View Full Version : Britain’s Muzzled Press

07-11-2013, 01:22 AM
By Myles Harris from the July-August 2013 issue

Free speech dies in the land where it was born.

AMANDA KNOX, the young American who spent four years in an Italian jail for the alleged murder of her British flatmate, Meredith Kercher, recently published her memoirs. You may or may not think much of Knox, who was eventually acquitted of the murder charge, but you might like to know what could happen to your daughter if, when she was on holiday in Italy, she knocked somebody down in an accident and had to face time on remand in one of the country’s prisons. What it has to say about the Italian penal system is shocking. British readers, however, will not be able to read Knox’s book. It is to be published worldwide with the exception of the United Kingdom. The reason? Knox has already been the object of numerous libel actions in Italy, and, until recently, practically anybody could sue anybody for libel in Britain even if neither party had ever set foot on British soil.

For years, if a British libel lawyer felt he no longer liked the color of his Porsche, he simply had to find a client wanting to bring a libel action and could look forward to a car with a better hue. Unless the intended target was enormously rich, the case would never get to court. Like a visit from the Sopranos, a libel lawyer’s letter was an offer most people couldn’t refuse. In Britain, a defamation action could cost up to 140 times more than one in any other European state. Defendants had to settle or risk an action involving court costs in excess of $150,000 and, potentially, unlimited damages.

Moreover unlike in America, British libel law places the onus of proof on the defendant, not the plaintiff. While national newspapers with pockets as deep as the Grand Canyon were willing to take on such a burden, practically anybody else who lived by the pen lived in terror of a writ. A single case could be sufficient to close a local newspaper or propel an individual into bankruptcy. Insurance premiums against libel were of the “catastrophic” variety. Read More>http://spectator.org/archives/2013/07/09/britains-muzzled-press

And the once free world continues it's decent into darkness