian, whose career had been flagging.

I always remember seeing an apology once in Private Eye, which ran something along the lines of "...We now accept that the Hon. Laetitia Sniffington-Posh merely urinated out of a gondola in Venice, and did not defecate as we alleged..." So I learned that the British press, having a bit of dirt on someone, might throw a bit more, expecting to be unchallenged, on the grounds that such a challenge would likely end up confirming the bit that was true, and it was likely that the subject wouldn't want to do even that.

It's interesting. Some are arguing that any defamation law is too much, because of the abuse by the rich and famous. In the US, they still have defamation laws, but much harder to win a case, and on top the clever wrinkle that public figures have to pass an even higher test to win a case. That seems to avoid the abuse of them we get here, while still retaining some kind of defamation back-stop. But others are arguing that the level of freedom to express your opinion might go too far in the US.

At least it indicates we can stop the abuse while retaining some level of defamation laws. We don't have to go quite as far as the US to achieve that. I'm sure there are plenty of examples we could look at in other countries with respectable legal systems, where the rich and famous aren't turning up all the time to quash news stories. We could try to find a balance that best meets the range of opinions here.

But one vested interest that is preventing that would seem to be lawyers, heavily represented in practice in the House of Commons, who are the ones who make all the money out of these cases. And maybe also some rich people who use these lawyers to cover their reputations, and fund politicians.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by dyqik » Thu Feb 02, 2023 1:55 pm

IvanV wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:36 am
dyqik wrote:
Wed Feb 01, 2023 8:18 pm
According to the US press, Diana is alive, Charles had Diana killed, Hillary Clinton is dead, Bill Clinton is dead, Harry was assassinated by Charles, etc.

Do you really want these headlines in UK supermarkets and newsagents?
We had "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster" in The Sun, though apparently he only ate some of the bread of the live hamster sandwich he made. And plenty of other ridiculous stuff regularly in The Star, which specialises in it. So it seems that ridiculous lies are publishable in the UK too, in the right circumstances. In general, accusing someone of eating other people's pets could be very defamatory. But in this case it wasn't. It was actually good publicity for the comedian, whose career had been flagging.

I always remember seeing an apology once in Private Eye, which ran something along the lines of "...We now accept that the Hon. Laetitia Sniffington-Posh merely urinated out of a gondola in Venice, and did not defecate as we alleged..." So I learned that the British press, having a bit of dirt on someone, might throw a bit more, expecting to be unchallenged, on the grounds that such a challenge would likely end up confirming the bit that was true, and it was likely that the subject wouldn't want to do even that.

It's interesting. Some are arguing that any defamation law is too much, because of the abuse by the rich and famous. In the US, they still have defamation laws, but much harder to win a case, and on top the clever wrinkle that public figures have to pass an even higher test to win a case. That seems to avoid the abuse of them we get here, while still retaining some kind of defamation back-stop. But others are arguing that the level of freedom to express your opinion might go too far in the US.

At least it indicates we can stop the abuse while retaining some level of defamation laws. We don't have to go quite as far as the US to achieve that. I'm sure there are plenty of examples we could look at in other countries with respectable legal systems, where the rich and famous aren't turning up all the time to quash news stories. We could try to find a balance that best meets the range of opinions here.

But one vested interest that is preventing that would seem to be lawyers, heavily represented in practice in the House of Commons, who are the ones who make all the money out of these cases. And maybe also some rich people who use these lawyers to cover their reputations, and fund politicians.
A lot of the difference between the US and UK in this area is cultural rather than legal though. There are very few tabloid type papers that try to sell themselves as carrying serious news - the NY Post is the only one that I know of - and no national ones (even in the sense that the Washington Post or NY Times are national).

The kind of headlines I give above are from the weekly tabloids that I see at supermarket checkouts - National Enquirer etc. Those are not sold as news to be taken seriously - think more Heat* than Daily Express, or even the Sun. TV news channels fill the Sun space more than print papers do. Winning a defamation case against the National Enquirer would be hard, because the National Enquirer's lawyers will argue that no one takes anything published in the National Enquirer seriously.

US print journalists also take themselves far more seriously than UK print journalists, with most having four year degrees in journalism, with strong ethics courses, and a lot of handwringing over ethics after graduation.

Some of this difference is also why you see links from the Daily Mail's US web operation taken far more seriously by the US press on Twitter than they would be taken by UK serious journalists.

*I am probably dating myself here.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by Millennie Al » Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:55 pm

IvanV wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:36 am
In the US, they still have defamation laws, but much harder to win a case, and on top the clever wrinkle that public figures have to pass an even higher test to win a case. That seems to avoid the abuse of them we get here, while still retaining some kind of defamation back-stop.
Really? Does an ordinary person have a realistic chance of taking and winning a defamation case in the USA against a rich opponent? Over here, the cost of taking action is prohibitive. For ordinary people that means having to use a Conditional Fee Agreement, which than also means that there are limits on what you can do (since you're not paying for it, the payer is nervous about losing a lot of money and does not wan to take too many risks).

And, of course, the (civil) legal system in the USA is hugely defective, leading to many defendants simply paying compensation even when the claim is unlikely to win, because of the costs incurred by letting it get to court.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by dyqik » Fri Feb 03, 2023 12:37 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:55 pm
IvanV wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:36 am
In the US, they still have defamation laws, but much harder to win a case, and on top the clever wrinkle that public figures have to pass an even higher test to win a case. That seems to avoid the abuse of them we get here, while still retaining some kind of defamation back-stop.
Really? Does an ordinary person have a realistic chance of taking and winning a defamation case in the USA against a rich opponent?
You've heard of Alex Jones?

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by IvanV » Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:18 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:55 pm
IvanV wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:36 am
In the US, they still have defamation laws, but much harder to win a case, and on top the clever wrinkle that public figures have to pass an even higher test to win a case. That seems to avoid the abuse of them we get here, while still retaining some kind of defamation back-stop.
Really? Does an ordinary person have a realistic chance of taking and winning a defamation case in the USA against a rich opponent? Over here, the cost of taking action is prohibitive. For ordinary people that means having to use a Conditional Fee Agreement, which than also means that there are limits on what you can do (since you're not paying for it, the payer is nervous about losing a lot of money and does not wan to take too many risks).

And, of course, the (civil) legal system in the USA is hugely defective, leading to many defendants simply paying compensation even when the claim is unlikely to win, because of the costs incurred by letting it get to court.
Libel abuse, which you don't like, is generally the rich suing the less rich. So I'm not sure why a point about the less rich suing the rich is relevant to what worries you.

You argued for no libel laws at all, to prevent libel abuse. So I'm not sure why it should concern you if it was impossible for the less rich to sue the rich. But perhaps you are making the point, why have any defamation backstop at all if it is useless. But, as you yourself point out, in fact the rich get a lot of suits, which it is frequently cheaper for them to settle than fight, because you don't get awarded costs if you successfully defend a civil suit in the US. I agree with you that is a flaw in the US legal system. So, despite it being difficult to win libel suits in the US, there is some evidence of the powerful having to be careful about not defaming people, for all that freedom of speech is so much more protected in the US.

The most prominent defamation cases in the US, at least from my view here the other side of the pond, recently all involve a very rich person being sued:

-Vernon Unsworth, cave diver, sued Elon Musk for being called a pedo. Musk won, successfully defending himself on the grounds that what he said was just invective. I was disappointed, but probably because of my attitude to Musk rather than the merits of his defence. On reflection, it seems clear it was invective rather than Musk being in possession of any evidence. In view of his defence, it would have been much cheaper for Musk to settle, while giving Unsworth satisfactory optics at the outcome. But Musk being Musk, maybe he wouldn't settle.

-Johnny Depp suing Amber Heard, and winning. So it is possible to win a case against a rich person, although the plaintiff was also very rich. A very interesting and unusual outcome in that Depp won in Virginia having lost in London, when the latter is generally so much more plaintiff friendly. Though in fact Heard appealed, and that was settled with Heard paying much smaller damages than was first awarded. So probably Depp felt there was a risk of losing the appeal, and taking a smaller settlement still left satisfactory optics for him. He got 2 goes at this, which is normally not available, because he sued a newspaper rather than Heard herself in London - Heard was only a witness in that case.

-Chess player Niemann suing Carlsen and others for being accused of cheating. No informed commentators expect Niemann to get very far with this, as his case seems weak in legal terms. Also, Carlsen may well be successful in arguing that Niemann himself is sufficient of a public figure to have to show "actual malice", which makes it even harder. So maybe Niemann's action is more about publicity and causing a nuisance. The statement of case reads more like a press release than a typical statement of case. The choice of jurisdiction - Missouri, where the controversial game was played rather than being the most sensible and obvious jurisdiction - is consistent with that. The fact Niemann can bring a case like this at all against super-wealthy Carlsen suggests that 19-yr-old Niemann might be worth a bob or two himself already, which is interesting.

Though all of these are such unusual and individual cases, I'm not sure we can deduce very much from it.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by jimbob » Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:34 am

IvanV wrote:
Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:18 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:55 pm
IvanV wrote:
Thu Feb 02, 2023 11:36 am
In the US, they still have defamation laws, but much harder to win a case, and on top the clever wrinkle that public figures have to pass an even higher test to win a case. That seems to avoid the abuse of them we get here, while still retaining some kind of defamation back-stop.
Really? Does an ordinary person have a realistic chance of taking and winning a defamation case in the USA against a rich opponent? Over here, the cost of taking action is prohibitive. For ordinary people that means having to use a Conditional Fee Agreement, which than also means that there are limits on what you can do (since you're not paying for it, the payer is nervous about losing a lot of money and does not wan to take too many risks).

And, of course, the (civil) legal system in the USA is hugely defective, leading to many defendants simply paying compensation even when the claim is unlikely to win, because of the costs incurred by letting it get to court.
Libel abuse, which you don't like, is generally the rich suing the less rich. So I'm not sure why a point about the less rich suing the rich is relevant to what worries you.

You argued for no libel laws at all, to prevent libel abuse. So I'm not sure why it should concern you if it was impossible for the less rich to sue the rich. But perhaps you are making the point, why have any defamation backstop at all if it is useless. But, as you yourself point out, in fact the rich get a lot of suits, which it is frequently cheaper for them to settle than fight, because you don't get awarded costs if you successfully defend a civil suit in the US. I agree with you that is a flaw in the US legal system. So, despite it being difficult to win libel suits in the US, there is some evidence of the powerful having to be careful about not defaming people, for all that freedom of speech is so much more protected in the US.

The most prominent defamation cases in the US, at least from my view here the other side of the pond, recently all involve a very rich person being sued:

-Vernon Unsworth, cave diver, sued Elon Musk for being called a pedo. Musk won, successfully defending himself on the grounds that what he said was just invective. I was disappointed, but probably because of my attitude to Musk rather than the merits of his defence. On reflection, it seems clear it was invective rather than Musk being in possession of any evidence. In view of his defence, it would have been much cheaper for Musk to settle, while giving Unsworth satisfactory optics at the outcome. But Musk being Musk, maybe he wouldn't settle.

-Johnny Depp suing Amber Heard, and winning. So it is possible to win a case against a rich person, although the plaintiff was also very rich. A very interesting and unusual outcome in that Depp won in Virginia having lost in London, when the latter is generally so much more plaintiff friendly. Though in fact Heard appealed, and that was settled with Heard paying much smaller damages than was first awarded. So probably Depp felt there was a risk of losing the appeal, and taking a smaller settlement still left satisfactory optics for him. He got 2 goes at this, which is normally not available, because he sued a newspaper rather than Heard herself in London - Heard was only a witness in that case.

-Chess player Niemann suing Carlsen and others for being accused of cheating. No informed commentators expect Niemann to get very far with this, as his case seems weak in legal terms. Also, Carlsen may well be successful in arguing that Niemann himself is sufficient of a public figure to have to show "actual malice", which makes it even harder. So maybe Niemann's action is more about publicity and causing a nuisance. The statement of case reads more like a press release than a typical statement of case. The choice of jurisdiction - Missouri, where the controversial game was played rather than being the most sensible and obvious jurisdiction - is consistent with that. The fact Niemann can bring a case like this at all against super-wealthy Carlsen suggests that 19-yr-old Niemann might be worth a bob or two himself already, which is interesting.

Though all of these are such unusual and individual cases, I'm not sure we can deduce very much from it.
I disagree that it was only invective, given that he hired a private investigator to check out whether his accusations could be true
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by Woodchopper » Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:57 am

IvanV wrote:
Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:18 am
-Johnny Depp suing Amber Heard, and winning. So it is possible to win a case against a rich person, although the plaintiff was also very rich. A very interesting and unusual outcome in that Depp won in Virginia having lost in London, when the latter is generally so much more plaintiff friendly. Though in fact Heard appealed, and that was settled with Heard paying much smaller damages than was first awarded. So probably Depp felt there was a risk of losing the appeal, and taking a smaller settlement still left satisfactory optics for him. He got 2 goes at this, which is normally not available, because he sued a newspaper rather than Heard herself in London - Heard was only a witness in that case.
I've seen it argued that one of the reasons why Depp won in Virginia was that his lawyers argued successfully that Heard had lied in the London case. If so his losing in the UK and winning in the US would make sense.

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Re: Rights and wrongs of UK libel laws

Post by IvanV » Fri Feb 03, 2023 12:08 pm

jimbob wrote:
Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:34 am
IvanV wrote:
Fri Feb 03, 2023 11:18 am
...
The most prominent defamation cases in the US, at least from my view here the other side of the pond, recently all involve a very rich person being sued:

-Vernon Unsworth, cave diver, sued Elon Musk for being called a pedo. Musk won, successfully defending himself on the grounds that what he said was just invective. I was disappointed, but probably because of my attitude to Musk rather than the merits of his defence. On reflection, it seems clear it was invective rather than Musk being in possession of any evidence. In view of his defence, it would have been much cheaper for Musk to settle, while giving Unsworth satisfactory optics at the outcome. But Musk being Musk, maybe he wouldn't settle.
...
I disagree that it was only invective, given that he hired a private investigator to check out whether his accusations could be true
So I was going on the idea that saying something horrible, with no knowledge of it being true, and that being widely appreciated that you had no knowledge, could reasonably be taken as invective.

But you point out that there is bit more to it than that. He seems to have said it, without any knowledge at time of saying, but seemingly with the hope that it might hit the mark. I agree that is rather nastier kind of thing than plain invective. I think I accepted it was just invective, once it became clear that there was no evidence for it. Ultimately Unsworth has protected his reputation despite losing the suit, in particular because of the invective defence eventually used by Musk.

I can now see that Musk's lawyer might have had a rather harder job to get him out of that one than a simple case of invective. Clearly I still hoped Musk would lose, but perhaps I was trying to find a way of reducing my disappointment at the outcome.

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