Friday, 16 May 2008

Terrorism by other means

My friend Tom Minchin posted more news on libel tourism, or lawfare, on HBL , telling us of an interview in FrontPage Magazine with the laywer Brook M Goldstein. Here's what she has to say about the situation in Britain:
...UK libel jurisprudence, in direct contrast to US law and due process considerations, effectively operates to declare Defendants guilty before proven innocent and UK courts have become a magnet for libel suits...[S]o heavy is the burden of proof put on the defendant that the mere threat of suit in a UK court is enough to intimidate publishers into silence, regardless of the merit of their author's works.

A major player on this front is Khalid bin Mahfouz, a wealthy businessman who resides in Saudi Arabia and who has been accused by several parties of financially supporting Al Qaeda. A notable libel tourist, Mahfouz has sued or threatened to sue more than 30 publishers and authors in British courts, including several Americans, whose written works have linked him to terrorist entities.

Faced with the prospect of protracted and expensive litigation, most of the parties targeted by Mahfouz have issued apologies and retractions, while some have paid fines and "contributions" to his charities.

An earlier post from Tom Minchin on HBL drew attention to the publisher Ezra Levant, the victim of similar action in Canada. This link is to the first of a series of YouTube videos showing how he fought back against the Human Rights Commission in Canada, the vehicle used by Islamicists there to silence him and others. As Mr Levant robustly points out, free speech includes the freedom to offend - because the truth will always offend those who can't or won't see it.

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