The dangers of ‘letting fly’ on the Internet are legion and not sufficiently appreciated by some. Freedom of expression is not an absolute right, as one Internet blogger discovered to his cost. The High Court ordered him to pay £10,000 in libel damages to a film maker whom he falsely vilified as a fascist with right-wing and racist views.
The blogger had maliciously targeted the film maker in a prolonged online campaign which blackened his reputation and which was said to have resulted in the loss of lucrative business opportunities. He made no attempt to apologise for the baseless slurs, which had been published to a wide audience, and had made no response to the film maker’s defamation claim.
In making the award – which was the maximum permitted in an uncontested defamation case – the Court noted the gravity of the repeated libels and found that the film maker had lost a chance of making profits from aborted commercial plans and negotiations. An injunction was issued, forbidding the blogger from publishing the same, or similar, libels in the future. He was also ordered to pay the film maker’s legal costs.