Bercow lost

(93 Posts)
Xenia Fri 24-May-13 15:53:11

Not a good decision for free speech.....extends innuendo a bit far in my view so I suppose she might appeal.

www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2013/1342.html

MiniTheMinx Fri 24-May-13 16:02:40

Looking at the third para,
3)

Is that the actual tweet, is that it?

I wouldn't know what Bercow meant or intended. Making a huge assumption surely that other people would read that as she intended, however has it been proven what her intention was confused

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 24-May-13 16:04:37

Very dubious ruling indeed, I'm shocked, frankly.

I hope she does appeal, our libel laws are ludicrous enough.

Xenia Fri 24-May-13 16:11:28

I always thought it could go either way (I am afraid I have not had time to read the judgment on my link).

In general I'm in favour of freedom of speech even when it's people criticising me on line as believe it or not they sometimes do.

BlueberryHill Fri 24-May-13 16:12:55

I think it is a good decision, it was a defamatory text, essentially she repeated a libel, linking someone with being a paedophile is an exceedingly unpleasant thing to do. Putting innocent face at the end compounds it and isn't a get out clause.

I don't see why it impinges on free speech, what she has said or implied has always been libellous. Free speech doesn't mean that you can say what ever you like with no consequences.

Hopefully if will make people think before tweeting.

TheCrackFox Fri 24-May-13 16:14:37

I think it is a dodgy ruling too.

squeelybean Fri 24-May-13 16:14:45

I'm another one shocked at the ruling.

She asked a question then put the slight innuendo on the end which is exactly what a lot of the political satirical TV programmes do on a weekly basis except they use speech and facial expressions instead of the written word.

I hope she appeals.

larrygrylls Fri 24-May-13 16:27:23

It is a clearly good decision. I think Lord McAlpine's barrister explained the innocent face as the equivalent of a nod and a wink. It is exactly that. There was clearly a suspected paedophile out there and she pointed everyone reading her blog to search his name just at the time when it was being linked to this.

This has nothing to do with Xenia (i.e her pseudonym) being criticised online or the idea of political satire. This tweet clearly links someone in the public eye with what is regarded as one of the worst crimes when he was actually entirely innocent. Her defence that her tweet was an innocent observation was clearly ludicrous in that it was not even mentioned by her or the media as a reasonable defence until the trial. In fact she apologised four times after making the tweet, hardly in line with her defence of innocently wondering why he was "trending".

You just cannot go around accusing an innocent man of being a paedophile without expecting some consequences.

larrygrylls Fri 24-May-13 16:28:13

Free speech has never been understood to allow libel so I have no idea what this case has to do with defending "free speech".

choccyp1g Fri 24-May-13 16:38:18

What does "trending" mean in a twitter context? Is it being mentioned a lot in other people's tweets or your own tweets being popular?

BlueberryHill Fri 24-May-13 16:40:27

Hope I have linked it OK, but this is a great example of free speech being defended, and upheld, when someone has tried to use libel laws to suppress it.

www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/apr/15/simon-singh-libel-case-dropped

larrygrylls Fri 24-May-13 16:42:10

Blueberry,

Absolutely agree, although not quite sure of the link to this case?

BlueberryHill Fri 24-May-13 16:45:28

None to this specific case, but in defending himself, at considerable financial risk, Simon Singh stood up for free speech against someone using libel laws to suppress it. I don't see the Bercow case as someone trying to stand up for free speech at all. Just as someone repeating something libellous and then trying to wriggle out of it.

Xenia Fri 24-May-13 16:45:35

Trending means lots of people elsewhere on twitter are mentioning Mr X.

I think she has said she will not appeal and it seems to be saying in the news that she has settled (the amount). She made an offer before the trial so I wonder on what basis the settlement is as it did not proceed to the damages bit of the case so we cannot know if her original offer amount was bettered or not.

larrygrylls Fri 24-May-13 16:48:28

"As the case unfolded, Mrs Bercow's QC, William McCormick, had argued that the phrase "innocent face" was merely an indication that the tweet should be read in a deadpan manner, comparable to stage directions or notation on a musical score.

But Lord McAlpine's barrister, Sir Edward Garnier QC, said only "a moron in a hurry" or an "anchorite in a sealed cave" would have been unfamiliar with the context in which the tweet was published."

I think Sir Edward Garnier put it perfectly. How many people took the "innocent face" to be "as a stage direction" as she claimed? I would suspect almost none.

Xenia Fri 24-May-13 16:54:23

Very funny. I like his words.

GibberTheMonkey Fri 24-May-13 16:56:32

Does he not realise a lot of people find the term moron offensive?

If it was trending did they take all the others to court too?

Roshbegosh Fri 24-May-13 16:59:47

IMO She is a hideous women in the media all the time because of who she married, she is no one in her own right, maybe she will give us all some peace now.

fedupofnamechanging Fri 24-May-13 17:04:43

I think the ruling was correct. She implied that an innocent man was a paedophile, with nothing to substantiate that implication. It's the most serious thing you can accuse a person of being, so she shouldn't gave done it so carelessly.

Hopefully she will learn to engage her brain before being so gobby in future!

limitedperiodonly Fri 24-May-13 17:06:48

What's the free speech argument xenia?

She said: 'Why is Lord McAlpine trending? Innocent face.'

If she'd have stuck with the first bit she probably wouldn't be looking at a six-figure bill. But I'm not a lawyer. You are, but I don't think this is your area of expertise. However, I'm a journalist and it is.

I agree with Tugendhat that the addition of 'innocent face' would be construed by most people as suggesting guilt.

I don't know whether it's part of his judgement but I'd say that given Sally Bercow's perceived position as an insider that people would give it more credence to that groundless accusation.

The lesson is that people should be careful about what they write online.

I welcome that, because I'm fed up with following the rules yet seeing people here and elsewhere bleating: 'But we're only talking about something in the news' when they grossly libel people for idle entertainment.

I like Sally Bercow. But she is reckless and McAlpine is belligerent. One of the things you're taught in journalism is not to take on people with deep pockets who reach for their lawyers unless you've got something important to say.

WearsMinkAllDayAndFoxAllNight Fri 24-May-13 17:07:05

Gibber, "moron in a hurry" is a phrase famous among lawyers. It comes from an old case in which the Morning Star (worthy communist tract) tried to prevent publication of the Daily Star (breasts, booze 'n football) on the grounds of confusion.

Nothing unpleasant would have been meant by it.

Grammaticus Fri 24-May-13 17:08:08

Serves the silly woman right. She's a shameless publicity seeker who needs to learn to think before she speaks. Even this didn't teach her that lesson - she tweeted naming a minor in a case that was sub judice after it happened.

BlueberryHill Fri 24-May-13 17:08:18

Gibber he did pursue everyone who tweeted it. I cannot remember the exact details but he asked for payments to charity. The level of the payments were linked to the number of followers that someone had, I think it was £25 donation to a charity up to £25,000 for more famous tweeters. George Monbiot of the Guardian settled to do about £25k worth of work for charities.

hackmum Fri 24-May-13 17:12:41

I think Bercow was unlucky. When she made the tweet, she presumably thought she was just alluding to something that was true, rather than maliciously repeating hearsay. People already knew Newsnight was planning an expose about a Tory paedophile, and it was widely known that the subject of the Newsnight expose was Lord McAlpine - hence the fact that his name was trending on Twitter. I think most people would assume that Newsnight would be very careful to check its facts before broadcasting - though as we now know, they didn't.

BlueberryHill Fri 24-May-13 17:15:12

I welcome that, because I'm fed up with following the rules yet seeing people here and elsewhere bleating: 'But we're only talking about something in the news' when they grossly libel people for idle entertainment.

I agree with this, I hope that people think about what they write, it isn't the same as a conversation round a table in a pub. It happens too often and usually to normal people who have no recourse i.e. they don't have the money that McAlpine has. I'm glad that he has pursued people who tweeted it, people should be more responsible about what they tweet.

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