22 November 2012 - 8:57am | posted by | 9 comments

Lord McAlpine legal letter assuages fears of Tweeters with fewer than 500 followers

Lord McAlpine legal letter assuages fears of Tweeters with fewer than 500 followersLord McAlpine legal letter assuages fears of Tweeters with fewer than

Lord McAlpine has moved to reassure Twitter users with fewer than 500 followers that he does not intend to cause ‘hardship’ for them as he pursues damages – although those with more will be subject to individual action.

The words came in a letter issued to all Twitter users who fell below that threshold who had tweeted or re-tweeted his name in relation to child abuse allegations arising from a botched Newsnight investigation.

Tweeters who have personally apologised to McAlpine’s lawyers, RMPI, are being asked to provide personal details such as home address, occupation and Twitter details so that the peer can decide how much they should donate to charity, possibly as little as £5, to the BBC’s Children in Need.

An enclosed reconciliation form asks for the number of followers the individuals account has, whether the libellous tweet was original or a re-tweet, whether the tweet has been deleted and (in the case of a re-tweet) the source of the original.

No requests are made for salary or financial statements.

The letter said: “Once we have analysed the information we will let you know how much we shall be asking you to donate to…Children in Need.

“It is not this firm or Lord McAlpine’s intention to create any hardship.”

Comments

22 Nov 2012 - 10:23
jasonstone's picture

Fewer.

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22 Nov 2012 - 10:55
mave114208's picture

Indeed.

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22 Nov 2012 - 10:55
Mark_BigDot93730's picture

I wonder how his legal team plan on enforcing this. Charitable donations are generally done on an anonymous basis, so wouldn't McAlpine's lawyers want to see some evidence that the donation has been made?

These are strange times we live in, whereby a simple tweet/re-tweet can lead to you being strong-armed into either making a charitable donation or 'facing the consequences'.

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22 Nov 2012 - 11:00
jonpaulwade

This is really interesting as it could set a rule for all future cases of defamation on social media, blogs, forums etc.

It also acts as a reminder to everyone that if nobody is listening to you it really does not matter what you say!

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22 Nov 2012 - 11:07
jasonstone's picture

@jonpaulwade The law has to catch up with the modern world. The number of appeals it took to resolve the Paul Chambers 'Robin Hood Airport' case has already demonstrated that the courts are puzzled by Twitter.

I would actually be interested to see whether McAlpine's team would succeed in an action against an individual who retweeted a tweet which named him. In my opinion this should not and cannot be regarded as a libel.

Guardian journalist George Monbiot was among those who identified McAlpine as the senior figure referred to by Newsnight... what if one of his followers tweeted "Monbiot says the Tory is McAlpine"? Could that tweet really be regarded as a libel?

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22 Nov 2012 - 11:38
mave114208's picture

I'm more concerned by the fact that the headline on this story hasn't yet been changed.

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22 Nov 2012 - 11:58
jondavey64615's picture

The irony is that those with fewer than 500 could well be more influential than those with more!

I think this is brilliant and gets people thinking, hang on, we can't just spew our thoughts into the world, we actually need to think about what we are doing... excellent work m'lord.

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22 Nov 2012 - 12:30
lesle10911's picture

Still not sure if reporting that an Al Jazeera journalist named McAlpine and said he was considering suing, prior to programme being shown is libellous. These solicitors have not made it clear what they determine to be libel, even though that could only be established in a court any way. Do feel genuinely sorry that he was connected to this crime, when the victim is now saying he had mistakenly identified him, but should lawyers on fees be able to dispense their own summary justice?

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22 Nov 2012 - 16:02
rosiemilton's picture

Love how he's just making up rules as he goes along, but I think the charity thing is excellent. Although will this pass through court at all??

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