by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 11th 2011 5:44am
In our recent post concerning the attempt by the UK to reform its ridiculous defamation laws (finally), Ben pointed out a perfect example of why those libel laws need fixing. Apparently a volunteer society focused on preserving a specific train steam engine (the 6024) was forced to sell its carefully restored steam engine thanks to a highly questionable libel suit from the society's former chair, who was ousted in a dispute. The Society's newsletter, which goes almost entirely to society members, discussed the dispute with the former chair and that guy sued claiming libel. The Society pointed out that the newsletter only went to other society members and the court initially agreed. However, the former chairman pointed out that the newsletter was also sent out to a grand total of 13 photographers whose images appeared in the newsletter, but who were not members of the society. And the court found that because those 13 people might have read the article (even though no evidence was presented suggesting they did), that the libel charge was valid. So now, the Society had to sell off the engine that it had restored just to pay for the legal costs of defending itself... because 13 people might have (but probably didn't) see the article in question.
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