Has a UK blogger been sued ?

Last August I linked to a post where a blogger was being sued over comments left on his blog. I have no idea of the outcome (and can’t be bothered to search right now) but I was pondering what it would take for a UK blogger to be sued.
Example: If I worked for The Times, and I managed to get published a paragraph which stated that Jeffrey Archer has had sex with an inmate while banged up for his crimes, then the paper – and possibly myself – would be sued for libel. (Note: IF I said that. I didn’t. It was an example. Pretend.). So Mr Archer sues for libel. What he is suing for would be – I believe – a lie being published. A mistruth. A falsehood. (Mr Archer knows all about these too). What he is NOT suing about is the actual method of conveying that lie to the masses. He could argue that The Times had a circulation of X thousand which had caused him XXXXX embarrassment, but it’s the lie that counts.

What if I said it ?

I ping pingoat which pings other sites which means the potential readership of something I write is at least comparable. (Potential, not actual) (Though in fact, me doing it is worse. I can be more easily linked to.) So what if I said the same thing about Mr Perjury Archer ? Why not sue me ? The argument “Mark is skint so why bother” is – while very true – a wrong one because leaving the lie here amounts to permission to publish that lie elsewhere doesn’t it ? Example: I publish a lie in this post about Mr Archer. Whether or not he sees it is immaterial – it exists. In 6 months time, The Times also publishes that precise lie (does the source matter ?). Archer says he will sue and starts proceeding against The Times. At some point before judgement, my post comes to light. What happens then ? If he continues to sue The Times he would also have to sue me because my lie is equally a lie. Or does he sue them and then they sue me ? (but for what ? we both lied).
Is there – or will there be – a defence of “It was blogged before” because at the root of a libel is the lie – not the money (apparently). If there could be – because like all things it would need to be tested – then why don’t journos and the likes start blogging lies as a cover ? Is a blog sueable ? Or are some blogs more equal than others ? Example: If I wander around my village tomorrow handing out leaflets claiming the above about Mr Archer, someone involved in politics would hand it on, make a noise and something would happen. That sort of “something will happen” is what stops most of us from doing things – the unknown of the law in such cases. But something would happen I am sure. But what if I publish it online and take the url around to that person’s house ? If they passed it on, what would happen ? I suspect nothing would.
Because this is just a blog. So why sue a little blog over a lie ?

But if a lie is a lie is a lie then not suing is either admitting that the lie is a truth OR that the lie is not worth bothering with. But if it’s not worth bothering with when I say it, why is it worth suing a newspaper ? Money. Not the lie. Money.

Which means I am unsueable doesn’t it ?

2 thoughts on “Has a UK blogger been sued ?

  1. Money yes, AND publicity.

    Your potential readership might be higher, but it’s not ACTUALLY higher. And even so your.. er.. reputation isn’t the same as The Times (well.. you know what I mean).

    Therefore it’s also about the ammount of damage an established newspaper with a (deserved or not) reputation can do by publishing vs a blog.

    Also it’s about “is it worth the effort?” Many blogs get sent the usual “omg scary lawyer” letter as a threat, as it is a cheap way of trying to intimidate someone to take something down (and if it is libel then they probably would). What if someone stands up to it as the bullshit it usually is? Well then you either have to take the blogger to court.. or admit it was bull.

    So sometimes its about money only, but often I’d say it’s about saving face… and how much effort that is worth is sometimes an individual thing.

  2. I’m facing just that right now. Some burk who I called out for black hat SEO has gone the rude email followed by rude solicitors letter. The question is not can I prove he is a bad SEO and a dodgy investment but can I be bothered with the hassle? Do I put some cynical “thought police” message where the post was or do I stand up for (UK) bloggers rights? If it went to court and I one it would be good for us all but if I lost it would be VERY bad for us all (in the UK, in my opinion).

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