The journalist Dave Osler, contributor to Liberal Conspiracy and many other places, today won a libel case that had been brought by Tory (former Respect) activist Joannah Kaschke. Jack of Kent has a little bit of analysis of Dave’s case and was first to tweet the positive outcome. I am sure he and/or Padraig Reidy of Index on Censorship will report with a full analysis of Justice Eady’s ruling soon, but the analysis from Dave’s lawyer Robert Dougans of Bryan Cave (also Simon Singh’s lawyer) is that it sets a very good precedent for bloggers, and how much responsibility we take for wayward comments posted unmoderated on our websites.
I took some photos of Dave Osler and wellwishers outside the court (including another Liberal Conspirator, Paul Evans).
True, the last photo does show Dave sipping champagne (which might undermine his reputation as a staunch defender of the working class) but otherwise it is worth noting that both Dave and his partner looked relieved rather than happy. This case has taken three years to defend, and for much of that time he has had to defend himself. Months have been spent preparing a defence against someone who appears to be a vexatious litigant, time that could have been spent freelancing. Substantial costs are unlikely to be recovered, meaning Dave is severely out of pocket.
One of the Libel Reform Campaign’s recommendations is the establishment of a fast-track libel tribunal to deal with cases like this. Although Dave Osler has won his case, its another example of why the English libel laws are not fit for purpose.