Anorak News | Dave Osler And A Victory For Bloggers Over Arcane Libel Laws

Dave Osler And A Victory For Bloggers Over Arcane Libel Laws

by | 14th, May 2010

DAVE Osler is a happier man. Dave Osler was accused by Johanna Kaschke of libel. It’s a dread word. The blogger has been through the ringer.

Tower Hamlets-based Conservative Johanna Kaschke sued Labour Party member Osler over an April 2007 story that she claimed linked her to the Baader-Meinhof gang. At the time she was with the Respect party. She claimed the article and some of the comments connected her to terrorism.

Three years the case took.

Mr Osler asserted that he never said Ms Kaschke was involved in bank robberies, violence or terrorism. Indeed, she was paid compensation in Germany for her wrongful arrest. He mentioned her history to provide background.

Mr Justice Eady ruled at London’s High Court:

“It is an important consideration for the court to have in mind on any abuse application that the fact of being sued at all is a serious interference with freedom of expression.

“That may be appropriate in the majority of libel actions, where it is necessary to countenance such interference in order to vindicate the rights of another person in respect of whom a real and substantial tort has occurred.

“But the court must be vigilant to recognise the small minority of cases where the legitimate objective of vindication is not required or, at least, cannot be achieved without a wholly disproportionate interference with the rights of the defendant.”

Mrs Osler:

This meant that weekends and annual leave were used up, as he was holding down a full time job. This meant that for the last two years we did not have a holiday together as he did not have the time or spare cash. It meant that he could not spend as much time with either me or his children, impacting on them and their mother with whom he shares childcare.

Dave Osler:

Her legal action against me, Eady J ruled, amounted to ‘abuse of process’. Or, as one definition of that term has it, ‘the malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process (civil or criminal) not justified by the underlying legal action’.

A press release:

This significant case clarifies the position in respect of bloggers and the online media in relation to the liability they face in respect of old postings still available in their archives…

The Osler case arose out of a blog post written by Ms. Kaschke in which Ms. Kaschke stated that she had been wrongly arrested in Germany in the 1970s. Mr. Osler linked to, and summarised her blog post, which caused Ms. Kaschke to sue him for libel. However, Ms. Kaschke did not issue the claim form until over a year after Mr. Osler’s blog was posted on the web. Mr. Osler applied to the court to strike out the claim on two grounds, namely that the claim was an abuse of process and that there was no evidence of any publication after the expiry of the 1-year limitation period.

In the light of this decision, it is clear that real evidence of publication of such material is required, and that it will not lightly be inferred by the courts.

…Mr. Justice Eady held that there was very little difference between what the claimant had put into the public domain and what Mr. Osler had published on his blog. In the circumstances, damages could only ever be very minor and a trial was simply not worth the time and expense that would be incurred…

The full judgement here.

Johann Kaschke continues to sue Alex Hilton and John Gray.

Yep, comments are closed. We wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Posted: 14th, May 2010 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink