A landmark legal ruling ordering a woman to pay £10,000 in damages for defamatory comments posted on an internet chatroom site could trigger a rush of similar lawsuits, a leading libel lawyer warned today.I think Libel laws need reform, and likewise Australia's Defamation regime. But I'm not at all convinced of the argument that somehow the internet should be exempt from rule of law:
Michael Smith, a Ukip activist who stood for the Portsmouth North seat last year, became the first person to win damages yesterday after being accused of being a "sex offender" and "racist blogger" on a Yahoo! discussion site.
Mr Smith, 53, from Fareham in Hampshire, sued Tracy Williams, of Oldham, for comments posted after she joined a rightwing online forum in 2002.
Demon argued the case could affect the entire ethos of free speech on the internet.Maybe, but maybe people shouldn't provoke such intrusions into our 'free speech' by calling people paedophiles, either.
I'll stop using faux old English in my titles soon.