McALPINE LIBEL DEMANDS: Legal watchdog rules show Peer and lawyer on dodgy ground.

mcalpgrrrcropMcAlpine….bark, bite etc etc

The lawyers’ watchdog the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) takes a very dim view of certain practices when it comes to suing for libel. The Slog believes that anyone surveying the precedents and agreed practices involved would fairly swiftly reach the conclusion that Lord McAlpine and his legal creature RMPI are already in breach of some of them.

With the help of legal-eagle Sloggers, over the last week I have been poring over some cases of multiple-defendant libel actions, and observing major case precedents that are relevant to the list of ‘culprits’ being drawn up by Alistair McAlpine and Andrew Reid of RMPI.

One seminal case involves that of Smith v ADVFN, a City website which, as it happens, I use myself. The comment threads are usually, shall we say pretty lively, and a Mr Smith decided to sue on the basis that various threaders had defamed him. The methods used were challenged….and these extracts from judgement might give everyone interested in the McAlpine suits some serious pause for thought: (my emphases)

‘The strategy adopted by Mr Smith , aided by his solicitors, has been to try to pick off the “offenders” one by one by threatening proceedings for libel and by suggesting payments by way of damages and/or costs….and there is clearly the hope that they will collapse and comply with these demands at an early stage….At the very least it is possible to conclude, even at this stage, that the strategy of “divide and rule” is inappropriate…..This is especially so in libel proceedings….In particular, any distress and hurt feelings suffered would have to be compensated by reference to the totality of the publications and not on the artificial basis of the sum total of the impact upon his feelings by one individual publication; otherwise there would obviously be a significant risk of overcompensation.’

In turn, these extracts from a later Queen’s Bench judgement on the case are instructive:

‘…Meanwhile, the Defendants who appeared in person and those who made submissions to me in writing seek to maintain in some cases, there has been a suggestion that the individual claim should be struck out as having no realistic prospect of success…..It is obviously a relevant question to ask whether someone would have thought it proportionate to any legitimate gain to issue 37 sets of proceedings (with apparently more to come). If there is a genuine desire for vindication over any significant defamatory allegation, it is reasonable to suppose that this objective could generally be achieved by a more targeted strategy….’

‘….a significant number of actions were started, with more flesh to be put on the bones later, but that does not explain why nothing was done before that date…. I am asked to scrutinise these cases with particular care and to ask whether they actually represent, in each case, a genuine attempt to vindicate reputation.’

Much of this opinion is in effect referring back to SRA rules which state that:

‘Taking ‘unfair advantage’ refers to behaviour that any reasonable solicitor would regard as wrong and improper. That might include:

  • bullying and unjustifiable threats;
  • misleading or deceitful behaviour;
  • claiming what cannot be properly claimed;
  • demanding what cannot properly be demanded.

There can be no doubt that Andrew Reid’s initial remarks to the press contained thinly veiled threats along the lines of ‘it’ll be cheaper for you to settle now’. The Slog would argue that Lord McAlpine may have been deceitful about his family name, and how he was mistakenly accused, during a Radio 4 interview in November. There is further the matter of McAlpine’s book on the basis of how to manipulate the media, which does (to say the least) raise doubts about the sincerity of his statements at the time. The demands made against both the BBC and ITV were vague in the extreme – ’caused people to look at the internet’ and so forth. The remarks made by Philip Schofield in that regard also represent the truth, and action to both silence and or discipline him on that basis arguably represent a serious attempt to curtail freedom of speech.

The following actions are also deemed ‘offside’ by the SRA:

taking unfair advantage of an opposing party’s lack of legal knowledge where they have not instructed a lawyer;

using your professional status or qualification to take unfair advantage of another person in order to advance your personal interests;

taking unfair advantage of a public office held by you, or a member of your family, or a member of your firm or their family.

Point 1 would apply to almost every Tweeter targeted by McAlpine and Reid. Points 2 & 3 apply in relation to McAlpine’s unprecedented access to the media as a public figure and former holder of high office, and also Reid’s use of the RMPI website.

On this matter, I am in receipt of one opinion as follows:

‘In my view RMPI have taken unfair advantage of unrepresented parties in the conduct of their initial media campaign. It has made demands of money which would never be recoverable in a court of law and therefore are demanding sums unfairly and without quantifying them or even setting out what has been said to cause the complaint. The website demanding money is unfair pressure and taking advantage of the lack of legal knowledge of Twitter users. For example the RMPI website does not even advise people to seek legal representation which I think is the very least they should do.’

It is worth adding in addition, by the way, that the SRA strongly disapproves of solicitors collecting money for clients before Court action in libel cases – especially when the method involves what it calls ‘speculative invoicing’. This is, in the view of many observers, what Reid is already doing on his website. The legal site Solicitors from Hell for example notes:

‘Everyone will have heard about Mr Reid – the solicitor who is representing Lord McAlpine. He spends half his time on TV and radio discussing the litigation. Now he has taken the Twitter ‘libel’ tweets to a whole new level and is accepting apologies and money on his website: . This is against the principle of treating those who have been alleged to libel his client fairly – and arguably is a breach of the SRA code of practice. The likelihood is that Mr Reid has set up this facility because he is trying to steam roller people into making settlements when he knows any cases are likely to be dismissed in court as an abuse of process. His client has already received £310,000 from broadcasters and in this context it is difficult to see how the costs in pursuing individuals will further vindicate him and achieve meaningful damages.’

It would be hard to get a more definitively negative judgement than that….and reflects in its entirety the advice I was given several weeks ago – viz: the case will fall apart as soon as McScalpine & Greid are forced into a Court wherein sits a judge in possession of the majority of his marbles.

The SRA has in fact already received a number of complaints. No wonder Andrew Reid is “still hopeful” that a Court appearance can be avoided. In the case of the Sally Bercow action, the lady should be encouraged to go forward with the case, or force the dynamic duo to accept a simple apology without damages. This is a game of poker, but the Speaker’s wife technically looks on better ground than her accusers. I mustn’t encourage her, of course: it’s none of my business, and I’m not the one facing £50,000 worth of potential damages.

But I continue to believe that the two litigators would rather do anything  than face a judge. And although Alistair McAlpine currently has the media eating from his hand, the way he is conducting this matter could result in them biting that extremity before too long.

There are times, are there not, when you can see why bankers, globalists and ambulance chasers are so in favour of deregulation. Meanwhile, as this distraction from the main point continues, several MSM titles are now uncovering all kinds of dirt on the Estbalishment fiddlers still at large. Jimmies McAlpine and Savile may be dead, but this scandal is still very much alive.

Stay tuned.

51 thoughts on “McALPINE LIBEL DEMANDS: Legal watchdog rules show Peer and lawyer on dodgy ground.

  1. “I mustn’t encourage her, of course: it’s none of my business, and I’m not the one facing £50,000 worth of potential damages.”

    I completely agree with this, and so my remarks must not be taken as anything other than moral support – Go Sally!


  2. ‘Speculative invoicing’…. now there’s a business model for our times. So deliciously free from any real meaning or value, words can be so wonderful. “Open your wallets and repeat after me, help yourself.” You really would have to have sh*t for brains to fall for that one.


  3. Regrettably, as previously mentioned, the SRA is a set of bureaucrats seeking to expand their empire-and are not concerned for anyone’s good but their own.

    If a citizen believes he has suffered a wrong he i perfectly entitled to seek recompense. The first step is to suugest to the wrongdoer that he remedy the wrong/pay damages. That is what has been done by McAlpine’s solicitor. There is no “pre-request” hearing. Nor should there be-access to the legal process is a fundamental right of the citizen.


  4. ‘The strategy adopted by Mr Smith , aided by his solicitors, has been to try to pick off the “offenders” one by one by threatening proceedings for libel and by suggesting payments by way of damages and/or costs….

    Thats funny, because I have just finished watching a very interesting Panorama program about the Barcley Brothers, and that is pretty much the same tactic that has been used to bully the people of Sark and the journalist who has done the program,d.d2k


  5. Pingback: John Ward – McAlpine Libel Demands : Legal Watchdog Rules Show Peer And Lawyer On Dodgy Ground – 18 December 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  6. I have just speculatively invoiced messrs Reidsgreedling and McAlpen in the amount of £500,000 for taking the piss and generally behaving in a gombeen manner likely to alarm public morals. I feel so much better and can now put my feet up and wait for the cheque to arrive. Do I have any redress if they don’t pay up?


  7. Blackmail and extortion

    Blackmail is demanding something from someone and then gaining from this demand. The demand must be unwarranted and ‘with menaces’ – a threat from the blackmailer to do something for not agreeing to the demand. The threat doesn’t have to be something illegal and doesn’t even have to be true. An example would be demanding £200 from someone in order to refrain from telling the world of their past adultery, previous criminal record or adultery.

    There is a defence if the demand is made on reasonable grounds and the threat is a proper way to make the demand. This exists to cover those chasing legal debts such as banks when they send letters threatening repossession of a home unless they get paid.

    Extortion is similar to blackmail. It involves obtaining money, property or services from another through threats of physical harm: “pay up or else” is an example. Protection rackets are a form of extortion.

    Blackmail and extortion can range from the low level example given above, to cases involving political figures involved in bribery and organised crime. All cases are dealt with only in the Crown Court. The maximum sentence is 14 years.


  8. Well here’s hoping Prince McAlpine has bitten off more than he can chew. It strikes me as a bit strange that Mach the knife’s writings are held up as a philosophy for success as he himself failed in his ambitions, narrowly avoiding execution & ended his days in what he himself thought of as miserable obscurity. As did many tyrants, petty or otherwise.

    Here’s a trip down memory lane, a timewatch from 1993 – ` Memo from Machiavelli ` Lord MachAlpine is featured also Mrs T & a ferocious sheep. Seems so long ago :


  9. I saw that too, what a couple of shysters. No coincidence then that the DT just published a “survey” saying that the majority of the British public believe that Lord McA has been wronged and is justified in his persuit of the twitters.


  10. I’ll be hoping that the vast proportion of McAlpines £310,000 blackmail pot, (extorted from my BBC licence money etc., which I resent). gets swallowed up in Massive Legal Fees and Costs when he looses…..

    if he takes the Twitterers on one by one and starts loosing over and over again, that will really make my day…..I’ll get some decent Claret in to toast each and every victory !

    And if there was nothing left any more for him to pay Reid’s fees once the dust has settled……all the more exquisit ending to the matter.


  11. I wouldn’t be quite so quick to count my chickens, He is, after all a powerful man with powerful friends in all the right places, some may even be keen to see the Speaker’s wife humiliated. As we have witnessed here on many occasions, it’s not about the law being of the side of the righteous, more about how big an influence you can wield. I’m not sure that La Bercow has as much influence or, friends in high places, if he were to win against her….Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?
    Stranger things have been known, and, as the say, nowt so queer as folk.


  12. I know this will not make me popular-but until there is evidence otherwise, McAlpine (the Lord one, not the dead one) was defamed. He, like anyone else who has suffered a civil wrong, is entitled to monetary compensation.

    It isn’t a popularity contest -either what was said about him was true and provably so-or is wasn’t. Whether he is likeable or not, Tory, Labour, Nazi, Commie or even Satan himself is utterly irrelevant.
    Not the SRA, the Courts or even the Queen can defeat the legal case McAlpine has without proving that what was said was true.


  13. JW apart from the fact that it is downright extortion . I think his Nobble ness is digging a hole for himself.
    By suing so many will only inflame people by its sheer greed , sorry veracity and make him a hate figure (which is not hard) but also create the old smoke and fire routine.
    Its a bottom less pit (did i just say bottom?)
    As more ppl will just keep posting more stuff about him, king canute, can of worms , tsunami of blah..

    Maybe if he had had a quiet word with his family years ago then maybe the shitfan wouldnea happen.
    Hey but thats yer rich eccentrics for you.
    Well i am going to ask amazon for my £00.01p back that i paid for his book. As its a load of crap.


  14. Yes they can. But then lord grubby bags would have to show up in court, to which he will be challenged.,,and he doesnt want that does which in turn fuel more speculation and more chattering amongst the plebs and round and round it will go.


  15. No wrong, as I posted here already, if lord whstever his name is doesnt put in an appearance in the courts ppl are gonna wonder why. More speculation and more twittering, then someone will ask if he will go after them, if so then it will be crazy and he and reidy will look more of an extortionist.
    Which will fuel even more speculation etc etc.

    The old david and goliath double act.

    Now either the lottery people will pay him off using the lottery players money, or as its better known by its other name ‘the public purse’ or they will start building large prison camps or work camps which ironically will fit the govt latest agenda, just look out for G4S doing a huge recruitment drive and witnessing lots of McScalpine construction lorries whizzing up and down the motorway snd lots of land being designated.


  16. Yeah he will have to sell off his ‘unusual’ art collection to get some spare cash, maybe he knows a few ppl with a penchant for immature ladies sans clothing who might want to distribute sorry put into a fine arts collection.,


  17. “access to the legal process is a fundamental right of the citizen.” True – if you can afford it, and my guess is that the majority of people in His Lordhip’s sights can’t.


  18. And yet the BBC so quickly handed over a hefty wedge of public money on just such a premise. “Farewell BBC director and alleged sh*t for brains – all hail the new sh*t for brains”.


  19. If a civil wrong has been suffered by him, let us remind ourselves that it was the Police who brought his name to the fore. Surely any defamation case should be aimed primarily at the originators? The fact that this has not been undertaken may be answered by the possible defence. “Sorry guv, mistaken identity. It wasn’t you it was your brother/cousin’.


  20. Indeed. What tends to happen in these circumstances is that judges throw the case out, it gets appealed, and sooner or later Judge eady, the most senior Libel judge, gets hold of it.

    And he’s a complete tosser. So the case goes ahead.


  21. I would be very strongly in favour of the Hieronimsub Act Of 2013, the criiminalisation of….
    “Taking the piss and generally behaving in a gombeen manner likely to alarm public morals.”
    Limitless fines, with the possibility of prison sentences for repeat offenders.


  22. Surely, McAlpine’ll be up for his day in court? No doubt he’ll apply for, and get legal aid from the EU. I imagine the Belgians would be OK with that.


  23. This is a well timed article. I believe RMPI have said today that many Twitter users have now contacted them to apologise. Hopefully a few of these people will finally wake up to what is happening now and ignore the rubbish written about this in the mainstream press. In addition, as mentioned above, the Panorama programme showing the legal mischief caused by the Barclays Brothers over the years. Someone on the programme described libel as ‘the rich man’s remedy’ Quite shocking – dealing with one vexatious litigant is bad enough but two of them and on the same tiny island!!.

    Anyway – I see it has been pointed out here that everyone should have the right to seek legal remedy. That is correct but not when you break all the rules in the process or with complete disregard for correct protocol and the rights of people you are pursuing. I do not wish to come across as anti – solicitor here but the same ‘access to justice’ arguments are often used by them to defend this kind of behaviour. I have even had solicitors arguing with me stating the SRA decisions against the speculative invoicing offenders mentioned in this article are unlawful and the judges who have criticised these practices, are wrong. However, as is pointed out to them, the SRA make the rules and the judges make the decisions and you have to accept that. I then refer them to this amusing UTUBE clip of my favourite lawyer:

    I would also take issue with something I think MickC mentioned. The previous SRA disciplinary actions mentioned are possibly very relevant because they can be linked to the conduct of this type of litigation and the pre action protocol for defamation which is designed to ensure litigants are on a fair and equal footing. This in turn links in to the over – compensation argument also mentioned. This I believe is highly important for these cases and particularly for Sally Bercow who has been asked for £50,000. She is one Twitter user out of many who got caught up in this – yet this ridiculous amount of money is being claimed. Just take a few minutes to actually think this all through and how ludicrous and unfair it is – and it is all happening in UK 2012. The rest of the world must think we have gone barmy.

    In my opinion, in light of the fact that a senior judge has said that it is inappropriate to conduct libel litigation using ‘divide and rule’ tactics and demanding substantial sums of money off individuals as if one post or tweet represented the sole or significant cause of the damage – Mr Reid needs to have an urgent rethink about this.

    I accept that what has happened is very unfortunate and distressing for Lord McAlpine and Mr Reid may well believe that this entitles his law firm to act in such a heavy handed fashion. Not so, and in my view unless he seriously rethinks his strategy, some of the decisions he is taking now could very well come back to bite him.


  24. ‘His client has already received £310,000 from broadcasters and in this context it is difficult to see how the costs in pursuing individuals will further vindicate him and achieve meaningful damages.’ This is no longer about getting money,it’s about controlling people, the ultimate plan being control of the internet. The ‘softening up’ process has begun,with the blessing of the establishment no doubt.


  25. Defamed by whom? By Sally Bercow asking why he was trending? In not making any allegation about him, and by stating fact that he was trending, in what way was that defamatory? Similarly with the BBC and the notorious Newsnight story which pointedly named noone and made no identification other than “a senior tory”?

    I always understood libel as being when you publically said something about an identifiable someone that wasn’t true. BBC and Bercow aren’t guilty as one said someing about an unidentified person and the other stated a fact about him.


  26. Absolutely spot on Laurence, this is about control and the ‘softening up’ process. This is not, all that it seems. But, as I have maintained, nothing happens in politics by accident, and this is politics in its purest form no doubt. More is at stake here methinks.


  27. Well, I must admit in view of recent events you do have to wonder if there is some sort of agenda somewhere.

    However, the crucial thing about this article is that it was the establishment (The Solicitors Regulation Authority and Judge Eady – backed up by numerous appeal judges) who criticised and punished the conduct of the speculative invoicers and libel claimants/their solicitors who tried through their actions to intimidate and control people and free speech on the internet.

    That has got to be seen positively. The public may not have got to grips with the issues yet but they will when the mainstream press realise the weaknesses in the case. No judge and no regulator can realistically ignore the precedants highlighted here when dealing with Lord McAlpine V Mrs Bercow.

    In my opinion what will really contribute to this litigation unravelling fast is if the Barclay Brothers start issuing their confetti writs after last night’s Panaroma programme. This litigation will then be seen in its proper context.


  28. One of the journalists who made the BBC programme was asked prior to transmission if it was Lord McAlpine who was the paedophile Tory peer. He said yes. That was defamatory-because there was nothing to prove it was correct and subsequently the witness has said it wasn’t. .
    When the programme went out without correcting that, it adopted and repeated the defamation-because by then it was known to whom the programme referred. The BBC should have pulled the programme if they wanted to avoid liability-because the journo had cocked it up.
    The Twitterers case is more difficult because they don’t mention the allegation or were connected with the programme. But it is unlikely in the extreme (certainly more than a balance of probability, in my view) that they would have even mentioned McAlpine if they had NOT intended to refer to the programme and the false allegation. They have therefore adopted and repeated the libel and have committed defamation.
    BTW, I am not charging for this explanation of the law.
    I know many here are anti McAlpine. I am neither for, or against-it is irrelevant.
    I do know that should we find ourselves defamed as he has been we would want to be able to put the record straight and probably want some recompense. Anyone who says they would not is either a fool or a liar, in my view.
    Indeed, to bring the matter closer to home, JW has recently put his own point of view on a personal matter forward to counter the views of others-and good for him. It is every man’s right to do so.


  29. Personally I am thinking McAlpine is being used as a diversionary tactic because truth be known he could have just turned round and stated it was another McAlpine and not him. Simple solution so why the rest?

    Here’s one why would you need to cut the redundancy notifcation period from 90 to 45 days if you were not actually anticipating future redundancies. When you consider it would only have an impact if those redundancies were realised and saves big corporate businesses from large payouts. To conceal any public actions you need the best distractions all the while you put in place those things that would raise serious questions if you studied them carefully.

    Could speculate more, Cameron and his anti-EU suggestions and bullseye 30-60 days is the EU collective redundancy period is a pause for thought. McAlpine is risking nothing so losing nothing and potentiually maybe even turning a profit from all this.

    2013 the UK government long game draws to an end because this was wait and see time and do nothing but try to hold out for better times. Better times are not coming around this time so tickety-tick if we enable the “few” last bits like arming the trigger on a bomb it is ready to begin.

    A gut feeling. (No I do not believe in the Mayan prophecy, it is the underlying economic situation they would have us all believe is fine until suddenly it is not.)


  30. “The ‘softening up’ process has begun,with the blessing of the establishment no doubt.”

    Agreed. There is a political agenda running in the background. You will have noticed that another Lord (Leveson) was mouthing off about the “internet” in Oz. Politicians abhor unrestricted access to information..


  31. This is mildly amusing which concerns the case mentioned in this article. It also might shed light on the attitude in the judiciary to people demanding legal remedies on the internet.

    Brief background – it was an internet libel case arising from an argument on a forum where the claimant was called various names. The claimant then started making demands for money from people on the website for alleged libel. This in turn led to those people and others objecting to these demands and accusing the claimant of extortion/blackmail etc which he also sued for.

    This was the verbal exchange reported to me as have taken place between the claimant and appeal judges when the case was heard at appeal.

    The claimant: The defendant defamed me.
    The Judge: No, he called you a dickhead.
    The claimant; But my lord he also said I was trying to extort money from other users of the site (i.e defendants)
    The Judge: Well, you were!


  32. @Paul J: You are obviously someone with considerable perspicacity, slogging’s too good for ’em. Limitless fines is good, I have a new idea for repeat offenders it’s called ‘prison plus’..


  33. ‘Meanwhile … several MSM titles are now uncovering all kinds of dirt on the Estbalishment fiddlers still at large’.

    As someone spending less and less time monitoring the MSM, I would be be grateful if JW or Sloggers would post links to any decent articles on this topic.


  34. I happen to know that the cases brought by Smith were issued separately for other reasons which the Judge didn’t mention. The Norwich Pharmacals did not supply the names & addresses all at the same time, so Smith had to issue as and when the info became available. Additionally, the defendants attacked the people who did settle, bullying them for doing so. This made it more difficult for others who felt their case was weak. 8 people did settle, some for just an apology. The Judges ignored the fact that the majority of people had accused Smith of being a criminal when Smith has no criminal record.


  35. Absolutely not. They are merely pre-action protocol. It is perfectly normal to ask someone to apologise for defaming you. If this has to be done through a solicitor, then a contribution to costs is perfectly legal. To allege that these actions were illegal or extortion would be an actionable defamation on Andrew Reid’s reputation.


  36. The Police certainly are responsible for the mistaken identity. The Police informed ‘the victim’ (of child sex abuse) of the name, even though it was wrong. The victim then made allegations which were unfounded without checking the veracity of the Police’s claims, but who would check if the Police were wrong? The Police would say that it was innocent misidentification, because to suggest that they knew they were informing the victim of the wrong name would be to suggest that they were maliciously defaming him and/or perverting the course of justice.

    The general public (Twitter, BBC & ITV) then piled on in without checking if it was true. That’s one of the problems with defamation. When someone flings mud, even if it is wrong, then others have a tendency to follow suit and join in the attack on someone’s reputation. Call it for what it is, mob bullying. Lord McAlpine would certainly be within his rights to bring a defamation action against the Police and the victim, but allow the victim to settle for an apology and small contribution to costs whilst McAlpine pursues the originator of the defamation attack, the Police.


  37. I happen to know those cases very well also. The above post and the one below by the same contributor about pre action protocol (as to quote Judge Eady in the same case) is simply nonsense.

    Let us be under no illusions – all the cases against individuals were very weak. The accusations of being called a criminal were discussed in Eady’s judgement. Context is the key here and Eady wisely recognised those comments in the context that the claimant was demanding sums of money on a public bulletin board.

    If someone demanded 100K from you (and this was one of the demands made) you might conclude that someone was trying to extort money from you. And what about if in the early stages of the litigation the claimant posted this and other threats and demands on that same discussion site. Would this be your idea of pre action protocol? Or would you think it was extortion? Judge for yourself because this was one of the many threats made against potential defendants.
    Claimant’s post:…………………..
    Esrimaur – 8 Aug’07 – 06:22 – 54 of 58

    Starting to feel the pressure are we?

    More than one of the individuals is in settlement talks. Quite a few actually. The smart ones are getting in quick whilst they can. High Court claims are being issued and more are to come over the following weeks. The number of settlements and admissions of defamation will weigh against the others that try to hold out. The longer you wait before contacting (Solicitors name and address details deleted)

    to commence negotiations, will only extend the ultimate costs you pay….

    The charitable causes are already receiving benefit from these settlements. How long can you wait JonC?……. before the letter before action drops on your doormat?

    Anyway – this observation from Eady is key (see below) He recognised that the claimant took part in the discussions and it was his behaviour that was being judged. Onlookers would judge for themselves his behaviour – not what people were saying about it. This observation in my view was central to the whole case.

    The case is also very relevant to the Mr Reid style of litigating and as the same judge pointed out, you cannot make demands of money from individuals without there being a danger of overcompensation, breaching the pre action protocol and SRA rules. All the tweets have to be viewed in their context and as a whole. If McAlpine wants an apology from SB that is fine. But demanding anything more than a nomimal amount for her involvement is highly inappropriate in my view.

    “Rather laboriously, in his particulars of claim against Mr Love, Mr Smith attempts to define “appalling” by reference to “someone who acted in a manner that causes dismay, horror or revulsion to others”. Yet the remarks on the bulletin board by these multiple defendants were not simply made in a vacuum. Any reader would know the context and recognise the conduct on Mr Smith’s part which was being characterised as “appalling” and be able to form his or own view of it. This means that Mr Smith’s reputation in the eyes of such a person is likely to depend primarily on what he himself has done, and is known to have done, rather than on what others are saying about it”.


  38. Perhaps I would suggest that any such allegation would not be an actionable defamation. Mr Reid conducted the early stage of this litigation by media. He has gone on record in saying that it would be cheaper to pay up, has mentioned sums he wishes individuals to pay and has set up a facility on the internet for potential defendants to identify themselves and make reparations. All done in the media under a blaze of publicity.

    Surely in any defamation action taken by Mr Reid any judge would have to take note of Smith V ADVFN and consider that any allegations would be simply opinions of his behavior which is on display for all to see. So, perhaps this might be the judges’s observation made in any ill advised defamation action by Mr Reid,

    “This means that Mr Reid’s reputation in the eyes of such a person is likely to depend primarily on what he himself has done, and is known to have done, rather than on what others are saying about it”.

    Also – this would be relevant:

    107. Opinions may be expressed in exaggerated and strident terms; the only requirement is that they be honestly held. It is fanciful to suppose that any of these people did not believe what they were saying. Even if they reached their conclusions in haste, or on incomplete information, or irrationally, the defence would still avail them. It would be wasteful to let proceedings go forward merely on the footing of a series of formulaic assertions to the effect that the individual concerned did not honestly believe what he was saying. There is accordingly no realistic prospect of any such claims achieving the only legitimate goal of vindicating reputation.

    Defamation is really not that complicated when you get to grips with it. And Smith V ADVDN really does simplify it in my view. Too many solicitors and barrack room lawyers really do try their best to over complicate it for their own ends. They really ought to know better.


  39. Pingback: McALPINE v BERCOW: The codswallop continues. | A diary of deception and distortion

  40. Pingback: John Ward – McAlpine v Bercow : The Codswallop Continues – 24 December 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

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