Friday, October 13, 2006

How DO you damage the reputation of a child killer?

Defo here, defo there.

Someone living a Floating Life in Surrey Hills asks:

Would my habit of from time to time referring to the Prime Minister as “The Great Grey Garden Gnome of Kirribilli House” be defamatory, or would I escape because a reasonable person would not thereby think any less of the Prime Minister than they did before?

Daniel celebrates an $11.3 US million defo win in the US, hoping it will lead to a clean up of the those inhabitants of the blogosphere

...who are so lacking in integrity, creativeness, and ideas for posts that they use their blogs quite often to attack and ridicule other blog publishers with whom they may disagree or who may do things differently to them...

On the last thread Legal Eagle asks if I've read ABC v O'Neill. In that case a convicted child killer is suing the ABC over a doco called The Fisherman. He got an injunction- a holding order preventing broadcast of the doco until the case gets to trial- but last month the High Court scrapped it, talking about free speech as they did so.

Back in law school they told us many of the best improvements to the common law came about when a little old lady or similar, heart-tugging party, came before the courts. Perhaps a convicted child killer who's trying to sue for defo comes into the same category?

The Chief Justice and the newest member of the High Court said (of the lower courts):

They failed to take proper account of the significance of the value of free speech in considering the question of prior restraint of publication,

...good, free speech gets an affirming guernsey...

and they failed to take proper account of the possibility that, if publication occurred and was found to involve actionable defamation, only nominal damages might be awarded.

In other words, how do you damage the reputation of a convicted child killer?

6 comments:

R H said...

I know someone who committed murder and was found unfit to plead. The latest order, among other things, says he may not be identified.

But anyway, if I questioned your professional competence at law -which is how you'd be expected to earn your living, then you could sue me because you are a KNOWN PERSON...And certainly known to other bloggers for your drunkeness at blog meetings. (Joke)

Armagnac Esq. said...

Probably, though seeing as I'm in fixed employment I probably wouldn't be able to prove much damage!

Drunkeness, likewise, would be completely defensible as 100% truth.

R H said...

Defensible as truth, yes. But is it in the public interest?

Drunken judges would say no.

kate said...

some might suggest drunkenness would aid one's legal repuation...

Daniel said...

And Kate, wouldn't you say that someone who uses initials or only a first name is deliberately hiding their real identity from the public for reasons that can only be guessed at (but are known to some)?

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