Libel Laws

Johanna Kaschke vs Labour bloggers

You might remember Johanna Kaschke:

Ms Kaschke, as a student and member of the centre-left SPD in her native West Germany in the 1970s, helped to organise a benefit concert for Rote Hilfe, an organisation officially designated ‘left-extremist’ by the state; the gig was designed to raise funds for the legal fees of Baader-Meinhof Gang suspects; that she was herself subsequently arrested on suspicion of terrorism; and that she spent several months on remand, after which she was released and compensated for unfair imprisonment.

It is further uncontested that Ms Kaschke nominated herself as Labour candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow in 2007; that she received just one vote; that shortly thereafter she defected to George Galloway’s Respect party; shortly after that, she joined an as-yet-unspecified Communist Party; and that shortly after that, she became a Conservative.

She was, in other words, a member of four political parties in 12 months.

She also appears in the following “video outlining her thoughts on the New World Order here. ‘Even Jesus is such a personification of naturally occuring solar lifecycles’. ‘All great men in history were involved in Masonic lodges, from Lenin to Clinton’.”:

The new world order

Johanna Kaschke | MySpace Videos

One feels natural sympathy for Ms Kaschke, who in a more enlightened society, would receive extensive support from the medical and social services.

In the United Kingdom, however, she is permitted to parade what others might regard as a severe personality disorder before a variety of High Court Judges and Libel juries. Depressingly, she has managed to drag a series of bloggers along there with her.

Here is Dave Osler on the predicament in which he, and two other bloggers, find themselves:

LONGSTANDING readers may remember that I am facing libel action from Tower Hamlets Tory activist Johanna Kaschke – as featured in the YouTube clip above – following a post about her on this blog in 2007. She is also suing two other Labour Party members, Alex Hilton and John Gray, over related issues.

Alex, of course, is prospective parliamentary candidate for Chelsea & Fulham, surely an easy peasy Labour gain in the current political climate. Bankruptcy, which will result for all three of us if Ms Kaschkde prevails, will disqualify him from becoming an MP.

I spent all day yesterday in the High Court, listening to Alex’s appeal that an application for summary judgement be upheld, and I’m just about to head off for a second helping. His case is being argued on a point of law, rather than the underlying merits of the matter. The ruling will probably come about lunch time.

Meanwhile, I’m on for a four-day jury trial, which will cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds, and is set to commence on November 23. ‘Overtly Tory’ blogger Iain Dale has agreed in principle to appear as an expert witness on my behalf, which should underline that this is more than simply a party political spat.

This is an absolute disgrace.

It is also a pretty depressing indictment of our ridiculous law of Defamation.We are more exposed than most blogs, in that we often write about those on the Islamist and neo Nazi far Right. The activists in both these groupings often express revolting views, support or engage in terrorism, and generally conduct themselves in a manner that invites comment. Because the law of Defamation is stacked in favour of the claimant, merely to report what these people do exposes this blog to the threat of litigation. The neo Nazis, sensibly, do not sue. The Islamists, however, have a pet lawyer, who merrily whacks out letters before action, alleging that his clients – who are variously racists, supporters or members of terrorist groups, or are other forms of extremist – have been defamed by us, merely because we report on their words, deeds, and associations. We’ve not publicised all the letters we’ve received of this sort from this man, but there have been a number.

If Alex Hilton loses, then it would be sensible for English blogs to shut comments. We will be forced seriously to consider doing so. Meanwhile, we offer whatever comradely support we can to Dave Osler, and will be following his travails closely.

There is something seriously wrong with our law of defamation, isn’t there?