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Bloggerheads, Craig Murray, Bob Piper And Boris Johnson Downed By Alisher Usmanov

by | 20th, September 2007

usmanov.thumbnail Bloggerheads, Craig Murray, Bob Piper And Boris Johnson Downed By Alisher Usmanov AS Tim Ireland tells me, his Bloggerheads site, and sites operated by Craig Murray, Bob Piper and Boris Johnson have been downed by Alisher Usmanov. Tim suggests the Arsenal fans might like to take the matter up in song.

Who’s Usmanov?

As the Guardian writes:

Arsenal’s newest shareholder, the Uzbek minerals billionaire Alisher Usmanov, continues to police discussion of his past and of his intentions for the Gunners after paying £75m for David Dein’s 14.58% share in the club.

Schillings, the lawyers acting for Usmanov, have been in touch with several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs warning them to remove postings referring to allegations made against him by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

And:

Usmanov was jailed under the old Soviet regime but says that he was a political prisoner who was then freed and granted a full pardon once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as president. Schillings have warned the websites that repetition of Murray’s allegations were regarded as “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory”.

DavidT at Harry’s Place:

Bloggers cannot operate if they are bullied by rich plaintiffs. Defamation law in the United Kingdom is both farcical and unfair, and is in desperate need of fundamental reform. Errors on blogs can easily be remedied: particularly where they permit open commenting (a libel risk in itself) which allows postings to be criticised, facts corrected, and arguments opposed. I know what it is like to be at the receiving end of a well funded threat of defamation proceedings, and it is no fun at all. It is outrageous that the law of defamation should be used to break bloggers: like butterflies upon wheels.

Mr Eugenides writes:

And let’s be clear on this point; these blogs are down not because Usmanov has been libelled, but because he says he’s been libelled, and has a room full of paid monkeys sitting at typewriters firing off theatening letters to that effect.

I don’t give a shit about this character, or Arsenal FC (no offence to any Gooners out there); nor do I share all or even most of Tim Ireland or Craig Murray’s politics. But that’s far from the point. If you can be silenced for calling a businessman a crook, then you can be silenced for calling a politician a crook, too. Then it’s everyone’s problem.

This one will run and run. No need to watch this space; there’ll be plenty of other bloggers stepping up on this one. Oh, and Arsenal fans; if you’re not convinced yet, think what this guy is going to do to your web discussions.

Dave Warner notes:

It appears Schillings has fallen victim to something our pals at Techdirt like to call “The Streisand Effect.” Back in 2003, Barbra Streisand sued a photographer in an attempt to remove an aerial photo of her California home from the Internet, despite the fact that the photo was part of a publicly funded coastline erosion study and wasn’t even labeled as her home. As a result, photos of her house were published all over the web within days.

[...] for all their claims that Murray is libeling their client, Schillings has not actually sued Murray for libel. They have told anyone who will listen that Murray’s book, Murder at Samarkand, is defamatory against Usmanov, but it’s been out for more than a year, and they have never taken any legal action against Murray. Instead, they seem more focused on getting any mention of Murray and his allegations against Usmanov removed from the web — and as the Streisand Effect teaches us, that’s pretty much impossible.

If Murray’s goal was to make Usmanov look like a thug, then mission accomplished.

Schillings has a page on its website entitled: The internet attacker.

It states:

The Issues

Our client was the founder and CEO of a financial services company. An anonymous source created a website which accused our client of assault, various financial crimes and unethical behaviour. We suspected that the source was a disgruntled former business partner, based both in the USA and the UK, but we could not initially prove this.

The Solution

The internet is not lawless. All the laws that apply to traditional publications apply, plus new regulations have been created. In this instance we:
# applied to Court for a “Spartacus” order requiring the source to identify himself or his ISP and webhost to identify him; and
# contacted the host, ISP and various search engines advising them that even though the allegations had physically been posted in the US they were defamatory under UK law as they could be accessed here
# search engines and ISPs removed the material.

Once the source was outed and starved of the oxygen of publicity, he quickly settled to avoid a defamation claim.

Tim Worstall writes:

The internet attacker

The Issues

Our client was the founder and CEO of a Russian metals company. An Ambassador created a website which accused our client of assault, various financial crimes and unethical behaviour, including heroin trading and rape. We suspected that the source was disgruntled and while he had published such allegations in a freely available book we advised our client not to sue for defamation.

The Solution

The internet is not lawless. All the laws that apply to traditional publications apply, plus new regulations have been created. In this instance we:

# applied to Court for a “Spartacus” order requiring the source to identify himself or his ISP and webhost to identify him; and
# contacted the host, ISP and various search engines advising them that the allegations were defamatory under UK law, although no one had ever tried anything in court.
# search engines and ISPs removed the material.

Once the source was closed down we could invoice our client in the knowledge of a job well done. The reputation of Gospodin Usmanov is, due to our prompt and careful attention, still spotless.

Laudatory comments upon our actions can be seen across the internet. If your reputation is at stake from some chavvy little blogger, no doubt any of the following would be delighted to provide you with references as to the effectiveness of our services.



Posted: 20th, September 2007 | In: Alisher Usmanov, Back pages, Politicians Comments (30) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink