Alex Hilton has not had a good day if my reading of this interim judgement in the High Court is correct. Reading between the lines, it could have severe implications for all bloggers. In short, he is being sued because of an article posted on Labour Home which intimated that someone had been suspected of being a member of a terrorist organisation. Until he got a complaint from the person concerned, Alex had been unaware of the article as it had been autoposted on the site. His defence was that he knew nothing about it and therefore the case should not proceed to trial. The High Court disagreed. Having said that, although Alex was ruled against on striking out the case, the Judge did seem more sympathetic on some of the points of law raised by him in his case.
It's difficult to tell what the consequences of this may be, and it's probably best to leave this to a lawyer to speculate on. But it does make me wonder if I am very safe in moderating comments. Quite often I block moderate them (if I have been in a long meeting, for example) which means I cannot possibly read every single one of them. But by the very act of pressing APPROVE, a court might find, if there was a problem, that I had indeed known about the comment, even if I hadn't - if you see what I mean.
I haven't spoken to Alex, but I feel desperately sorry for him in having to put up with this needless ordeal. There but for the grace of God, etc etc.
Now that the case is proceeding to trial, it is going to cost him an arm and a leg. We should all help him in this because potentially it could shut us all down if we're not willing to take any risks.
UPDATE: Guido has just left this comment: "Hilton is happy with the ruling, he din't get her case struck out, but she got told in no uncertain terms she wasn't going to win." If he's happy, I'm happy, but if costs aren't awarded to him when it comes to court, his pockets will have to be very deep.