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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Libel action against the BBC and Paul Staines/Guido Fawkes

Libel action against the BBC and Paul Staines/Guido Fawkes

Libel action against BBC and Paul Staines/Guido Fawkes

Hi Lorraine

Thank you for your letter and attached pdf setting out the BBC's line of defence.

I have slept on it and do not consider that the line of defence put forward by the BBC will stand up to my line of attack.

Having looked at the Jameel case, in my view, it does not allow you to strike out my application.

I do not accept that the meaning "In order to assess the meaning of the defamatory words, the whole of the Programme must be taken into account to understand the context of the words that are the subject of complaint". This is akin to stating just because other words are true therefore the lie does not matter. It follows that individual words and phrases can be singled out from the Programme.

Justification/Fair comment. Paul Staines comment was not honestly held at all. Rather it was uttered in bad faith borne with malice. The meaning of the words were to impute that I am a convicted murderer, and it is pointless you trying to claim otherwise. In other words, with your untruthful denial, you are merely adding insult to injury. The higher meaning of murder is legally distinct from manslaughter and precisely why it was important not to accuse me of a crime I did not commit or get convicted for. The onus is for you to prove I was convicted of murder and not convicted of manslaughter. My claim is that I was convicted of manslaughter, therefore this fact provides you with no defence whatsoever. What you are expecting a jury to swallow is that there is no difference between the crimes of manslaughter and murder, and calling someone the latter does not injure their reputation if convicted of the former. I believe I can persuade a jury otherwise.

For the reasons set out above, I will proceed to go to court unless you rethink your position and come to your senses.

Yours faithfully

John Hirst


Anonymous said...

Surprise, surprise. Not.

Tim said...

They seem to be relying on three different defences, none of which I find persuasive.

The first, the ‘context’ defence, seems to worsen their position rather than improve it. In Mr Vine’s introduction to the show, he demonstrates that he is clear in his head about the facts; correctly referring to ‘manslaughter.’ He therefore has no excuse for going on to contradict himself with talk of murder. Neither does Mr Staines. It is difficult to see what motivation they could have had for departing from fact, save for one of malice.

The second, the ‘fair comment’ defence, seems to be an attempt to conflate statements of alleged fact with statements of opinion. Saying that somebody ‘murdered’ a person is a statement of alleged fact rather than a statement of opinion. In any event, if somebody is aware that the conviction was for manslaughter, then any statement they make which includes the word ‘murdered’ cannot be an honestly held opinion.

The third, the sullied character defence, has the most potential from their viewpoint, but I do not think that it ought to succeed for the following reason: Using a falsehood to bring down somebody’s character from the level of somebody without the ‘guilty mind’ for murder to somebody with the ‘guilty mind’ for murder is a considerable drop.