Libel chillin’ – or Chilling Libel

by webmaster on May 28, 2010

Two things happened yesterday that reminded me of what it was like when as a child you hear about something that is wrong. As a child, certainly for me, I could never understand how something that’s wrong can be allowed to stand. For example, and not wishing to beat a dead drum on this one: the handball by Thierry Henry in the France versus Ireland World Cup play-off which led to France’s goal was clearly wrong; the evidence proves that it was wrong; yet it’s allowed to stand.
Okay, let’s get to the point. One of these two things I was talking about was the Libel Chill event in Dublin’s Science Gallery (http://sciencegallery.ie/); the other I can’t tell you about because it may be libellous itself (which I guess is a bit ironic).
It was when listening to the speakers at the Libel Chill event that something crystallised for me. I always thought that libel can’t be libel if what the person says or prints or blogs is true and this is what I mean by being reminded of being a child.
And of course this is correct. If I print something in this blog, like what I have said about that French football player, I can’t be sued for libel because it is true… well, of course I can be sued but the case clearly couldn’t win because what I said is true and provable. Thankfully, Thierry Henry is unlikely to sue for libel in any case.
So why then do organisations sue people like journalists or bloggers for amounts of money that they don’t have, and that the organisations don’t need, in libel cases where the evidence will show, when heard, that the libel cannot be proven – and in case any lawyers are sitting there with their fingers on some kind of litigation hair trigger, I am not referring to the cases discussed in the Libel Chill event, I am only speaking generally.
And I’m not going to conclude anything either. I am going to only pose a question, so please don’t sue me – trust me, I have nothing!
Is it that the only reason, and I may be wrong in this, for pursuing someone like a blogger or journalist through the courts in a libel case where what the blogger or journalist wrote or said is clearly true as proven by the available evidence, is to stop other bloggers and journalists from writing and saying similar things that will highlight to the public that the claims that organisations are making may not be as true as they would seem from the way in which the organisations say them? Isn’t that called bullying???
Was that vague enough? (I hope so)

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{ 1 comment }

Epicanis May 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

” is to stop other bloggers and journalists from writing and saying similar things that will highlight to the public that the claims that organisations are making may not be as true as they would seem from the way in which the organisations say them? Isn’t that called bullying???”
I like to call it a “lawsiege” – the corporation or celebrity surrounds the victim with lawyers who lob expensive legal threats and challenges until the victim is economically starved and has to give in, regardless of the rightness of their legal position.
The main difference between this and “bullying” is hundreds of dollars/pounds/euros per hour in fees.

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