Great response to Lord McAlpine suing on Twitter

(107 Posts)
StewieGriffinsMom Wed 21-Nov-12 09:49:37

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StewieGriffinsMom Wed 21-Nov-12 09:50:00

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namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 10:04:25

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slug Wed 21-Nov-12 10:31:49

McAlpine's response is really unhelpful. By posturing and declaring that being accused of child sexual assault is "the worst thing possible" he does the victims immense harm. Eh? If being accused is the worst thing possible, then, by definition, the victim of the actual abuse is less of a victim than the powerful man.

It's the same tactic that is used to silence women when they accuse someone of rape. E.g. Rape is a horrible crime, to be accused of it is to blacken the name of innocent men who are guilty of poor sexual etiquette at best therefore the woman must be lying.

It's all shades of silencing the victims in order to direct the sympathy to the true victims, the men.

I don't understand why this blogger wouldn't apologise if they had retweeted a tweet or tweets naming him as a paedophile, as they say in their article. They say they would examine the context, but surely, even if they genuinely believed that the accusations were true when they retweeted them, once they knew the accusations were untrue, and knowing what harm such accusations can do (lynch mobs, mud sticks etc), they would apologise. Anyone can make a mistake, but a decent person apologises when they find they've made a mistake, don't they?

Whilst it cannot be compared at all with the pain of the abuse these children suffered and continue to suffer, being named as a paedophile is a pretty horrific thing to happen to an adult, and I would be sickened, horrified and furious if I were wrongly accused. If I had the resources at my disposal to sue those who had defamed me that way, I would seriously consider it.

Should Lord McAlpine just have accepted these accusations without turning a hair? Wouldn't that have made people think that there must be some truth in the accusations, if he wasn't fighting them tooth and nail?

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 10:32:58

Actually, reading that back, the first paragraph doesn't say what I meant. I am not torn because I believe a Tory should be fair game for child abuse allegations. I am torn because freedom of expression and freedom within the media to expose wrongdoing is a very precious thing. Unfortunately, this precious thing is too easily abused by those too dense or too spiteful to see the harm they are doing.

Yes, he was wrong to say that being accused of being a paedophile is the worst thing that can happen to a person - but I suspect is is the worst thing he can imagine happening to him now.

Would anyone on here be happy about being incorrectly accused of being a paedophile? Would you, if incorrectly accused, not want to do everything possible to clear your name? Or do you genuinely think Lord McAlpine should have accepted all the mudslinging and the destruction of his reputation, for the greater good?

mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 10:36:07

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namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 10:41:06

Slug, that is one hell of a leap. Anybody who is wrongly accused of a crime has the right to do everything in their power to clear their name. I would. Your link to silencing seems to miss the point that he did not molest children. You seem to have jumped from the position of an innocent man to the position of a guilty rapist.

His wording may have been wrong and clumsy, but how would you feel in his position? How would you have handled it differently, wording aside?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 21-Nov-12 10:52:05

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namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 10:55:31

He certainly could have handled it better, but I would suggest that the greater amount of harm to survivors of abuse was committed by the accuser. Where are his responsibilities in all this? How did he arrive at his conclusion, or are we supposed to gloss over this?

What should Lord McAlpine have done, SGM? Issued a polite denial and let the accusations (by which I mean repetitions of the original accusation) carry on trending on Twitter? Accept the damage to his reputation, and the fact that people would believe the accusation because surely an innocent person would make more fuss?

What would you do if wrongly accused of being a paedophile?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 21-Nov-12 11:07:36

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namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 11:12:33

So are we happy with social media as it is currently used? Should users ever be brought to account for misuse, as they would in the printed media? Or do we apply different rules? Should racist and sexist abuse be ignored as well?

Aboutlastnight Wed 21-Nov-12 11:21:06

FGS of course he should bloody sue. He was libelled. He has a right to clear his name and for recompense. Journalists have to pass law exams on libel to ensure this sort of thing does not happen although some seem to forget it as soon as exam is finished and people using focual media should be aware and subject to the same restrictions as journalists.

Aboutlastnight Wed 21-Nov-12 11:22:15

A d racism and sexism does not fall into the legal definition of libel. Hate speech is a criminal matter.

Is he going after the man who named him, though, SGM? Because if he is, that would be entirely wrong - the man made an honest mistake and admitted it as soon as he realised. But I thought Lord McA was just going after the people who had named him as a paedophile on Twitter - and to be honest, I think those people need to learn the lesson that you can't just say whatever you want on social media - you do have to think about the consequences.

MrsCampbellBlack Wed 21-Nov-12 11:28:33

I agree with you SDTG - and when his lawyer was interviewed on R4 it seemed what they really wanted was apologies and for people like Sally Bercow to think before they tweet.

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 11:33:49

Aren't LMcA's legal team asking for people to come forward before they resort to legal action, if they were invovled in the Twitter campaign? I thought they were looking for an apology and a small donation to charity, rather than suing idiot Tweeters out of house and home?

That side of LMcA's actions seem both fair and proportionate.

SpringierSpaniel Wed 21-Nov-12 11:51:52

IMHO it is disappointing but not exactly suprising in todays "I have rights but I conveniently forget about my equally important responsibilities to society" way of thinking to see that people are now using the smokescreen of "Lets not forget about the victims of child abuse, they are sooo important, it's terrible what they have suffered" to muddy the waters over their shameful online directing of potentially pitchfork wielding "kill the paedo" nutters to the (wrongly, as it happened) accused old man.

I consider myself a reasonable individual and I personally had interpreted what Lord McA has expressed as him having been the victim of the worst possible accusation, not the worst possible life experience a person can suffer.

All the "but what about the suffering of the victims of child abuse" is smokescreen bullshit used by those who want their stupidity forgotten as they are too arrogant to accept responsibility for their mistake and apologise for the harm they have done to an old man's reputation.

I support no one political party so, being detached from the politics, it is laughable to see that the rabid Tory haters can't bring themself to apologise to a rich Tory, regardless of whether they accept that they were very wrong to take part in an online paedo hunt.

Lord McA can, and should, sue each and every one of these twitterati. He will no doubt will donate the proceeds net of legal fees incurred to a suitable charity, he doesn't need the money but he does need to clear his name promptly (he is an old man, he hasn't got 30 years to keep a low profile and hope it might blow over and be forgotten, as if it ever would and why should he when he was wrongly accused). This way, the twitterati will hopefully end up paying for the establishment of case law to protect ALL OF US from such a possible incident in the future. In the long run we will all benefit from him suing everybody involved and in the short term...... at least Silly Berk-cow has been obliged to close her twitter account.

As soon as I heard about Lord McA threatening to sue people who had tweeted or retweeted his name, I checked that the dses hadn't done so. If they had, they would have apologised at once, and made an appropriate donation to charity as requested, out of their own pockets.

I should also say that I have a horrible feeling that it is the fact that Lord McAlpine is rich, Tory and a man that is making some people think he doesn't deserve to be angry or to take the action he's taking. I genuinely hope I am wrong, though.

Trills Wed 21-Nov-12 11:57:27

I heard that any money he gets, he is planning on donating to rape charities. Anyone know if this is true?

DuelingFanjo Wed 21-Nov-12 12:01:10

I have sympathy for him for what has happened, however I feel like it might be a good thing if the people who he says he wants to sue all say 'see you in court'.

I thought it was childrens' charities, Trills - I could well be wrong, though - my head is full of snot, and I am very hard-of-thinking today. sad

FellatioNelson Wed 21-Nov-12 12:01:43

Well short of losing an immediate member of your family or being terminally ill yourself (for which everyone gives you sympathy and understanding) I am struggling to think of very many things that are as bad as being wrongly, and very publicly, accused of being a pedophile. confused

DuelingFanjo Wed 21-Nov-12 12:02:49

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AnyaKnowIt Wed 21-Nov-12 12:07:35

I heard that the money will be going to children in need

I'll see if I can find a link

AnyaKnowIt Wed 21-Nov-12 12:09:02

Well - he hasn't said he intends to do so, Dueling - and given that he has been very upfront about his intended actions so far, I imagine he would have done.

I get the impression that, whilst he is horrified to have been incorrectly identified, his ire is directed at those who tweeted and retweeted the accusation. Maybe he sees that the identification by the man concerned, and the police force's acceptance of that identification were genuine errors, and that the police were right to believe the man concerned (in line with the We Believe You campaign philosophy).

The police acted on the information that they had available to them, and presumeably changed their actions once the information changed. That, to me, would show that it was a genuine error - though I don't know if they have apologised, without prejudice, to Lord McAlpine for the upset caused - which is what I would think was reasonable for them to do.

LimburgseVlaai Wed 21-Nov-12 12:15:43

I am genuinely confused about this and would be grateful for some help here:

I didn't see the Newsnight programme in question, but as I understand it Lord McAlpine wasn't actually named in the programme - they only said "a very senior Tory" or something similar.

Is that correct? If so, why is Newsnight in trouble? Wasn't it just that his name was bandied around on Twitter?

And where does that idiot on the breakfast programme fit in? The one who presented Cameron with a list scraped together from internet gossip and demanded an investigation? (name escapes me)

Sorry - I really am confused and can't find a straight answer on the BBC news site. Thank you for your help.

Aboutlastnight Wed 21-Nov-12 12:32:01

"I feel like it might be a good thing if the people who he says he wants to sue all say 'see you in court'."

Well lwt's hope they have the evidence to prove that what they tweeted is true - because that is what they would have to do.

Newsnight pointed viewers in the direction of Internet info that named mcAlpine - that is also libel, you can repeat libels and be sued, you can also libel someone by implication.

Aboutlastnight Wed 21-Nov-12 12:34:47

Also it was possible to see the names on the list Schofield presented to Cameron thus libelling those people as potential paedophiles.

Info provided by police as part if an investigation is privileged though so cannot be libellous.

DuelingFanjo Wed 21-Nov-12 12:51:57

"I didn't see the Newsnight programme in question, but as I understand it Lord McAlpine wasn't actually named in the programme - they only said "a very senior Tory" or something similar"

People have told me it was implied. Not sure how.

It's odd. The BBC pull a programme naming Jimmy Saville as a sex offender and everyone gets their knickers in a big twist about why they didn't show it.

Newsnight make a programme where they don't name a suspected sex offender and everyone get's their knickers in a big twist about why they showed it.

I DO think McAlpine's politics are relevant, though I sympathise with him, because it's clear that there is a very political campaign against the BBC and has been for several years. Is McAlpine a part of that? I don't know. It's all very interesting though.

I didn't know police information couldn't be libelous, it can be incorrect and ruin lives though.

grimbletart Wed 21-Nov-12 13:02:18

He worded that 'worst thing" sentence badly. If he had said that being accused of child abuse was the "worst accusation" that could have happened it would have been much better and entirely understandable.

However, if someone is libelled so badly I think it is perfectly OK for them to take action. And it would be great if he does then donate any compensation to appropriate charities.

I am glad, TBH, that that chattering idiots on Twitter who have no conception of/don't care about innocent until proven guilty and pass on rumour and gossip as fact should have to answer for what they said. I wonder how they would feel about being accused of child abuse? All they have done with their infantile tweetings is move the focus away from the real issue - child abuse and caused more pain for the victims, particularly Stephen Measham.

Bluegrass Wed 21-Nov-12 13:16:53

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mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 13:23:01

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Really? You really think Lord McAlpine did this on purpose, mignonette?

On a purely practical level, this sort of mud (paedophilia accusations) is the sort that sticks the most, when thrown, so using this as a way to discredit another person or people could backfire most hideously on the person using this 'ploy'. It would make no sense to use false accusations of paedophilia in this way - anyone sufficiently machiavellian to do this would surely also be sufficiently cunning to pick less inflammatory accusation - environmental damage by one's company, improper financial dealings, sexual impropriety with another adult or adults.

DuelingFanjo Wed 21-Nov-12 13:59:43

"DuelingFanjo - when you say that Lord McAlpine's politics are 'relevant', you don't mean that it is more acceptable wrongly to accuse a Tory of child abuse than a supporter of another political party?"

yes, you are correct, I don't mean that.

mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 14:01:37

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In the circumstances, that may not be the most sensible thing to say, mignonette.

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 14:12:00

My understanding was that the accusation was leaked on another programme by the founder of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism who co-oped on the Newsnight programme.

Aboutlastnight Wed 21-Nov-12 14:14:03

Ever read 'The Trial' mignonette?

Bluegrass Wed 21-Nov-12 14:14:20

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I am basing what I say on the facts I have read, Bluegrass. If you are aware of any corroborated or otherwise verified evidence to back up what you are implying, please post it or link to it.

mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 14:26:27

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OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 14:29:13

As an aside, can I point out that if requested, Mumsnet will cough up your details in a heartbeat if presented with the appropriate - and very affordable - court documents.

I'd recommend a degree of circumspection if you think you are making "oh so clever" posts. Extremely expensive silks may disabuse you of that notion.

mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 14:30:06

I'm not trying to be clever. I am asking a question.

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Bluegrass Wed 21-Nov-12 14:36:17

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mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 14:38:37

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Sally Bercow's question about why Lord McAlpine was trending on twitter is being considered as actionable, mignonette.

drjohnsonscat Wed 21-Nov-12 14:48:45

I don't think this is fair, really. If he's been accused of something he didn't do, he should have every right to make a huge song and dance about it. He's no more responsible to the victims of those terrible crimes than I am.

He doesn't have to become a lifetime campaigner against child abuse as a result - maybe he has other priorities. It doesn't make him any worse than any other person in the world. This is just not his battle.

It's a terrible thing and it's a terrible thing that's happened to him. I sympathise with him on this. Like I sympathise with the victims. Like I also sympathise with the people being bombed in Israel and Gaza. And the victims of the war in the Congo. And many, many other things.

Telling him he can't be upset about this and take action about this using his own words to describe how he feels is a bit the same as telling women not to worry about feminism - aren't there bigger problems in the world than the glass ceiling in a first world country? Not the point.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 21-Nov-12 15:08:34

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mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 15:12:19

Where was/is the follow through on the much larger issues? All of this is a convenient distraction from the real pain of those abused and vilified and a convenient distraction allowing the establishment to avoid being made to do anything about it.

TeiTetua Wed 21-Nov-12 15:21:43

I think it's pointless to compare the magnitude of two terrible things, being sexually abused versus being falsely accused of a crime. But the more terrible the crime is, the more terrible it is to be accused of it. So in that sense there's a rough linkage.

I am sure that the pain of being wrongly accused of being a paedophile or child abuser is real too. And someone who has been wrongly accused of paedophilia is going to take whatever action they can out of anger and hurt, not for any calculated reason of it being a 'distraction' from whatever.

namechangeguy Wed 21-Nov-12 15:25:14

Twitter responded to abuse directed towards Fabrice Muamba after he had his heart attack. He is not white. Twitter responded to a death threat levelled at actress Emily Atack, and she is not male. Can we please be accurate here. Saying they only respond to rich, white men is clearly not true.

As the wise old Chinese man in Gremlins said, with Mogwai comes much responsibility. It's the same for free speech. If we wish to continue to enjoy it, we must exercise great care in how we use it.

I can accuse David Cameron of molesting goats on Hyde Park Corner, but I sure as Hell better have evidence to back it up (disclaimer: he doesn't - it all takes place in his back garden grin).

Rich, poor, black, white, tory, labour supporter - I would be fucking well jumping up and down if my husband was going through this and you can guarantee if it were your husband you would be on here bleating about how he has been accused of a heineous crime of which he is not guilty. The poor man will have people looking at him suspiciously for the rest of his life.

grimbletart Wed 21-Nov-12 15:37:33

I often wonder why Twitter and Facebook are called social media, when anti-social media would be more apt.

Free speech is a privilege we enjoy in this society. Twitter and Facebook idiots only serve to threaten it by making it more likely that restrictions and censorship will be brought in in the future.

If you don't have evidence but just rumour and gossip Twitter idiots, then shut the fuck up. Your idiocy threatens to spoil social media for those who know how to use it responsibly.

Aboutlastnight Wed 21-Nov-12 15:42:04

There is freedom of speech as long as you can prove accusations against an individual are true...

CarpeThingy Wed 21-Nov-12 15:55:24

The victims of sexual abuse have indeed suffered something unspeakably awful. Yes, it is far, far worse than what has happened to Lord McAlpine. But he has also suffered something dreadful. The one thing doesn't cancel out the other, because Lord McAlpine did not cause the suffering of the victims.

Of course he had to deny it robustly, publicly, and repeatedly - and seek redress in case it happens to someone else as well.

And as for it being a "convenient distraction" - I am a proud feminist and very far from being a Tory. But there's no conspiracy here. The people who caused the distraction were the loudmouths who accused an innocent man without foundation, not the innocent man himself.

Bluegrass Wed 21-Nov-12 16:06:04

"If you don't have evidence but just rumour and gossip Twitter idiots, then shut the fuck up. Your idiocy threatens to spoil social media for those who know how to use it responsibly."

Grimbletart - of course to play devil's advocate "rumour and gossip" seems to be what everyone had on Savile and look where "shutting the fuck up" got us there. A man who had huge crowds of supporters at his funeral and was beloved by many as a children's entertainer turned out to be one of the most prolific sex offenders we know of.

If there had been some sensible investigation into the accuracy of the many rumours floating around about Savile for years perhaps he would have been punished while he was still alive. Instead he fronted it out and threatened to bring down anyone who was prepared to openly accuse him of anything. He may also have been protected by people who were complicit in his crimes.

I do worry that the full scale of the Savile affair is so embarrassing to so many people that they would rather it died quietly away, with just one or two sacrificial lambs put to the sword as a sop to public opinion before business as usual is restored.

Blistory Wed 21-Nov-12 16:07:47

For what it's worth, I doubt Lord McAlpine suffered from the allegation in the same way that the ordinary man in the street would. There's no doubt that his political, financial, social position protected him to a degree. Given the scale of the abuse in the Saville matter, I can't really find it in myself to get worked up about a temporary misunderstanding. Yes, those involved should apologise but there's an awful lot of rhetoric goin on that seems to be detracting from the real issue of child abuse.

Why would he suffer less, blistory? That makes no sense at all.

grimbletart Wed 21-Nov-12 16:14:28

Bluegrass: rumours and gossip was not all there was about Savile. There were witnesses who saw him abusing children. As far as I know no one on Twitter witnessed anything.

Savile went undetected because witnesses in real life did not speak up.

The people on Twitter are not interested in justice, but are like old women (or men) gossiping over a fence.

mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 16:18:35

I'm not on Twatter. Never have been. So do not know what the 'old women or men' (nice bit of ageism there) have been twattering about.

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 16:19:43

I dont think there is freedom of speech.
Plenty of people have come a cropper, through all sorts of laws that already exist.

Bluegrass Wed 21-Nov-12 16:23:03

Witnesses may not have spoken up, but there was nonetheless persistent gossip that went on for years of the sort that was eventually revealed to be true.

Of course we can't use that to justify "no smoke without fire", but we can still consider whether the rumours should perhaps have been looked at more seriously and with an appropriately critical eye.

Blistory Wed 21-Nov-12 16:24:10

Because if I was wrongly accused of something, I have the resources to deal with it, and let's face it, they're largely financial, social and political. Those resources do provide a right to reply that is not there for all.

It was wrong of him to be named as an abuser but look at how quickly the rebuttals came in over the media and how quickly his legal agents were able to act. It was over very quickly for him and whilst it may still have been distressing, his position does shelter him to a large extent. If he wants to use this as a platform to reform the use of social media, then I'm all for that but his agenda is purely personal, which is fine, but it means that I'm not overly interested.

grimbletart Wed 21-Nov-12 16:43:32

mignonette: As an elderly woman myself I have no hesitation in using ageism in that particular example. Observe fences and who tends to gossip over them. grin

mignonette Wed 21-Nov-12 16:46:15

Round our way the biggest gossips are the men in the local real ale pub- all 30-50 ish grin

Next up, teenagers.

Most of my older friends are too busy looking after 'offloaded' grandchildren to go near a garden fence....

Blistory - I doubt it is 'all over' for him already. His money and access to lawyers etc does not make him less of a human being or make him any less sensitive to the pain of such a vile accusation.

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 17:14:22

OneMoreChap, would MN have to "cough up" details by law?

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 17:17:01

He would suffer more not less by it because he is more in the public eye.

I believe his lawyers have sued no one yet.

Most people online and on twitter know they need to be careful not to libel anyone and it is good if they are being given a reminder.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 21-Nov-12 17:18:06

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EchoBitch Wed 21-Nov-12 17:26:31

Didn't mners get a warning over speculation about the man in the Jo Yeats murder case a couple of years ago?

That'll be why they issue warnings and delete questionable posts because they will also be liable by allowing libelous posts to stand.

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 17:33:51

After free speech kept coming up on MN, I looked more closely at the subject.
Each time someone was in the press for having been taken to court or arrested for something they had written on the internet whether on FB, twitter etc, I had a look at which law they were being prosecuted under.
After watching 4 times, they were subject to 4 different laws or clauses whatever. So I gave up looking.

Blistory Wed 21-Nov-12 17:34:22

SDT - not less of a human being, I agree but I do believe it's less of an issue than for someone less able to defend themselves. I haven't disagreed that it's a horrible accusation or that he's less of a person, just that he has a degree of protection afforded to him by his position. Do you seriously think that being white, male and upper class doesn't confer advantages ?

I am annoyed that so much time is being afforded to him when there are so many victims out there who have suffered in silence for years and without the resources to do anything about it.

TeiTetua Wed 21-Nov-12 17:45:16

Then again, when there's an accusation of just about any kind against a well-known person, it's guaranteed to be picked up by the media and people generally, and they'll be especially gleeful if it's someone in politics that they don't like. We might even look at this thread and see lack of sympathy for McAlpine for that reason! So you can say he's "protected" but at the same time, he's vulnerable too.

We nonentities are lucky. Nobody cares what we do.

Bluegrass Wed 21-Nov-12 17:50:59

I see MN are now deleting posts which state that McA is innocent, and also a post of mine which directly quoted words the man himself had written. I guess he was libelling himself.

Never before have I seen one man terrify so many people into complete silence about him or his past, even where comments are obviously not libellous. It is incredibly disturbing. He is untouchable.

EchoBitch Wed 21-Nov-12 17:54:32

The people showing of on twitter and FB are the ones who have diverted attention away from the children who most need it most.
Some were also prominent and influential people who should have known better.

The issue about McAlpine is a separate one but still an important one whereby people should not be acting as amateur sleuths online and 'innocent facing',all adding to suspicion and in my opinion not much less than online bullying.

I am no Tory,never have been but McAlpine deserves the same access to law as anyone else,the fact that he can better afford it is again another important issue.

It is possible to have sympathy for all victims of any crime,wherever they are on our scale of seriousness.

But if Lord McAlpine's case makes some people stop and think before they post then that has to be a good thing.

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 19:57:38

OneMoreChap, would MN have to "cough up" details by law?

Oh yes.
They'd be told that a criminal/civil action was being undertaken, they were being named and under a discovery process they'd have to disclose details, but see Terms of Use

You are solely liable for any damage resulting from your failure to obtain such permission or from any other harm resulting from User Content that you submit. You represent, warrant, and covenant that you will not submit any User Content that:

...impersonates another or is unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, obscene, harassing or otherwise objectionable;

Dh and I have been discussing it, and he thinks Lord McA should sue twitter too. I am not sure about this - I think twitter is the blank sheet on which people write their opinions - if something libellous is written on a piece of paper, it is the writer who is sued, not the producer or supplier of the paper.

I also think that suing twitter enables people to slip away from their personal responsibility for what they publish on social media.

I did outline this debate to ds3, and asked him if he thought I was right or dh was wrong, but he declined to make a choice! grin

What do you all think?

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 20:18:47

I would hope Twitter were a "passive wall" as one judge put it in relation to something similar.

And I agree with EchoB above.

I suspect LordA will not have to sue anyone and will simply take the few settlements people choose to pay and then leave it.

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 20:21:19

How would the abusive bit work?
Many posts on MN are personally abusive.
Is that why they are deleted by MN?

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 21-Nov-12 20:22:56

grimble, if the people who had witnessed Savile's abuse of children had spoken up, the chances are that he would have denied it and slapped them with a writ and told them to prove it. He'd have bullied and rewarded the abuse victims into corroborating what he was saying and destroyed the career and reputation of the accuser.

That's why they didn't speak up. Because they were silenced by his power and his influence.

I feel very sorry for Lord McAlpine and I must admit I'm a bit startled by the writer's declaration that s/he wouldn't apologise if s/he'd libelled him. But the main point the article is making, I feel is a really important one that needs to be made: that the sight of a rich and powerful man wielding the law to punish those who named him, because naming him carries more sanctions than abusing children, is a way of silencing abuse victims.

I've no doubt the silencing is unintentional, I'm sure he doesn't mean to silence them and has no awareness at all that that is the effect of what he said; but perfectly decent people who instantly talk about false allegations of rape as soon as rape is mentioned (because they don't know any better) also unintentionally silence rape and abuse victims every day. Every time we repeat rape myths, we do that.

It's not deliberate, but I think it should be recognised so that we can tell when it's happening. Because it is the culture of silence, that allows rapists to get away with rape. It was the silence that enabled Jimmy Savile to commit the crimes he did. And if the silence continues, nothing will change - rapists will carry on getting away with rape, men will continue to groom children to accept abuse without speaking out.

We have to find a way to break the silence. What Lord McA has done, while perfectly understandable and his legal and moral right, hasn't contributed to that.

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 21-Nov-12 20:26:01

That's a really interesting question SDTG. I tend to think of Twitter as a piece of paper as well.

Whereas I think of Facebook or Mumsnet as being more of a newspaper or magazine.

But I don't really know why I think of FB in that way, more of a venue than Twitter.

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 20:27:22

Never before have I seen one man terrify so many people into complete silence about him or his past, even where comments are obviously not libellous. It is incredibly disturbing. He is untouchable.

Problem is, whether the comments are libellous are not will only be tested in court. Libel lawyers make a great deal of money from this.

If you are possibly going to be named/sued... yes, you may well shut up or ice a few arsey comments on your extremely profitable forum.

I did suggest care, and I think MNHQ are being nothing but sensible.

Xenia Wed 21-Nov-12 20:28:29

There are ways people can post things without getting found out if they have half a brain although I would never condone breach of the law.

Also you can talk to friend or ex residents at your children's home and you can put things in ways that are not libelous. However you have to be careful when posting not to imply things which may be libelous too.

OneMoreChap Wed 21-Nov-12 20:29:48

I'll tell you what amillionyears. Why don't you ask MNHQ what their policy is, or even their Talk Guidelines.

amillionyears Wed 21-Nov-12 21:01:48

Thanks for the last 3 posts and links.

Bluegrass Wed 21-Nov-12 21:24:03

OneMoreChap - personally I think they are being cautious to the point of censorship. This forum is full of derogatory comments about 'slebs which are allowed to stand and yet I saw a post deleted on this thread which did little more than quote McA's own words.

He has effectively stifled any discussion about him even though a lot of people think there is quite a lot about him to be discussed (not all of it complimentary). Hopefully at some point people will start to stick their heads above the parapet again but perhaps understandably MN want nothing to do with it. I don't ever remember seeing an individual wield quite so much power against the media, and he's not even issued any claims yet.

Personally I was perfectly happy with everything I'd written, and I say that as a lawyer with more years' pqe than I care to remember (and my area is related to this issue, I don't spend my days conveyancing or writing wills). The whole situation is staggering, I'll continue to watch with interest (whilst offering no opinion about McA's past of course)

grimbletart Wed 21-Nov-12 21:25:32

Fastidia: I take what you say in your first paragraph although I personally think that if enough people had got together and spoken up to the powers that be at the BBC, the hospitals etc. the authorities would have been hard put to ignore it. The sheer volume would have forced them take it seriously. But of course we'll never know, because all the witnesses to his abuse abrogated their responsibility to the children.

What my different point was about Twitter and places like Facebook is that anyone can take any rumour about anyone and pass it on and millions will see it. They do it without evidence or proof. This time it was Lord M. Another time it will be someone else in the public eye. I call them anti-social media because they are a source of bullying, rumour, innuendo and grooming. Power without responsibility.

What's the saying "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

MiniTheMinx Wed 21-Nov-12 22:13:49

Twitter and Facebook only respond to these situations when it involves wealthy, white men. They never remove libellous and fallacious posts or ones which involve hate speech unless the victim has the wealth and the power to challenge them I agree on this point 100%

I haven't followed the whole thing very closely, I don't even know who these Twitterers.

One thing about this stands out to me. Not so long ago MPs were debating whether the media should continue to have the right to publish the names of men accused of rape and what has happened on that score? What happens to women to "make a false ID"? I guess they get the whole weight of the law thrown at them and they are never to be believed again.

I doubt the case of a women seeking justice for her abuse would have been taken up by the BBC.

I guess what I am saying is that, if you are a man, abused or accused you are ultimately to be believed. With or without incontrovertible proof. If you are a very wealthy man you can ensure that the media trial you receive will be brought to a swift and pleasing conclusion, whereas for anyone who lacks political or financial clout they will probably endure a media and a judicial trial like it or not, even if that trial is prejudiced by media intervention.

The other thing that seems very strange is that, thousands of people could be tweeting your husbands name all over the net and it might take some time for it to come to your attention. Lord McA was very quick to jump in even though the BBC hadn't yet aired and even in his opinion it must have seemed very unlikely they would actually report his name. Trial by media and the subsequent way in which he was able to threatened legal proceedings doesn't sit comfortably with me. At no time in the future will this man ever be mentioned in connection with child abuse. He has now much fuller protection from accusation true or false whether it be in the course of any police investigation or otherwise, than he might have had, had he not threatened legal action.

Can you imagine a poor man without political connections and wealth having that same protection? Can you imagine a women who made a false ID being sympathised with?

Aboutlastnight Wed 21-Nov-12 22:44:54

Well that's the law of libel. If you are prepared to take the risk and gave enough money to bear the financial cost then the civil law of libel is there for you.

Unless you are able to find a no win no fee lawyer, or have powerful friends prepared to back you, then libel is not an option for ordinary folk.

But that diesn't mean Lord McAlpine shouldn't due - he has every right to do so. And it certainly doesn't give an individual some sort of immunity in the future.

Aboutlastnight Wed 21-Nov-12 22:47:45

And I don't blame mumsnet for being super-cautious with this - remember Private Eye and Sonia Sutcliffe? That case nearly destroyed Private Eye.

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 21-Nov-12 22:49:21

I think McAlpine might have been connected with Scallywag going out of business. He mentioned in his interview that they had libelled him.

namechangeguy Thu 22-Nov-12 09:24:24

Isn't one of the lessons here simply that if you want to accuse somebody of something, a. gather your evidence, and b. get your facts straight.

Don't rely on rumour, innuendo and anonymity. That is a cowardly way to approach anything, and leads to abuse and the destroying of innocent people.

Another forum I am on insists on you registering a works e-mail - no hotmail/gmail etc. Does Twitter require any form of id like this?

Xenia Thu 22-Nov-12 09:50:13

Yes, things are not libel if they are true. I am sure we all bear that in mind every day. You cannot libel the dead but you might still have a problem if a difficulty is caused to their relatives

Nancy66 Thu 22-Nov-12 15:29:59

The blog is nonsense.

I support his action. Being accused of being a paedophile probably is the worst thing you can be accused of - worse than murder in some instances.

Lord M said in his statement that he had the utmost sympathy for the victims.

Bet people would be a lot more sympathetic if he wasn't a Tory

YNK Thu 22-Nov-12 15:45:36

I believe he is using the police to investigate his claims of libel. Shouldn't he be using the Italian police force and not ours, considering he is resident there and pays NO British tax whatsoever?

YNK Thu 22-Nov-12 15:48:53

Another useful ploy is the false accusation. First, create a situation where you are wrongly accused. Then, at a convenient moment, arrange for the false accusation to be shown to be false beyond all doubt. Those who have made accusations ….. become discredited. Further accusations will then be treated with great suspicion.

this is a quote from McAlpines 2000 book, 'The New Machiavelli'

We've already had that quote, back up-thread, YNK.

Xenia Thu 22-Nov-12 15:57:21

He has instructed solicitors. I thought they were probably acting on a no win/no fee basis but I might be wrong.

MiniTheMinx Fri 23-Nov-12 19:17:13

What difference does it make, if you don't use his title, that includes MR/LORD etc.

Under law the man is separate to the legal "person" when someone registers a birth, they register the "person" which is the legal representation of the man/woman, the two things are entirely separate. What difference does this make to libel law?

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