Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogger beware: Blog libel and privacy action settled for £150,000

The Guardian reports that an action by Martin Sorrell and Daniela Weber for libel and breach of privacy by way of email and blog has settled without admission of liability for a total of £150,000 - £120,000 to him, £30,000 to her. The level of the settlement (which included a nominal sum for the plaintiffs' costs) appears to reflect the plaintiffs' difficulty in linking the anonymous material to the defendants.

Background to the case:
Two former business partners of advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell launched a "vicious" campaign against him on blogs and emails, a court heard today.

One of his former associates referred in a private email to the WPP boss as a "mad dwarf" and described the company's former chief operating officer in Italy as a "nympho schizo", the High Court in London was told.

Marco Benatti, WPP's former manager in Italy, and his lieutenant Marco Tinelli, were spurred to publish defamatory remarks after Sir Martin sacked Mr Benatti over allegations of financial irregularities at WPP's Italian business, Sir Martin's barrister said.

Opening his case at a libel and invasion of privacy trial, Desmond Browne QC said the two men had taken "countermeasures" against Sir Martin and WPP's chief operating officer in Italy, Daniela Weber. ...

The "counter-measures" against Sir Martin included a blog that appeared in March last year containing a "host of libels" against the WPP boss, Mr Browne said.

Although the blog was taken down after three days, another one appeared a month later, he said.

"The day that Sir Martin managed to get the blog taken down, Mr Benatti emailed his friends saying that blogs were like mushrooms, they sometimes pop up again the next time it rains," Mr Browne said.

"What could be a stronger pointer to Mr Benatti's knowledge of what was going on and his being the architect of the whole exercise than that email shortly after the blogs had been taken down suggested that blogs were like mushrooms?"

Mr Browne said the other "countermeasure" was a series of emails that included a "vicious Jpeg image grossly intruding into the privacy of Sir Martin and Ms Weber".

"Naturally it would be to intrude further to even start to describe them. We say Mr Tinelli was directly involved in the dissemination of that vicious image.

"There is no doubt that he felt just as bitterly towards Sir Martin and Ms Weber as did his boss, Mr Benatti. I say 'no doubt' because on the very morning of the day the images were sent out by email he referred to them as the mad dwarf and the nympho schizo."

Mr Browne said that the two men had taken "elaborate steps to cover their tracks" but that computer evidence implicated them.

1 comment:


    It is now clear that a blogger’s identity/anonymity is not protected by law.