[extropy-chat] Internet Libel now gets court fines in UK
pharos at gmail.com
Fri Mar 24 10:10:16 UTC 2006
On 3/23/06, spike wrote:
> Let us have a good old-fashioned extropian punfest, just to celebrate the
> fact that we have managed to achieve the goal of going several months
> without flaming each other's brains out.
> ExI-chat has become a kinder and gentler place.
> Do let us keep it that way, shall we?
· High court orders lecturer to pay £10,000 damages
· Lawyers say case confirms existing law applies on net
The dark side of the blogosphere was revealed by a libel action
brought by Michael Keith-Smith, a former Conservative party member who
stood for Ukip in Portsmouth North at the last election. He said he
was moved to sue after a woman with whom he was debating the merits of
military action in Iraq began a campaign of name-calling that started
by describing him as "lard brain" and culminated in falsely labelling
him a "Nazi", a "racist bigot" and a "nonce".
Tracy Williams, a college lecturer from Oldham, was ordered by a high
court judge to pay £10,000 in damages, as well as Mr Keith-Smith's
£7,200 costs, and told never to repeat the allegations.
He has also taken action against a second poster, he said, with whom
he claimed to have settled for a sum "in the region of £30,000".
"They started saying I was on a sex offenders' list and that people
shouldn't let me near their children," said Mr Keith-Smith.
Legal experts said the case should be taken as a warning to the
millions of people in the UK debating contentious issues on message
boards, in chatrooms and on their own blogs that the laws of libel
applied just as they would if the comments were published in a leaflet
So, Spike, you can expect UK posters to be extraordinarily polite from
now on! :)
The traditional UK attributes of understatement and damning with faint
praise will come to the fore.
PS. For the benefit of foreign viewers, in UK usage,
nonce n. A nonce is a child-molester, as featured in the fine
"Brasseye" spoof TV programme where popular celebrities were duped
into wearing T-shirts advocating "nonce-sense". I am told that the
term originates from when sex offenders were admitted as
"non-specified offenders" (thereby "non-specified" and thence "nonce")
in the hope that they might not get the harsh treatment metered out to
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