Readers will know that this blog was last week threatened with a libel lawsuit. This was then followed up with a formal email that threatened legal action were an article, published by this blog, not removed.
In order to protect our student writer from potentially crippling legal costs that would result from any legal action taken against him, this request was adhered to.
Such action did not amount to any admission of liability or any support for the actions of those threatening legal action (initially Kerry Anne-Mendoza via Twitter and now Nancy Mendoza via email).
It is the submission of this blog that not only would any such legal action be ill-founded but, more importantly, it would represent a dangerous and unprincipled attack on core Labour values.
It would be a legal claim that sought to assert reputation as inviolable, something that could never be challenged or questioned and place it above and at the expense of free speech and debate.
This is not the law and it is not the law for good reason. The law rightly protects freedom of expression as a fundamental right (see A10 ECHR). The law allows a person to speak the truth, and the law allows a person to express their honest opinion. This is set out in the Defamation Act 2013.
We must be aware that in the age of political blogging, opinions may offend, and they may call the reputations, actions and beliefs of others into question. However, the response ought not be to make ill-founded threats of legal action, but to engage, rebut and respond.
Threatened legal action inhibits freedom of expression, it silences and stifles important and salutary debate. This blog exists to promote such debates.
One would hope that advocates of the Labour movement would realise how precious and how hard-fought these values are and seek to promote and protect them – not act so as to endanger their very existence.