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Joined: 09 Sep 2006
|Posted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 1:47 pm Post subject: PRIVATE EYE, UK
|PRIVATE EYE, UK
28 September 2007. Page 10
~By Nick Cohen
The most relentless opponent of freedom of speech in England is not MI5, the
Downing Street press office or Muslim Council of Britain but a sombre
lawyer, whose colleagues can't remember the last time he cracked a joke.
Mr Justice Eady has found against reporters so often that the Law Lord,
Lord Hoffman, slapped him down being 'hostile' to responsible journalism in
the public interest. He is single-handedly inventing a right to privacy -
even though no such right existed in the common law - and assorted celebs
are grateful for his efforts. Every now and again, the wider public notice
the stifling atmosphere in the High Court. Eady was widely ridiculed when he
granted a gagging order to a prominent figure in the sports world who had
had an affair with another man's wife. The judge insisted that on account
could the husband reveal the adulterer's name to the media - a novel ruling
which meant that for the first time in the history of human affairs men had
'a duty of confidence' to adulterers who bed their wives.
But it's not randy sportsmen who are going to place Eady under
unprecedented scrutiny but the Eye's old friend Sheikh Khaild bin Mahfouz.
As we reported in the last issue, the Saudi plutocrat has used the English
libel courts to punish authors who repeat the claim by the US Treasury that
his charity funded terrorism - a libellous allegation, he says, because he
was not involved in the running of the charity.
Among the many books he has gone to law over is, In 2004 he sued Dr Rachel
Ehrenfeld, the author of Funding Evil How Terrorism is Financed and How to
Stop it and Eady duly ordered Ehrenfeld to apologize, retract and pay bin
Mahfouz $225,913 in costs and damages. What was breath-taking was not
Mahfouz's victory, he's had many of those as the Eye explained in the last
issue, but that Eady agreed to hear it all.
Ehrenfeld is an American and Funding Evil was published by an American house.
There was no British edition and no promotion of the book in Britain. If he had sued
in America where freedom of speech is respected and public figures can't win unless
they can prove that an author acted with a reckless disregard for the truth,
Mahfouz would have lost. Instead of going to law, they fight their critics
before the court of public opinion Eady allowed him to sue in Britain where
the presumption of guilt falls squarely on the defendant's shoulders because
copies had been brought over here via Amazon - 23 copies to be precise.
Eady worked on the assumption that Mahfouz was a well thought-of man
with a good reputation to lose even though the Saudi had been caught up in
the BCCI banking scandal and paid a fine of $225 million, and as part of the
settlement with the US authorities. He then found for Mahfouz's favour
though the court hadn't heard Ehrenfeld's defence - the first ever
declaration of falsehood in a case that had not been contested by a judge
and jury. She refused to leave America because as 'a matter of principle to
submit to a legal system less protective of free speech than our own.'
Now she's fighting back. A brief submitted by her lawyers to the Court of
Appeals of the State of New York ask the judges to declare that Eady's
judgements are enforceable in the US. It describes Mahfouz a 'serial libel
tourist' a part of 'mounting and insidious trend when a person, usually
prominent and wealthy heads to London' to exploit an authoritarian law. The
American press is on Ehrenfeld's side. The veteran reporters Mark Hosenball
and Michael Isikoff cite the combination of Saudi money and English judges
as a potent threat to investigative journalism. They fear that if Eady isn't
challenged US publishers a climate of fear will develop and American
publishers will refuse to hard-hitting books on the Internet for fear they
might reach England.
Ehrenfeld describes in her brief how Mahfouz's agents told her and her
publishers that they must destroy all copies of the book. On one occasion
she alleges that a man came to her home in New York who told her, 'You had
better respond. Sheikh bin Mahfouz is a very important person and you ought
to take good care of yourself'.
Somewhat bizarrely, for a foreigner who brought a case in London against a
book that hadn't been published in Britain, Mahfouz will argue that the US
courts don't have the jurisdiction to hear the case.
If Ehrenfeld wins, libel lawyers will lose a lot of money, and British
publishers may consider printing controversial books in the US.
If she loses, libel lawyers will become richer still as ever more
billionaires flock to London to ask Mr Justice Eady to control what is said
about them, not just in England, but across the world.
Ms. G. Goldwater
JUDEA & SAMARIA are clear and unquestionably JEWISH!
MiddleEast Political Expressions
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