Chortle reports that Vegas is suing[2] over the allegations made by the Guardian[1] and hinted at in The Times. The original story sparked a (justifiable) series of complaints and posts, including boycott and letter writing as well as a good explanation from Jennie about why the audience and alleged victim may have kept quiet.

Vegas himself has not commented fully but has said I haven't done anything wrong (ETA: since I wrote this, the Press Gazette has covered the story and has comments from Vegas[3]). Given the nature of the UK libel laws this makes sense—his lawyers will've told him to stay quiet and not mention specifics, and they'll likely push for an out of court settlement. If it does go to court, unfortunately, the odds are in his favour to win the case. English libel law notoriously favours the plaintiff and all he he needs to demonstrate is that his reputation was hurt (uncontestable); the Guardian'll need to, they need to demonstrate that their version of events is a reasonable interpretation (and he'll only need a few audience witnesses to say otherwise unfortunately). Teh Graun pretty much needs the girl herself to come forward else they've lost. Have I mentioned English libel law is an arse? I think I might've.

Of course, he does have a few witnesses on his side already, this commenter at the Evening Standard Comedy Blog for example:
I too was at the show on Friday and from my vantage point in the second row, I can honestly say that the female audience member in question appeared to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Coming off stage she looked as if she had just won the lottery.
and as Chortle observes:
Did his ‘victim’ feel uncomfortable, too? Undoubtedly. I certainly did. Did she feel abused? Only she can tell. It’s the million dollar question that Vegas’s reputation rests upon. Or maybe the damage has already been done.
We'll be watching this one closely I suspect. Tim? I'll be in touch mate.

[1] Guardian has removed the story as a result of the action, it was here.

[2] A few of the articles I link to have now been removed or locked down by the sites that published them due to liability concerns—no one wants to get sued for libel. Worth reiterating to commenters that under the T&Cs of Livejournal, each individual is responsible for their own comments—this is a public post and Schillings have a rep for searching blogs (see tag).

[3] From Tim at Bloggerheads in his post linking here. A note for non-LJ commenters )
This one made me laugh. Dramatis Personae: The story? Well, it got Slashdotted:

Collapsed UK Bank Attempts to Censor Wikileaks

In their legal demand to Wikileaks, Northern Rock's well-known media lawyers, Schillings, invoke the DMCA & WIPO, claim it'll be 10 years in prison for Wikileaks operators for not following the UK injunction, but then, incredibly, refuse to hand over a copy of the order unless Wikileaks' London lawyers promise not to give it to Wikileaks.
That's right, not content to try to censor a blogger for republishing stuff already in his book, they've now managed to attempt to censor a website specifically set up to stop censorship, by claiming copyright on the documents. Now, of course, they may have a legal case, but, um, guys? Don't you think you could learn from your mistakes?

Odds of me looking at the document in question before today? Minimal. But I've read it now. Nice try guys.
Hmm, this is, I think, rather amusing. Those, um, impartial advisers acting as lawyers for Alisher Usmanov say on their site:
Using the law to protect reputations is our specialism.
Hmm. Some hyperbolic musings on my part )

ETA: [ profile] liadnan in the comments here makes a very good, and informed point, from the perspective of a practicing barrister:
By and large the lawyer's (or at least the solicitor's -professional obligations are slightly different at the bar-) job is to advise -within the law- on possible courses of action which may achieve the client's wishes, and then, once the client has decided, carry out the chosen course, not to make decisions for their client based on their own political, social, or moral beliefs about what the law should be.
He's right, of course, the law firm itself can't be blamed specifically for acting on behalf of their client, but then, I've always known I'd make a terrible lawyer...
One of the advantages of having an image in your sidebar hosted at Tim Ireland's site is that when it comes back up, the image reappears to tell you. Bloggerheads itself has a holding page, he needs to reconfigure the database, but he's got a blogger hosted temporary site all about The Alisher Usmanov Affair and today he's specifically requesting a response from Fasthosts:
To ensure we broadcast as clear a picture as possible, Clive and I need to deal with this matter by addressing the parties/issues involved in the following order:

- Fasthosts
- Schillings
- Alisher Usmanov
- UK libel law

Today, we begin with Fasthosts.
The Fasthosts issue is a contractual/specific libel case one, that I'm not involved in, I have however removed them from my potential list of companies to rent a server from (I am looking) in the meantime, pending their response. The libel law is where my obvious interest lies, the law can, and should be, reformed, and this may be the cause celebre to get it done, we shall see. in the meantime, Chris Applegate asks:
I figured an article that doesn’t mention the allegations specifically but still discusses them is better than no article at all. But in the light of reading all the blog coverage of this now, I have my doubts: Am I right, or have I cowardly compromised? Your thoughts are welcome.
Personally, I think he was correct to be cautious. Craig Murray, by all accounts, thinks he has a solid case and welcomes the opportunity to test it in court, Schillings/Usmanov seem to want to quash the story but not actually sue (that's my big issue with the law as is, money can suppress a story by threat of legal action). But those not party to the evidence itself need to be circumspect--I have reason to believe Craig may be correct, but I have no plans on going to court over his story. Giving coverage to the action, but not the details of the story itself, seems to me to be a valid compromise.
K, briefly, something very serious, but I need to follow it up properly. Read this:
Chicken Yoghurt » Public Service Announcement - Craig Murray, Tim Ireland, Boris Johnson, Bob Piper...
Then go on to read these
Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » Wealth (n). Impunity.
The Devil's Kitchen: Directing action against UK libel laws

The US allows for hosts to be covered by, amongst other things, common carrier status. The UK doesn't. I've mentioned the stupidity of the UK libel laws before. But for Tim's business, and the websites of two completely unrelated well known professional clients to be simply taken down because Fasthosts appear to be running scared? That's not good.

I suspect a change to the law will be needed. Scarily, wouldn't take much, especially if someone like Boris Johnson is already directly involved. Might want a letter writing/emailing campaign. More to follow.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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