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10 March 2006
The first Britblog libel case?
Neil Clark, who comes over as a decent bloke, has decided to sue Oliver Kamm over some comments that the latter made. You can read Neil's reasons for yourself, and at the bottom of that posting you will see my comment that urges him not to do anything of the sort.

As I said on Neil's blog, the problem with suing a pretty boy like Kamm is that all his little friends will crawl out of the woodwork and start a smear campaign. Sure enough, that is what is already happening, as Wankers for War claim that Neil is doing an "Irving". So even if he wins, the matter will not end with that court victory. He will find himself firefighting all across the web.

The second point really only applies to socialists, but I'll offer it out as a freebie: when the sewer dwellers start giving it gob, you know that you are doing something right. It happened to me with a type accused me of being a jew-baiter. I still get cheap laughs at that bugger's expense even now. I suppose the problem with not having anything approaching a proper job is that I don't have management vermin to kick around: the world o' blogs makes up for a lot.

Neil Clark is not a socialist, but I would hate to see him waste his time on this matter. I hope that it gets dropped.

Update: Neil Clark has left comments in this posting's box and pointed out that he is a socialist. I am sorry for the error: so many people from the far-right also believe in collectivisation that I assumed that this was where he was coming from. It was his argument in favour of capital punishment that did it. Actually, of course, there is nothing socialist about opposition to the death penalty, and I should have realised this.



I really really hope the unanimous advice that Neil's been getting from all sides and sympathies (I'm guessing you and Tim Worstall rarely go on camping trips together) will make him think twice, as this is sheer lunacy.

You hit the nail on the head: given that the aim is to defend Neil's reputation, what price a court victory (which looks far from certain) in the wake of the subsequent character assassination? (which really will be certain)

I really don't see how Neil can win if he goes through with this - and his clear inability to see himself as others see him is as likely to bring him down as anything else. Libel juries are not renowned for their sympathy towards plaintiffs who conduct shrill and obsessive campaigns of character assassination against the defendant.

10 March 2006 at 12:55  

Hi Exile,
I see Oliver Kamm's pals are now using your blog to post comments.
'shrill and obsessive campaigns of character assassination'- that sounds rather familiar doesn't it?
Have you also noticed how Kamm's pals are so proud of their views, they hide under false names.

10 March 2006 at 21:24  

ps I am a socialist!

10 March 2006 at 21:26  

So's Tony Blair -- formally.
And even Adolf Hitler was a socialist. A national one, in fact.

If we had strong Left organizations, we'd be much better prepared to deal with slanders and assaults, than with pursuing this individualistic, ad hoc crap going on now.

Cease and desist, komrad!

10 March 2006 at 21:59  

Have you also noticed how Kamm's pals are so proud of their views, they hide under false names.

What a strange man you are. Clark versus Kamm is the sequel to Fayed versus Hamilton as far as I'm concerned, in that I really couldn't care two hoots who wins.

And how do you know that I'm not a fully accredited Llap-goch master? Honestly, if I were a more litigious man than I am, I'd...

...no, best not go there: that way madness lies.

11 March 2006 at 00:07  

I am sorry, Neil, that I said you were not from the left - I'll make an update to the main posting.

In general I still stand by what I said. Suing anyone is a waste of time, but suing a man who should be treated as a figure of fun is plain daft. I mean the bugger tells us how leftie he is and then, almost in the same breath, announces that he writes for The Times - a scab sheet of the first order. And check out the photograph: Who's a pretty boy, then?

Naah, bollocks to him.

11 March 2006 at 00:59  

I hardly ever agree with Ken, but he's absolutely right.

I had someone complain to my editor once about a negative review I'd written. The editor showed me the letter and asked if there was any substance to it. I conceded one factual error (or, more accurately, admitted that an ill-chosen word was clearly giving the wrong impression), but pointed out that a 1000-word missive to pick apart half a sentence was overkill. He agreed. A brief correction was run (which I honestly doubt anyone noticed), and the matter never arose again.

Do you seriously think I'd have been happier if I'd run an obsessive public vendetta against this guy on my blog, alongside what seems to be an equally prolific private e-mail correspondence, culminating in an equally public threat to sue?

As Ken says, "bollocks to him". The way you deal with people like Kamm is to ignore them - or, if they won't give up, resort to active ridicule. But in this case I get the distinct impression that Kamm would have left the matter alone in early January had it not been for Neil's obsessive picking at that particular scab - he made it pretty clear in his follow-up posts that he was only returning to the subject of Neil Clark because Neil simply wouldn't let the matter drop. Or, in Kamm-speak: "Clark also writes regularly to me and, I understand, a few other columnists of similar views on foreign policy, usually in the form of a challenge to say or do something; I regret that I am not assiduous in replying".

11 March 2006 at 08:36  

What's worrying me now is that all this is liable to become a spectator sport, as various blogs egg on one side or the other.

This business of private e-mails is also troubling. I am agin 'em as a rule. Far better to rant in the public forum, I feel. The only time I broke that rule was about 18 months ago when I was being seriously spammed with some seriously obscene messages. (And when I say obscene you know you can believe it, if you know anything about me.)

I narrowed it down to about six tossers, and I wrote to them all to force angry replies. This worked, and I could check their private, as it were, writing style against the spam. I also got to look at their e-mail headers.

I never did find out who was responsible, but the spam stopped, so I lost interest. Some of the tossers under suspicion did carry on writing, especially one of the Harry's Place gang, but I never bothered explaining to any of them what was going on. They had served their purpose and that is all that mattered.

Other than that, my rule has been maintained: keep it in the blogland!

11 March 2006 at 11:26  

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