Online defamation cases more than double thanks to social media

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Readers' comments (12)

  • Only a thin skinned buffoon would sue over some on-line comments.
    It would have the same effect as a celebrity taking out a super-injunction.

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  • Is that why London is known amongst Libel lawyers in the US as a "town called Sue". While all this litigation is probably good for English Libel lawyers its seems to "chill" free speech in England.

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  • "while all this litigation" - 16 cases in 12 months! Buffoon.

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  • "All this litigation"? SIXTEEN cases? That would keep one lawyer busy for a month. Tops.

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  • "Only a thin skinned buffoon would sue over some on-line comments."
    What if a small business is slaughtered by an online blogger without justification or evidence?!
    If a piece was published in a local newspaper to the same effect, litigation would be inevitable- as without it, it is likely the small business owner would be out of business. Why should it not be the case if sombeody does exactly the same thing online- but to an audience of millions, which would have a much more damaging effect than a publication in a local newspaper. They should have a legal redress for this surely!
    Similarly if an individual is defamed online without justification they should also have legal redress- surely that is what the law is designed to do. People should realise that online blogs, tweets etc can have a massively detrimental effect on a business or individual, without justification or evidence.

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  • Anon 9.17pm...
    Thanks for the A-level law student comments, but I was being tongue in cheek.
    Bless you.

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  • @ Anonymous 10.29 am
    For whose benefit was your so called tongue in cheek comment intended?
    It is rather hard to detect tone via on-line message boards so do not be surprised if your hilariously ironic comments are misinterpreted.
    Bless you.

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  • It's always fascinated me how people go OTT about things they write on message boards. That silly little defence of libel laws is a cracking example. If the lawyers really cared about the principles then they would do much more pro bono work around this area.

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  • I am a solicitor and recently sued for online libel in the High Court and lost. It did have a political element though as I will now explain.

    In 2009 I found that when I inserted my name into the google search engine up came a Norwegian newspaper article from 2006 with a ‘translate this page’ google facilitated link. It is a link that is an opt-in for the journalist in Norway, meaning he has to purposely choose the google translation facility to enable the article to be translated into English. I was named for the only time in 19 articles over a 12 year period and called “clearly mentally unstable” by a Norwegian police officer as I had been “harassing her”. Harassing her because I had called her a liar and a cheat on my website and on Norwegian newspaper blogs for her falsely stating in her so-called Witness Statement in 1997 (which I did not see for five years) that I had been a patient in a mental hospital - which progressed to a front page Norwegian newspaper article in 2005 stating that I had been a patient in a mental hospital in the UK for two whole years. I have never been a patient in a mental hospital at all and provided my family doctor’s letter in proof of this. The Norwegians had also labelled me by my religion, “a Muslim”, and it did not help either having a German mother. The front page article in 2005 was the catalyst for Norwegians to send me the sickest sexualised Islamophobic emails imaginable. The Essex Police Hate Crimes Unit at Harlow handed it on to Interpol London who sent it on to Interpol Norway. Interpol Norway took a year to say they will be doing nothing. I now wonder whether the July 2011 killer Hans Behring Breivik in Norway sent me one of those 2005 hate-emails which were all forwarded to the Minister of Justice, Knut Storberget, at the time. He said nothing. My opponent in my civil litigation was, ironically, a certified mental patient but the press never told their public this once. Her psychiatrist came to court to reveal all. But the Norwegian court judgements stayed silent on this important fact. A sanitised pro-Norwegian judgement ensued with all my evidence omitted. What was reported in the judgements in Norway was not an accurate record of what was pleaded. Twice I went to the Norwegian Supreme Court. My first lawyer in Norway missed the time limits to sue and was found in breach of professional conduct by the Norwegian Bar Association. The first newspaper article in 1995 called me the “Muslim man” nineteen times.

    I had become public enemy no. 1 in Norway by 2005 for highlighting on my website Islamophobic and other abuse in Norway. In those nineteen articles over 12 years in the mainstream Norwegian press all they ever called me was the “Muslim man” and “madman” and a “sex-terrorist” for disclosing my female opponent’s salacious sexual history. I was only named once - in 2006 and in some cases it took me years to find out that a front page story had been done on me. Not one newspaper printed my side of the story. The Norwegians so hated my website that their press abuse continued unabated. Now not being named makes it difficult to sue in Norway for libel but I tried and failed over there on a 1998 article in my defamation case. The case took six years from start to finish.

    When I complained to the ‘independent’ Norwegian Police Complaints Authority about being falsely accused by a female police officer of being in a mental hospital for two years or at all they declined to prosecute the police officer but decided that my website did indicate, as the police officer alleged, that I was “clearly mentally unstable.” When I asked them what exactly it was on my website that made me “clearly mentally unstable” there was no comment. The Norwegian police previously told me when my civil trial had ended in October 2003 that if I did not confess to my crimes of having a harassment website on Norway I would go straight to prison. I confessed under duress as I did not want to go to prison. They then let me go. The website stayed on-line as I did not have to return to Norway.

    In revenge for the huge success of my ‘Norway Shockers’ website the Norwegian journalist in question for the 2006 article purposely opted-in for the ‘translate this page’ link and all those current and prospective clients of mine searching my name found, in passable English, an article that labelled me “clearly mentally unstable” and as “harassing” a police officer.

    As a litigant in person I sued the police officer and journalist in the High Court in 2010 as the google translation was seen and downloaded here in the UK. I got judgement in default. The Defendants applied to set it aside and won as I could not show “substantial publication” of the libel and the High Court found they had no jurisdiction to hear my claim after all. The judge wrongly decided that the google translation facility was the responsibility of google. A big mistake there as it is established fact that the link is there at the behest of the journalist. Further, the English judge also found that as the Norwegian police had “rejected” my complaints about my alleged incarceration in a mental hospital then by my issuing proceedings here I was doing so to further “harass” the police officer. I was abusing the Court system. I read out all those unrepeatable hate-emails in the High Court which Interpol London had passed on to Norway. The judge made not one comment on this hate-crime in her judgement which came a week after the killings in Norway. Good Anglo-Norwegian relations were paramount it seems. And because I had “confessed” my guilt in Norway to my 'harassment' website then that was evidence enough that I was indeed in the wrong. So after three trips to Norway to litigate all of a sudden I made a complete U-turn to confess my wrongdoing did I? It was not a voluntary confession my lady – when threatened with prison for uttering mere words anyone would confess so as to get out of the country. Which newspaper in the UK labels a man only by his religion honourable lady judge?

    But get this. The City of London law firm’s solicitor and barrister who acted for the Norwegian government on behalf of the police officer argued that as my complaints to the Norwegian police over my alleged incarceration in a mental hospital and supposed mental illness were rejected then this was evidence enough that I was “mentally ill.” So much for any independent doctor’s evidence. But he who pays the piper calls the tune. It cost me £37,000.00 for the Norwegian government’s legal costs, summarily assessed. As I am not a litigator by trade I hardly knew how to help myself. Employing a libel solicitor and counsel would have been beyond my means.

    But the ‘translate this page’ link has mysteriously disappeared in the last fortnight and so the offending article is not automatically translated. I guess that the Norwegian government may have told the journalist that in these post-Breivik the killer times that it is not such a good idea to have Islamophobic abuse on the net anymore. A victory of sorts.

    Now where did I put my straightjacket nurse?

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  • What a ridiculous comment. Many lawyers carry out pro bono work- which may i point out they have no obligation to do. The law is a business as with every other working environment, the only difference is- law firms actually do try to commit to pro-bono work- give me an example of a bank, supermarket or retailer that do similar things?!

    Also, surely message boards on a site like "The Lawyer" are intended to stimulate intellectual debate on the particular topic- why else have one? Why else work and show interest in the law? Your opinion baffles me!

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