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Should we think more before we type?


Guest Chubby Jason
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Guest Chubby Jason

I've just read this on F365...extraordinary:

 

 

 

Fanning The Flames

Here's a good news story during these dark times. The author and political activist George Monbiot is now free 'to write about the worst example of legal bullying I have ever seen'. As good as his word, Monbiot has duly devoted his weekly column in The Guardian to the tale of how Sheffield Wednesday brought almost complete ruin to the lives of supporters of the club over trivial and heartflelt posts on an obscure internet site.

 

For Monbiot, 'the point of this story is not that the directors of Sheffield Wednesday have behaved like a bunch of petulant bullies [but that] It's that the law equips them to do so and the internet ensures that the law of defamation now threatens anyone who stands up for what he believes to be right.'

 

Others will see it as indicative of the crumbling relationship between football clubs and those they were originally founded to represent. Either way, it's one that deserves retelling and greater public awareness. So Mediawatch makes no apology for the lengthy extracts from Monbiot's column that follow.

 

'The club has had serious problems, on and off the pitch, and many of its fans use an internet forum - owlstalk.co.uk - to discuss them. They make the kind of comments you would expect to find on any talk board, and which would normally be forgotten within 15 minutes. Two and half years ago the club launched its first suit. Only now have the people who posted these comments emerged blinking from the labyrinthine nightmare of English law.

 

'Here are some of the comments over which the club complained. "What an embarrassing, pathetic, laughing stock of a football club we've become." "Another day, another blunder. I doubt even Leeds were in such a mess this time last summer, and look what happened to them." "I am waiting with bated breath to hear who the Chuckle Brothers have signed after their trip to watch players abroad. With the amount of money they have to spend and the wages they can offer the best we can hope for is that little known Transvestitavian International I Sukblodov, who last scored in a brothel."

 

'Such comments were deemed by Sheffield Wednesday's lawyers to be "false and seriously defamatory messages" which had caused grievous injury to the delicate flowers who ran the club. Wednesday went to court to demand the names and email addresses of 14 people who had posted comments on owlstalk. The lawyers threatened "proceedings to include claims for injunctions, damages, interest and legal costs (which could be substantial)". The judge threw most of the application out, but instructed the forum's host to reveal the email addresses of four of the posters, whose remarks seem to me to be almost as trivial as those he dismissed. This took place a year ago, and the long shadow of the law hung over the posters until the club's lawyers dropped the case last week.

 

'Another case dates back to February 2006, when the club sent a warning letter to a fan called Nigel Short. When he received the letter he offered to apologise and to change his comments, but the club rejected this. He was able to fight it only because he found a lawyer - Mark Lewis of George Davies Solicitors in Manchester - who was incensed by this case and was prepared to represent him. "I've had two and a half years of worrying I was going to lose my house," Short tells me. "It's been hell. If Mark hadn't done this no win, no fee, I would have been bankrupt by now."

 

'In November 2007, Short was diagnosed with throat cancer. The case continued. But on Wednesday September 3 he announced that his treatment had been successful. On Friday September 5, the club dropped the case and agreed to pay his costs. It issued a press release which suggested it had done so because of "Mr Short's medical condition". I asked the club whether it had abandoned the case because it knew that Short would now live to fight the action. It has refused to answer my questions.'

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Guest Chubby Jason

Ashley, may come after  a few of us, once hes sold the club,...

Just be thankful Siniwatra never bought us. I'd imagine people will be disappearing all over the place.
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In an ideal situation, one should always think before they represent themselves in words and/or actions substantiated by facts and not hearsays.

 

However, it would be a very tedious and daunting life to lead. Additionally, it is hard for people to have perfect information.

 

Regarding the rule of defamation, there are several limbs to satisfy. It is very hard to get caught by the rule in a forum.

 

Additionally, it is the habit of lawyers to send out such letters even though a case may never be established in an ordinary court of law and it is no surprise that ordinary citizens shudder at receiving these letters.

 

 

 

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In an ideal situation, one should always think before they represent themselves in words and/or actions substantiated by facts and not hearsays.

 

However, it would be a very tedious and daunting life to lead. Additionally, it is hard for people to have perfect information.

 

Regarding the rule of defamation, there are several limbs to satisfy. It is very hard to get caught by the rule in a forum.

 

Additionally, it is the habit of lawyers to send out such letters even though a case may never be established in an ordinary court of law and it is no surprise that ordinary citizens shudder at receiving these letters.

 

 

True, isn't one of the keys to defamation that the difference between things stated to be taken as 'fact' versus 'opinion'?

 

Also the defence of a statement being 'in good faith' might run as well.

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Sometimes people enter into the most stupid legal battles. What did the club hope to achieve from that, just alienate more fans?

All they did was to prove those fans where bang on the money, let alone right.

But more - it shows what British justice is nowadays - the cause of the removal of freedom of speech, the friend of islamic terrorists, the accomplice of criminals, teen thugs, druggies and their dealers, benefit immigrants, asylum seekers and every negative in this country ruined by the party I USED to vote for.

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Sometimes people enter into the most stupid legal battles. What did the club hope to achieve from that, just alienate more fans?

All they did was to prove those fans where bang on the money, let alone right.

But more - it shows what British justice is nowadays - the cause of the removal of freedom of speech, the friend of islamic terrorists, the accomplice of criminals, teen thugs, druggies and their dealers, benefit immigrants, asylum seekers and every negative in this country ruined by the party I USED to vote for.

 

Not sure I'd go that far, it's the people who exploit the law rather than the system itself that is to blame here.

 

As Ericz says, it was more likely a scare tactic used by the club's lawyers that they never thought they would see any resistance to. I'm fairly sure if it had made court then the fans would have been the winners.

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Nah, that was Coventry. Someone on their Rivals site, "Gary Mabbutt's knee" referred to the 'rogues' running the club, who promptly took the dictionary definition of 'rogue' to their lawyers.

 

Ah right, couldn't remember. I'm not defending Wednesday here, but I bet there was something there that wasn't very clever, something more than quoted in that article.

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Ashley, may come after  a few of us, once hes sold the club,...

Just be thankful Siniwatra never bought us. I'd imagine people will be disappearing all over the place.

 

Don't worry I'm sure Shinawatra could just as equally take action against web forums other than Man City ones.

 

So that'll be the last we'll ever hear of you then.

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Not sure I'd go that far, it's the people who exploit the law rather than the system itself that is to blame here.

Your opinion - which is starting to become illegal, notice ?

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Guest Geordiesned

Brian Laws gave evidence on behalf of Sheff Weds. It wasn't long ago that he got some Scunthorpe United fans banned from the ground for daring to question his substitutions! Couldn't make it up!

 

I would like to place it on record that the above mentioned actions of Brian Laws (if factually correct Your Honour) would in my opinion mean that Mr Laws is a bit of a prick. :)

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Why does that article list some of the trivial posts that Sheff Wed complained about, but doesn't say what the actual posts that the judge upheld their complaints about said?  It's almost as if the journalist had a hidden agenda.  Surely not.

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Why does that article list some of the trivial posts that Sheff Wed complained about, but doesn't say what the actual posts that the judge upheld their complaints about said?  It's almost as if the journalist had a hidden agenda.  Surely not.

 

Perhaps his editors didn't want to publish claims the judge hadn't thrown out? And no, there's no hidden agenda there; it's obvious for everyone what his agenda is.

 

Edit: If you go through George Monbiot's website, you'll find footnotes that reference the court document, which can be found here (PDF). There, you can find some of the alleged defamatory statements, which are really just regular criticism.

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