Friday, 17 July 2009

The Law is a kind of donkey

Biased BBC is very upset that the Beeb has settled a libel case against Question Time, brought by the Muslim leader Dr
Muhammad Abdul Bari. Dr Bari was accused by a Question Time panellist, the former editor of the Telegraph, Charles Moore, of encouraging Muslims to kill and kidnap British soldiers. Dr Bari had actually spoken out against the killing of British soldiers in 2007. Undaunted, Biased BBC readers are quick to interpret Defamation Law in fascinating new ways:

Biased BBC's legal eagle Ed T asks: "what about laying down the reasonable expectations a Briton should have of (Dr Bari's) Muslim Council of Britain and then see if the actions of its leadership correspond to the level of support for British troops that could be expected? I don't think they do."

Perhaps this could be enshrined as the Ed T defence in future law books.

Defamation is boringly described in the existing law libraries as words lowering the reputation of an individual.

Ed T's is so much better - in future courts will "
lay down the reasonable expectations a Briton should have of" the claimant... and then presumably tell them to bugger off because Charles Moore thinks they should behave as he sees fit.

A few bugs need ironing out, but it's a runner.

Dave s is after a career as a QC: "I thought English law was specific in that to libel you had to specifically name someone and that your statement was untrue."

Too true. Libel law should be what we think it is.

And not the variety actually judged in the courts where the concept of Group Defamation is well established, meaning that you can sue if the libel applies to a specific group of people, one of which is you.

The BBC should have applied
our version of the truth, which is to shout loudly that Bari must be guilty of encouraging attacks on British troops, even though he'd actually condemned such attacks.

Frankos feels the BBC over-looked the obvious way out: "If the BBC (and our pocket) is take personal responsibility for every contentious comment or opinion voiced on these programmes we might as well end all free speech."

Blimey! Why didn't al-Beeb's lawyers think of that one? Of course... libel claims go away if only you say you're exercising free speech!

"The BBC should have stayed out of this entirely to avoid any controversy."

Genius! When Carter-Ruck's writ arrived pointing out that as the BBC had published Moore's remarks, they were guilty of libel, all the BBC had do to was say: "We're staying out of this one..."

Carter-Ruck would have gone away. Tail between legs. Whimpering all the way back to EC4. Last we'd have heard about it.

If we ever do end up being sued for libel, make sure we call frankos first!

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