The answer may not be what you think. It seems that South Lanarkshire council have embarked upon the most idiotic defamation action of the year. Over to Jonathan Mitchell QC to explain:
South Lanarkshire Council has long had a certain reputation for Brezhnevism. Recently it seems to have excelled itself by bringing proceedings for defamation in Lanark Sheriff Court against the membership of a local community council for an article on its website which linked to another article on a different organisation’s website entitled “South Lanarkshire Council and Scottish Coal Hand-in-Hand at Community LIE-aison Meeting”. I have never before heard of a Scottish local authority attempting to bring a defamation action at all, let alone one like this which is done purely to shut up ordinary political criticism. No authority with any appreciation of the right of free speech, and its relationship with the rule of law, could abuse the legal system like this.
Quite. And this despite the fact that, as Mitchell points out, a council lacks standing to even bring such an action. In a second post Mitchell elaborates upon the nonsense:
"I have insisted upon an immediate public retraction of the statements made within the article. In addition, the use of the Council logo by Coal Action Scotland at the head of this article without permission is improper use of copyright material owned by the Council. The use of the logo is strictly prohibited without prior authorisation and, therefore, this is a breach of copyright regulations… The article, as well as being inaccurate, also endorses the Coal Action Scotland call for people to post the controversial article and logo on their websites and blogs and I believe that this is both encouraging an act which is potentially actionable by South Lanarkshire Council and also encourages a breach of copyright regulations… both should be removed immediately."
So, to be clear, there is to be no humour in South Lanarkshire. That is strictly prohibited. Instead, there is to be the use of the Court for censorship of dissent.
Indeed. I have no idea whether South Lanarkshire council really is in cahoots with the coal industry and nor, frankly, do I much care. That’s not germane to the issue at hand which is the laughable, yet serious, misuse of the defamation laws. One trusts that no-one will pay any attention to the cooncil’s bleating but since this is the law we’re talking about you can’t be too sure of that.
So sure, the cooncil is full of numpties. On the other hand, who knew it could actually be possible to defame South Lanarkshire…?
[Thanks to Love & Garbage for the tip.]