Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dawg v FD Decision

A friend of a friend forwarded me a copy of the ruling in Dr. Dawg's defamation case against Roger Smith and Freedominion.

For those who need a reminder, Dawg had sued Mr. Roger Smith (also known as Peter O'Donnell) for describing him as "one of the Taliban's more vocal supporters" and FD for publishing it.

The highlights are:
  1. the judge found that these words were indeed defamatory; 
  2. FD was indeed a publisher and therefore responsible for these words (their argument denying this "is disingenuous and ignores reality");
  3. because the words occurred within the context of a wider discussion that was within public interest, it could fall within the scope of a defence of fair comment;
  4. demonstration of malice would prevent a defence of fair comment, but because malice was not the dominant motive, fair comment stands.
  5. All parties are responsible for their own costs.
All in all, this looks to me like a draw.  Bloggers and other commenters should note that 'malice' and 'fair comment' are terms of art and applied here to a specific interaction.  Reading between the lines, it looks to me like the FDers had a near miss on 'malice'.

Favourite paragraph?  Obviously §201: 
Given that the entire point of defamation law is to determine the meaning and effect of words, the defendants submit that an incoherent post cannot have any meaning and therefore cannot defame the plaintiff.

Update.  Dawg's take here.