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Bloggers against libel: help Alex Hilton


4:24 am - December 3rd 2008

by David Semple    


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There are interesting stories afoot: a former member of Labour, who joined RESPECT and then joined the Conservative Party, is currently suing Alex Hilton, former parliamentary candidate and manager / former owner of Labourhome.

Some of the details can be read on his site. The news was brought to my attention at Harry’s Place, and Dave Osler is apparently also being sued?

Alex is appealing for help to fight his legal costs, and I am minded to make a donation (when I have the money). This is something which all bloggers should take seriously. If people read Alex’s own comments at the link above, I think they’ll see he has acted in a reasonable fashion – including offering the offended person the front page of Labourhome to set the record straight.

I think Alex passing around a collection tin is entirely justifiable: I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have the money to fight a law suit. We protect ourselves by protecting each other – and we shouldn’t simply tolerate litigious behaviour. The blogosphere went to bat for Harry’s Place when we thought HP had been taken down by its ISP due to complaints: it’s time to saddle up again.

Below is Alex’s statement:

Comrades,

As you may know, I sold Labourhome in July, though I still run it and with no interference from the new owner.

However, last year, someone started a defamation action against me over a Labourhome article and the expenses are bourne by me, they were not transferred to Progressive Media, the new owner.

So far this legal case has cost me £4,022 and it is still on-going. This is my plea to Labourhome readers for contributions towards my legal costs.

I can’t tell you too much about the case because I don’t want to annoy the court. But this is what I am comfortable telling you.

An active Labourhome user wrote a piece about the past of a Labour member who had defected to Respect. That person has since joined the Conservative Party.

The Labourhome user is also being sued by this particular Tory, who is a litigant in person and has no lawyer.

The offended person contact me about the piece, which I immediately deleted. I offered the front and centre spot on Labourhome to the offended person for their right of reply or to write something else of their own choice. My offer was declined.

Because of my actions, my lawyer says I have an absolute defence under Section One of the Defamation Act. I also have other defence strategies available, one of which is the possibility that the article was not defamatory, thought this is still being explored.

Because the complainant is a litigant in person, this case has been more complicated than normal and I have actually received a total of four writs before it got tidied up into one action. This is partly why this defence is so expensive.

Despite the likelihood that I will probably win this case, I do not have a strong prospect of recouping my costs, at least in a reasonable timescale. I don’t have the five-figure sum the complainant wants as a settlement.

I would be very very grateful if readers would consider donating any sum towards my legal costs. I built Labourhome two and a half years ago as an open forum for Labour supporters because I believed it was needed. I’m in court because of the freedom of this forum and I can tell you the whole situation is pretty depressing.
Any contribution will be gratefully received. If you don’t have any money but would like to help, please email a link to this plea for help to others who might be able to help.

Thank you so much,

Alex Hilton
alexhilton@gmail.com

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About the author
David Semple is a regular contributor. He blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
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