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Bob Geldof’s Production Company Threatens Blogger with Libel Action

Here’s a blogger who’s come under threat for criticising (UK) Kent County Council’s internet-based Kent TV service. The station, paid for by tax payers in the county,  is provided by Bob Geldof’s production company Ten Alps. Private Eye reports (1229, p. 11):

[Tony Flaig] received a pompous letter from Jo Phillips, “director of communications” for Ten Alps, claiming he had made “inappropriate, unlawful and damaging allegations about Kent TV and the people who work there”. Ms Phillips, who has since left the company, concluded: “Please therefore ensure that your blog does not publish any further defamatory statements about Kent TV. I trust you will not do so, but if you do, you should note that Ten Alps reserves the right, if appropriate to protect the reputations of our staff, initiate legal proceedings without further reference to you.”

It’s unclear from the report whether Phillips made specific objections to particular assertions – a vague complaint of “defamatory statements” would fail to meet the Pre-action Protocol for Defamation.

Flaig also received the following, from Geoff Wild, Kent County Council’s director of law and governance:

If you continue to choose to exercise your right to free speech in the manner that you do – as is your right – you must expect to take whatever consequences the law provides…

And under UK libel law, that means Flaig, a railway track-layer by trade, would be forced to defend himself under presumption of guilt and without Legal Aid against a powerful organisation with infinitely larger resources. Even if Flaig is confident he’s done nothing wrong, making a stand means gambling with financial ruin. That is what “the law provides” in the UK.

6 Responses

  1. I received a letter from some jumped up piss pot Media firm, who choose to defame me by making false statements. When I contacted them offering to remove any specific, posting, not surprisingly the person on the end of the phone, was at loss to clearly identify what if anything was actually defamatory.

    I’ve spent a lot of time on this crap, what my local authority fail to accept is that their contractor is effectively acting on their behalf so it was a disappointment that even now the top bods have failed to have the good grace to apologize.

    A big thank you to people like yourselves and Private Eye for standing up for freedom of speech.

    Perhaps the most ironic thing is I pay taxes to these people, also I was intrigued to see the a company director of the Media firm mouth off something about this country giving him the freedom to say what he wanted to, I just thought at the time why not walk across the corridor from your office and ask your F****** Director of communication her thoughts.

    You’ll have to excuse the oblique references but these bastards might well be capable of sueing me into the stone age. anyway to check for yourself visit the site in question and look those postings which refer to Freedom of speech Whotsit TV there are labels in the side bar which if clicked will bring up the relevant stuff

    Even more ironic is I’m sure these tossers think I’m some dangerous left wing nutter, fact is I voted tory in last county council elections and have already promised to my vote again to the same county councilor.

    Grammer not my strong point so excuse any errrors

  2. Unless they have a specific point to make, and a reasonable explanation as to why a particular sentence or passage should be removed, then their complaint should not be taken seriously. As I mentioned above, the law has a Pre-Action Protocol for Defamation, which includes the following passage:

    3.2 The Letter of Claim should include the following information:-

    name of Claimant;

    sufficient details to identify the publication or broadcast which contained the words complained of;

    the words complained of and, if known, the date of publication; where possible, a copy or transcript of the words complained of should be enclosed;

    factual inaccuracies or unsupportable comment within the words complained of; the Claimant should give a sufficient explanation to enable the Defendant to appreciate why the words are inaccurate or unsupportable;

    the nature of the remedies sought by the Claimant.

    Where relevant, the Letter of Claim should also include:-

    any facts or matters which make the Claimant identifiable from the words complained of;

    details of any special facts relevant to the interpretation of the words complained of and/or any particular damage caused by the words complained of.

    3.3 It is desirable for the Claimant to identify in the Letter of Claim the meaning(s) he/she attributes to the words complained of.

    I’d like to know why Wild did not advise you of this, or seek the needed information from Ten Alps.

  3. […] There’s another legal threat against a blogger that’s come to light today. I saw it via Richard Bartholomew: […]

  4. […] Reading over today’s recommended posts from Liberal Conspiracy, I noticed the following article from a site called Bartholomew’s Notes. It recounts how a Kent blogger, a Tony Flaig of […]

  5. […] Bartholomew’s Notes: Reports on a blogger under threat: […]

  6. The unfortunate thing about this Pre-Action Protocol (and every other one for that matter) is it is not mandatory for it to be followed, only that it is encouraged.

    The P-AP Practice Directions state that the Court expects it to be followed (para. 2.2) but all the Court can do (para 2.3) is make rulings regarding legal costs and interest on damages to reduce the impact to the innocent party of the other side not complying (para 2.4).

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