Dave Osler libel case decision

Dave Osler writes one of the best left wing blogs in the UK. For the past two years he has been fighting a libel case, details of which are posted on the excellent Jack of Kent blog. The decision will be handed down today in the high court, from Mr Justice Eady of the Simon Singh case fame. (UPDATE: full decision is here.)

This morning Jack of Kent has also been formally threatened with libel by the same individual targeting Dave Osler.

You’ll be able to follow the latest information at


Osler has won.[Picture] Eady has struck out the entire claim as Abuse Of Process. The case was brought by Johanna Kaschke.

Her MySpace page is here, where you can watch a nice video from her.

Here is the blog post that led to the libel attempt:

Respect member’s “Baader-Meinhoff link”

Johanna Kaschke – recent defector from New Labour to Respect – was in the 1970s held in custody in her native Germany, charged with support for the ultraleftist Baader-Meinhof terrorist group.

Ms Kaschke – pictured left – denies any wrongdoing, although she admits to having organised some sort of benefit gig:

‘All I ever did was organise a music concert in the University of Würzburg Mensa. This got me sacked from my job in the University bookshop Schöning and I also then lost my home.’

She has recently launched a complaint against leading German news magazine Der Spiegel for an article it wrote three decades ago, naming her in this connection. Rather than trying to hide any of this, Ms Kaschke has commendably chosen instead to post a copy of the story on her own website. She goes on to write:

‘I can safely say I never met any of the other persons mentioned in the article and got released after three months of prison on remand and was paid compensation for wrongful arrest and imprisonment two years later.’

If we take this account at face value – and I have no reason not to – the worst she stands accused of is youthful folly. After all, many young attracted to far left politics in the 1970s were passively sympathetic to groups such as the Baader-Meinhof gang. Most have subsequently been rehabilitated.

Former Angry Brigade suspect Angela Mason these days boasts an Order of the British Empire gong and sits on quangos. Even I used to wear a Brigate Rosse T-shirt, as modelled by Joe Strummer. Ms Kaschke appears to have come to political terms with all this:

‘Frankly I cannot understand how such educated university graduates like the Baader Meinhof people fell for this illusion that the state is only a paper tiger and they can win an urban guerrilla war against them.

‘Now with al Qaeda again we have people believing they go to paradise after they blew themselves up and that they are good Muslims if they cause a lot of destruction.

‘Terrorism is the enemy of all Socialism as it creates exactly the opposite reaction, it makes the state more right wing and is likely to destroy all Socialist advances made by peaceful negotiation.

‘If I knew of someone planning a terrorist atrocity I would definitely report them to the authorities because it’s not right. I believe that people being put up to those guerrilla activities are being used by some people for exactly the purpose to create a right-wing movement.’

The thing is, she may find that not all of her new colleagues in Respect share her stance. Respect MP George Galloway, for instance, believes it would be morally justified for a suicide bomber to kill Tony Blair.”


The judgement is on line here.

It is necessary, therefore, to try and assess what a jury would make of the alleged injury to Ms Kaschke’s reputation against the background I have described. If the jury came to the conclusion that none of the defences raised could succeed, I cannot imagine that the damages would be other than very modest. I would take the view that any such award would be out of all proportion to the time and money spent on this litigation and, in particular, to the cost of a two-week jury trial.

In the circumstances, I have come to the conclusion that this is indeed one of those unusual cases in which the doctrine of abuse of process, as discussed by the Court of Appeal in Jameel, should be applied.

In case I am wrong about this, I should next address Mr Dougans’ alternative arguments. First, as to limitation, it is clearly right in principle that Ms Kaschke should be confined to any publication(s) within the 12 month period preceding the date of issue. That being so, it becomes yet more apparent how disproportionate the claim is.

An order is being applied for to declare this woman a vexatious litigant.