May 24, 2013

Be careful what you tweet…….

Last November, Newsnight alleged that a Conservative politician had sexually abused boys in the care of a children's home in the 1970s and 1980s. Lord McAlpine was not named during the programme however it was indicated that the politician in question was a "leading Conservative politician" from the Thatcher era. Lord McAlpine was then wrongfully identified on the internet.

Two days after the programme Sally Bercow tweeted "Why is Lord McAlpine trending. *innocent face*". Despite apologising for the tweet in four subsequent tweets Mrs Bercow denied that her original tweet had been defamatory. The judge has however ruled that was not the case and that the tweet could  be read as meaning that the Conservative peer was a "paedophile who was guilty of sexually abusing boys living in care" and so was libellous.

Today's ruling makes it clear- be careful what you tweet as you can be sued for libel for defamatory allegations.

If you have any comments in relation to this blog please contact John North, Head of Corporate and Commercial on 020 7583 2222 or [email protected] or Sonia Mohammed [email protected].

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