Libel versus Liberty

So now the writs are flying, according to the news. The BBC has already coughed up £185K to soothe the troubled temple of a certain Tory grandee, following his roller-coaster ride from obscurity to infamy and on to vindication. That strikes me as pretty good deal. I’m sure I’m not the only one jokingly wishing the BBC would slander me.  On the downside, it would mean a week hiding from the peasantry, but no more mortgage worries.

McAlpine’s lawyer is laying it on thick in the Daily Mail.

He also warned that other tweeters, even those who deleted their accounts or messages, will be contacted so should come forward. He added that it was time to clamp down on Twitter, which allowed people to say ‘vile, disgusting’ things. ‘We have been inundated by the public who have wanted us to deal with this problem of Twitter, and have encouraged and in some cases have actually offered us funds. ‘Twitter is not a place where you can gossip and say the nastiest things possible with impunity,’ he said.

One irony in this is the invocation of the mob, turned round from witch-hunting stars from the ’70s, and now, apparently, ready to tar and feather the deviants of Twitter. Expect a lot more of this, as we get bludgeoned with moralising speeches from the political class, about the need for responsibility which comes with the bare scraps of liberty they permit us. Speaking for myself, I need no lessons in morality from Tory politicians. Besides they are not interested in personal responsibility, but rather the opposite; authoritarian control of what can be said, and now, with the law an absolute dog’s breakfast, no one, neither the judges nor the people, has any clear idea what can be said or not said. In such circumstances, where arbitrariness and randomly selective enforcement reign, and the most ludicrous prosecutions are pursued to the highest courts, the likely result is self-censorship and a diminution of free expression for ordinary people. It may (still) be possible to say something outrageous if you are a well-known comedian, this may protect you from legal violence. The rest of us are not so well defended.

I shall re-iterate my one-man campaign slogan: Abolish the libel laws! I wonder if Sally Bercow would be interested in getting onboard?


  1. Can’t login via Twitter: Jetpack problem?

    The Jimmy Savile stuff has really brought home just how irrelevant Leveson really is. It seems that the media – online and offline – were gagged a long time ago by defamation law.



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