Hilton and Gray libel case struck out of court

No outcome in a libel trial is a good one, but a celebration is allowed for Alex Hilton and John Gray who had a case against them struck out today, adding to another unsuccessful attempt by political activist Johanna Kaschke to sting bloggers.

Mr Justice Stalden ruled Kaschke’s lawsuit an “abuse of process” and refused permission to appeal.

In May Kaschke’s libel case against fellow blogger David Osler was also struck out in the High Court.

As Index on Censorship reported it:

Mr Justice Eady ruled that Kaschke’s lawsuit constituted an “abuse of process” as established in the Jameel case.

He also ruled that there was no evidence that Osler’s blog post had been “published” within the 12 months prior to Kaschke bringing the suit. Kaschke had waited over a year from the original publication of Osler’s blog post to sue.

John Gray, in 2008, pontificated on the incoming libel action brought against them, saying:

I do think that with regard to Alex and Labourhome that it is just absolutely outrageous that they are facing any such legal action. I posted the original article on Labourhome and accept responsibility for it. Sue me if you must. If this legal action was to be successful then there would be no Labour, Conservative or whatever blogs which allowed un-moderated comments or posts. Even moderated blogs would be under threat since the law allows spurious claims to be made which cost £1000’s to defend.

Alex “Hilton [was] awarded 10k in interim costs. Gray 250 quid” while the “Claimant [was] ordered to pay £4k interim payment on account of costs” shortly after the “[c]laimant [told the] court that the strike out is a “setback for blogging.”

The case for libel law reform could not be any more urgent (the campaign for which can be found here), but today’s result should send a pretty strong message to Johanna Kaschke – again – that issuing libel writs “like confetti” will not work (to paraphrase Robert Dougans, who represented Osler, Gray and Hilton pro bono).

The background to the case has been provided on the Jack of Kent blog by the tireless David Green.

The full judgement can be read here (essential)

The contested case of Johanna Kaschke is as follows (quoted from Harry’s Place):

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’.”

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