Internet/Media Articles

Lord McAlpine has no doubt had a stressful week. This may be considered an understatement given the damage that his reputation has suffered. The settlement monies paid by the BBC for damages to his reputation are unlikely to provide much recompense for this.

Following on from my previous article about Frankie Boyle’s libel case against the Daily Mirror, the recent judgment pronounced by Mr Justice Eady at the High Court is exactly what we at Pinder Reaux, thought it would be. The Daily Mirror failed to convince the Court that Mr Boyle was a racist comedian, among other claims.

The recent decision by Justice Eady in the case of Tamiz v Google Inc [2012] EWHC 449 (QB) indicated that for the purpose of defamation law in this country, websites, and in particular search engines such as Google and Yahoo, cannot be considered publishers. If they are not publishers then they cannot be held liable for the publication of defamatory material, and therefore cannot be held liable for online defamation. A relatively straightforward way of thinking, correct? A gentlemen by the name of Michael Trkulja in Australia may beg to differ.

The recent case of Azher Ahmed, sentenced to 240 hours of community service at Huddersfield Magistrates Court for grossly offensive comments he posted on Facebook, has once again split lawyers and divided people.

Free speech advocates have called Mr Ahmed’s conviction an attack on basic human rights; some lawyers have called it a just and appropriate use of the law. However in my opinion, the true repercussions go deeper and require further examination.

It has recently been reported that comedian Frankie Boyle will take libel action over an article published on 19 July 2011,which he claims made a number of defamatory accusations about him, the most serious in his opinion being a, description of him as a “racist”. His specialist defamation solicitors claim that this is obviously defamatory.

Facebook has again been caught up in another breach of privacy row over the way in which it manages users’ data. This is an on-going controversial issue which does not appear to be subsiding any time soon.

As specialist defamation solicitors, we at Pinder Reaux read the recent High Court decision pronounced by Mr Justice Tugendhat in the Elton John v Times libel case, with interest.

Elton John brought proceedings on the basis of two articles published by the Times in June 2012 which concerned tax avoidance schemes.

In keeping with the recent spate of seeing literally more of the Royal Family than we ever have, Her Royal Highness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (more regularly referred to as ‘Kate Middleton’) has now been caught sunbathing topless by the telescopic lens of a journalist. Not only was this an unwise course of action by the journalist, but for these photos to have actually been published in the national (albeit French) media is outrageous.

We have to put things into perspective here.

Any Google user knows that typing a search term into Google gives up a number of auto-suggestions i.e. if you type George you will get suggestions for ‘Michael’ ‘Clooney’ and ‘Harrison’, among others. For most people this is thought of as a time saving and expeditious tool to make online searching even easier. However, for others it can actually lead to some of the worst online defamation.

Let us not beat around the bush. London does have the label of being the number one city for bringing libel proceedings; this has in turn earned it the reputation of being the capital of ‘libel tourism’.

However in my opinion, many pundits has failed to mention the fact that many individuals and small companies are defamed on a daily basis and cannot afford not to defend themselves against these defamatory attacks. For such companies and individuals, their reputation is their biggest asset: it is their trust factor that helps them bring in and retain their client base.


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