The Bickerstaffe Record
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About me

Should I sue?

10.25.10 | 2 Comments

In response to the criticisms set out on this blog and picked up by the press,  the Council’s poor consultation process over how the council is governed, a senior Tory councillor has said to the press (not online):

We as an administration prefer to debate topics at council rather than comment on one sided opinions in a blog which, because of the language used, frequently has to be altered.

This is a very odd statement.

First, what this blog carried was simply a copy of the Labour group’s formal consultation response, which was presented for discussion at council last week. Interestingly, the council mistimed the consultation period, and because our comments were submitted at the end of that period they were not included in the original council papers, which had to be revised to account for our input.  

Second, the comments about this blog are wrong.

I have NEVER altered a blogpost, other than to correct the odd typing mistake. 

What I HAVE done, from memory, is the following:

1) I updated a post with new information, when a Tory councillor contacted me to say he had tried to contact me, after I said he had not.  I accepted readily that he had done, that the message had gone astray somewhere, and updated the blog accordingly.  The update had nothing to with my use of language, but related to the fact of whether or not a contact effort had been made.

2)  I deleted a fairly technical post about the difference between two different measures of unemployment, after it became clear from a reader comment that I had failed to take the convergence of ILO unemployment and job claimant unemployment rates in recessionary times.   This made the point of the post invalid, and so I deleted it with an explanation as to why.  Again, use of language was not an issue.

3) I deleted a post after it became clear that offence had been taken to my satirical take on local events.  I explained myself fully here.

So I repeat. I have NEVER altered a post, other than for minor typographical mistakes.  To suggest that the kind of ‘language’ I use means that I alter posts ‘regularly’ could be considered disparaging of my character, without due cause.

It was with interest therefore that I read an ‘Advice Note’ from the Council’s legal department this morning, in which the law of defamation was covered:

Defamation occurs when there is publication to a third party of words or matters containing an untrue imputation against the reputation of a person or business, which serves to undermine that reputation in the eyes of right thinking members of society generally, by exposing the victim to hatred, contempt or ridicule.

The statement that my language on this blog is such  that I need to change the blog regularly seems to me to be in this broad area, in that I might be exposed to ridicule or contempt through an ‘untrue imputation’.

So the question is: should I take legal action to defend my name?

I’ll be giving this some consideration.

2 Comments

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