December 02, 2004

Galloway Wins Libel Case

Steve Bell's Cartoon from The Guardian Newspaper
Maggies Pants is no fan of George Galloway per se. I didn't vote for Respect despite being anti-war and think he's got too many skeletons in the closet to be considered a serious politician. However, the smear campaign that greeted his noisy anti-war stance was as disgraceful as it was predictable. The government couldn't shut him up, so they attempted to discredit him. Today Galloway won his libel case against the Telegraph newspaper who accused him of taking money from Saddam Hussein. He has been awarded £150,000 in damages for the "outrageous and incredibly damaging" allegations to boot. Indeed, it was always a difficult case for the Telegraph to win - they never had solid proof, just a mention of Galloway in documents apparently unearthed in Iraq. Indeed, the Telegraph's defence was never that the allegations were provably true but that they had "qualified privilege" in printing them in the first place - that is, they can print untruths as long as it turns out to be in the 'public interest'. Note to tabloid editors: it means to the public's benefit, not that they're 'interested' per se as some of you have laughably tried to argue in recent legal cases. That the Telegraph has lost the case sends a clear message - smear campaigns in issues as serious as he war in Iraq had better be bloody good if they're to work. Indeed, such was the gravity of the error in publishing palpably untrue smears against Galloway - whatever his many faults - it should lead to the resignation of Martin Newland, the Telegraph's editor. It won't, but it should. It's interesting to see that although Telegraph.co.uk have published a factual account of the case result they have removed the offending original article and leader comment. Fortunately for us, Google cache keeps their smears live forever!