Jump to content

Defamation bill passed - Owlstalk celebrates this 'win' !

Recommended Posts

For those of you who remember the dark times of old (where the old board members of the club and an ex-exployee decided it was a good idea to try and sue our own fans over some posts on Owlstalk), i thought you might like to know a massive success on that front.


At the time the club used spin, hype and the press to try and suggest that ordinary fans who used Owlstalk were some kind of serious threat to the club and that the directors were being libelled and so set about taking this site to court to try and obtain the names and addresses of a massive group of members so they could sue them.

We did not simply give into this and stood absolutely rock solid against this legal bullying thanks to brilliant representation from media lawyer Mark Lewis and his team

Together we went all the way to High Court in London where the club board and an ex-ceo racked up thousands of pounds in persuing this ridiculous action

At the end of the day nothing was gained by the club other than the worst PR and relationship with its own fans, thousands of people staying away from games and refusing to buy anything from the club etc


The club even added Brian Laws to the list of names wanting to sue fans without his full knowledge or consent (he immediately had his name removef when he found out saying "theres no way Im suing fans, Im having nothing to do with this")


Its a dark dark moment in the glorious history of our football club where club turned against the ordinary fan and thanks to a few brave people and an excellent lawyer (I would say the very best) we managed to push away and beat off an attempt to use the old libel laws as a way to try and crush ordinary criticism.


As we go about our ordinary lives and use messageboards and forums like this one we can look back proudly at the time that by standing up together against the North Korea'esque approach from the old board to silence and bully critics, that we have managed to contribute greatly towards changing a law in the house of lords as detailed below


Here is a list of the board members and ex-exnployee who signed to take action against our own fans:


Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Ltd

2. Dave Allen

3. Keith Addy

4. Ashley Carson

5. Kenneth Cooke

6. Robert Grierson

7. Geoffrey Hulley

8. Kaven Walker



Laws that led to London being dubbed "the libel capital of the world" will be reformed after peers in the Lords voted to pass the defamation bill, ending a three-year campaign led by Liberal Democrat peers Lord McNally and Lord Lester.


Libel reform campaigners said they were "delighted" overall that defamation reform was finally passing into law, although they were disappointed by the failure of a bid to bar private companies contracted to run schools, prisons or healthcare from suing ordinary citizens who criticised the work they do for the taxpayer.

However, the bill is a landmark piece of legislation and should provide more protection for individuals and organisations, including newspapers and broadcasters, which criticise big companies.


The new law will also stop cases being taken in London against journalists, academics or individuals who live outside the country, denting the libel tourism industry, but not ending it altogether, as foreigners will still be able to lodge claims in the high court.


Peers voted by a majority of 78 to pass the bill, which means it will now return to the Commons on Wednesday for formal approval with no possibility of fresh amendments.

It is believed that all but one Liberal Democrat peer had sided with the Tories, dashing Labour's chances of tightening up the rules on private companies contracted by local councils or government departments from suing without showing they have suffered "substantial financial loss" before taking legal action.

Labour peer Baroness Hayter said there was concern this would deter members of the public from airing grievances or criticising "a wider – and growing – ring of organisations contracted or commissioned to provide public services".


These ranged from independent treatment centres to opticians, dentists, GP consortia treating or diagnosing NHS patients, private organisations providing care homes, school dinners or prison management, Hayter added.


As the law stands, local councils are banned from suing for libel in relation to the execution of their public duties and Labour had tabled an amendment that would extend this to all third parties, but was defeated in Wednesday's Lords vote.


Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship said she was "delighted" that corporations will now have to prove financial loss before they sue for libel but added it was a "pity" the government voted against Labour's amendment to stop public money being used to stop "citizen critics".


Gillian Slovo, novelist and daughter of anti-apartheid campaigner Joe Slovo, heralded the campaign as a victory for those across society who had campaigned for the reforms of "an arcane law".


Owlstalk Shop




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest davet30

Interesting reading.


Dark dark days they were!


That bit about showing "substantial financial loss" before taking legal action.  Would SWFC have been able to do this?  I mean comments made on here could have been seen by SWFC as deterring people from going to games and thus causing financial loss.  Whether that loss would be deemed substantial or not I don't know.  Anyway those days are long behind us now.  Onwards and upwards!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was indeed a worrying time - I look back now and smile :)



(xiv) The final posting which concerns the Claimants was by a user called "cbr bob". His contributions followed a posting by the user known as Gamrie Owl, which referred to a trip abroad made by "the Chuckle Brothers" to watch players with a view to making a signing. I gather that the "Chuckle Brothers" was a reference, which would have been understood by users of the website, to the eighth Claimant, and to Mr Laws, the manager of the club, who was originally (but is no longer) the ninth Claimant. In response to that posting, "cbrbob" replied "they blew all the money on hookers". Another user then interjected "it's not a hooker we need, it's a striker", to which "cbrbob" responded "they wouldn't know the difference".

The Claimants are not, it appears, concerned about the suggestion that they spent the club's money on prostitutes, which I presume they accept might have been unlikely to be taken seriously, but with the suggestion that the eighth Claimant would not have known the difference between a hooker in rugby and a striker in football, which would have been understood to mean that the eighth Claimant, though he was the chief executive of the football club, would not have been capable of spotting a competent player.



The fact that they were in Holland seems to have been missed somewhere along the line....


Thank you Owlstalk and Mark Lewis!

Edited by cbr_bob
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 In response to that posting, "cbrbob" replied "they blew all the money on hookers". Another user then interjected "it's not a hooker we need, it's a striker", to which "cbrbob" responded "they wouldn't know the difference".

Still makes me laugh - a true Owlstalk classic that was nearly lost as a result of the legal action.

Edited by FAT OWL
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is the Brian Laws story...

I'm not suing fans says Laws

By Paul Thompson

MANAGER Brian Laws has divorced himself from the Owls' possible libel action against fans.

His name appeared on a list of claimants in legal documents relating to the case, along with the names of the club itself plus chief executive Kaven Walker and all the directors.

But Laws has had his name removed from the affair and is hammering home the message: "There is no way I as an individual am trying to sue any fans."

He has raised the issue with Owls officials and contacted the club's legal advisers to have his name officially removed from the documentation.

He explained: "My name was there as I am the manager and come under the umbrella of the organisation, which as a business has taken a certain stance on an issue, but this is nothing to do with me personally and I have taken the necessary action to make sure that this is clear."

Laws reaffirmed his admiration for the way fans in general

have stuck by the club: "They've been absolutely first class. I want to reward them for that and bring the better times back. I'm working feverishly to make sure that's the case, and give something back that they deserve.

"I have a lot of faith in myself, the players and the fans."

Wednesday announced last week that they are considering legal action over fans' postings on a website which they claim have been untrue and damaging, and the club spoke of a need to protect its reputation.



Owlstalk Shop




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest mkowl

Definitely support you on this


On a side issue it worried me immensely that this country could have sleepwalked into press and media regulation by the back door as a result of what the NoW and other media outlets did. Still does to an extent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...