A Moment of Cognitive Dissonance


Oh, sweet Mary, Mother of God. I do not think my head has been this close to exploding since I was forced to agree with Mr Justice Eady over his decision to refuse a request by erstwhile blogger Night Jack to block a move by The Times to reveal his identity as Dc Richard Horton of Lancashire Constabulary.

I am highly satisifed that foreign courts are moving to explicitly protect their domains from vexacious libel claims made in English courts in which the onus of proof is placed on the defendent lest they wish to pay five figures or more of damages and issued a fullsome apology following by complete expunging of the claim, no matter how ill-distributed.

In early 2008, New York State passed the Libel Tourism Protection Act, specifically with the case of bin Mahfouz v. Ehrenfeld in mind. Saudi businessman Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz had used the fact that 23 of Susan Ehrenfeld’s book alleging his links to funding of Jihadist terrorism had passed into Britain, despite being published in the USA.

The states of Illinois and Florida followed suit, and now California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger has extended the same protection to California residents.

Good. Anything which frustrates the possibility of a judge-made privacy law which may even extend to subverting the 1688 Bill of Rights by barring reporting of Parliamentary business is to be welcomed. (It should be noted that in Trafigura v. Guardian Media Group, Carter-Ruck has merely re-negotiated the terms of the original unjunction. I do not see – yet – confirmation that the original injunction was unlawful.)

I am sure Schwarzenegger’s personal interest had nothing to do with his having previously been sued for libel – by a UK resident linked to an incident within the UK, admittedly.

In 2000, Anna Richardson – producer, presenter, journalist – told Premier magazine that Schwarzenegger had groped her during an interview on her late-night television programme, and that he was in the habit of doing so with female colleagues and employees: in which theme, issued a public apology in 2003.

Although Schwarzenegger issued a public apology in 2003 for over two decades of serial harrassment, members of his publicity department initially released statements to a Los Angeles newspaper that Richardson had initiated the groping. Because the newspaper was available online, an English libel judge decided that the case could be held in this county.

Who else, but Mr Justice Eady.

I need a lie down.


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