In defamation case, Elon Musk will testify that "pedo guy" is a common South African phrase and not an accusation of pedophilia

Vernon Unsworth is one of the rescue divers who helped free the children who'd been stuck in a cave in Thailand; Unsworth made some pointed remarks about the disutility of Elon Musk's proposal to bring the children out in a miniature sub, to which Musk replied by publicly calling Unsworth "pedo guy" and "child rapist" and then daring Unworth to sue him. Read the rest

Disgraced ex-cop's bullshit libel case has nearly destroyed the newspaper that outed him for sexual predation of teen girls

In 2017, Carroll, Iowa police officer Jacob Smith resigned from the force after a disciplinary investigation regarding sexual encounters between Smith and teenaged girls. Read the rest

Far-right Australian billionaire demands $500k and a vow of silence from a satirical vlogger

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has earned a reputation for being...colourful. Read the rest

European legal official OKs orders that force Facebook to globally remove insults to politicians like "oaf" and "fascist" (as well as synonyms)

Austria has incredibly broad libel laws -- so broad that they prohibit disgruntled voters from calling politicians "oafs" or "fascists." Predictably, this gave rise to a legal dispute between an Austrian politician and Facebook, when the former ordered the latter to remove a comment containing these two insults, and the whole mess ended up before the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU -- a person whose decisions are not binding, but are incredibly legally influential. Read the rest

Alex Jones falsely accused a guy of being the Parkland school shooter, so now he's being sued for more than $1,000,000

Self-described roaring performance artist has a simple business model: he spouts outrageous lies to bring in an audience, then sells them quack remedies whose market has been proven by Gwyeneth Paltrow. Read the rest

Former White House spokesman Anthony Scaramucci threatens to sue kid who criticized him

Instafired White House mistake Anthony Scaramucci took exception to being insulted in an opinion piece in the Tufts student newspaper. So he threatened to sue its author, bringing upon himself instant if entirely predictable injury.

Scaramucci wasn’t backing down as he took to Twitter into the night to blast anyone criticizing his legal action threats.

Scaramucci is a member of the advisory board at Tufts’ Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy. A Fletcher student tweeted, “Oh wow. An advisor to our institution, Scaramucci is threatening to sue both my classmate and our student newspaper. Honestly, I came to the U.S. hoping that I would not deal with this kind of things, that are so common in Russia.”

Scaramucci fired back, writing, “This is a dishonest tweet. I asked for an apology. Plain and simple. In our country defamation comes with its consequences.”

Ken White inflicts a papality.

Lieberman's letter on behalf of Scaramucci is frivolous, thuggish, and an example of the modern trend of people with money believing that they should be protected from criticism through abuse of the legal system.

As I've discussed here many times before, only provable statements of fact can be defamatory. An opinion that does not imply a provably false statement of fact cannot be defamatory and is absolutely protected by the First Amendment. ...

Scaramucci's letter is vexatious, meritless, dishonest, and thuggish. A decent lawyer would not draft it and a decent man would not have it sent on his behalf. It represents the growing trend of the wealthy leveraging a broken legal system to suppress criticism.

Read the rest

John Oliver dared a coal exec to sue him, and now he's being sued

Last week's John Oliver segment on Robert E. Murray, CEO of the coal mining Murray Energy Corporation, noted that Murray had a history of litigation against his critics in the news media, including the New York Times, and predicted that Murray would go on to sue Oliver (Murray's lawyers had sent Oliver a letter warning him about this possibility, and promising to pursue litigation to the nation's highest courts). Read the rest

Downticket Republican candidates threaten libel suits over TV spots tying them to Trump

Five Republican Congressional candidates -- Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) -- have threatened broadcasters with libel suits over Democratic campaign ads that tie the men to their own party's presidential candidate, millionaire Donald J Trump. Read the rest

Trump wants America to be like England, "where you can actually sue if someone says something wrong"

Trump wants to end criticism of Trump. But more than that, he wants to silence the women he boasted about groping.Specifically, he wants America to be more like England, where "they actually have a system where you can sue if someone says something wrong." Read the rest

Constituent silenced by spammer-turned-UK Tory party chairman was telling the truth

Grant Shapps, the spam kingpin who moonlighted as UK Tory party chairman and then an MP, sued a constituent who accused him of working for his "marketing" company after taking office. Read the rest

British libel law becomes marginally saner

At last, a tiny piece of good news for free speech from England and Wales: the Defamation Act 2013 goes into effect tomorrow, and will make it substantially harder for rich, powerful people to sue their critics in the UK. The new law requires that plaintiffs show "serious harm" in order to bring a suit. It also protects academic and scientific publications (an important issue since the British Chiropractic Association sued Simon Singh for publishing a critical scientific review of chiropractic). It adds a defense on the basis of a good-faith belief that publication is in the public interest.

Perhaps most importantly, it tightens up the "libel tourism" rules that allowed corrupt overseas dictators and oligarchs to sue news outlets based outside the UK in a UK court, merely by showing that someone in the UK read the disputed article; and it establishes a "single publication" rule to stop publishers from being sued multiple times over the same disclosure.

However, Northern Ireland has not adopted these reforms; English PEN's Jo Glanville points out that this creates a huge loophole for people who want to bring baseless libel claims in the UK -- they can just sue in an NI court. Read the rest

London libel case sought to silence journalist

"English litigation is a long and costly process that could almost have been designed to bludgeon a defendant into submission." — Nature writer Quirin Schiermeier, who recently prevailed in a characteristically insane U.K. libel action. Read the rest

You Can't Read This Book, new book on the ugly truth of English libel law

The Guardian published a long excerpt from Nick Cohen's forthcoming You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom, a fantastic-looking book that reveals the dirty truth of English libel law, where "money buys silence" for some of the world's most notorious dictators, thieves, and bad guys. English libel law is so broad that it allows, for example, Russian oligarchs to sue Russian newspapers for punitive sums ("the cost of libel actions in England and Wales is 140 times higher than the European average") in an English court, merely by demonstrating that someone, somewhere in England looked at the paper's website. And yet, the libel law in England and Wales doesn't actually protect people from the most common forms of libelous publication: false declarations of criminal suspicion by the police, false claims of financial irregularities from credit reporting bureaux and false statements in former employers' reference letters are protected unless they can be shown to have been malicious and negligent.

The book doesn't appear to have US distribution, but there are some importers selling it on Amazon's US site, too.

In 2006, reporters on the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet decided to investigate the stunning rise of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, which was buying assets across Denmark. How, they asked, had a bank from a volcanic island without the resources to support a huge and voracious financial sector become so powerful? The newsdesk decided they should concentrate on the links between the bank, Russian oligarchs and tax havens. Kaupthing was furious.

Read the rest