Posted by Tom Foremski - August 3, 2009
Mike Arrington, the publisher of Techcrunch lost a libel suit in the UK brought by a former employee. Dennis Howlett, over at ZDNet broke the news this morning: Michael Arrington snared in libel verdict: lessons for us
I'd heard about this story on Friday and that it would break on Monday. It's interesting from the standpoint that talking badly about other people from a prominent media platform can be damaging. That's why the UK has strong libel laws.
Mr Arrington had said some nasty things about Sam Sethi and so Mr Sethi filed a libel suit in the UK, where he lives. Mr Arrington said that since the UK courts had no jurisdiction in the US he wouldn't defend himself. He lost the suit and also lost all rights to appeal because he didn't recognize the courts decision.
This means that Mr Arrington can be arrested the next time he visits the UK or any EU country. Dennis Howlett explains:
Sethi tells me that his costs are of the order of £30,000 and the plaint calls for monetary damages of up to £50,000.
Further since this will constitute a debt to the court, should Arrington attempt to enter the UK without first having settled the matter, he might be liable to immediate arrest and incarceration.
Mr Arrington's response:
I've had to cancel my London FOWA speaking engagement, and certainly won't be visiting that country any time soon. Which is a shame since I have so many friends there.
Foremski's Take: It's a shame that this entire mess took place. Mr Arrington should be aware that using his media platform to say nasty things about someone else carries considerable weight of responsibility. This is why journalists are always very careful in bringing any charges of dishonesty or criminal behavior against anyone, unless they have solid proof, because they understand the responsibility of their position.
Mr Arrington is not a journalist but he is a former lawyer. You would think he would know better.
Instead of avoiding the UK or Europe as a whole Mr Arrington should just pay the 80,000 pounds ($135,600) and learn from his mistake. The award has been promised to charity. Pay up, and chalk it up, imho.
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Here's Mike Arrington's side of the story
Here is Dennis Howlett:Tweet this story Follow @tomforemski
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