PM George Galloway won his case against Jcom, a non-profit Jewish radio station in London for broadcasting a defamatory radio segment accusing him of anti-Semitism. The radio program is broadcast over the Internet to a tiny audience — only 36 people heard the juvenile segment by Richard Malach.
During the Novermber broadcast Malach called himself “Georgie Galloway”, the station’s “Middle East correspondent” and used the catchphrase, “kill the Jews, kill the Jews”. Jcom filed Malach immediately, issued an apology on its website and offered Mr Galloway the opportunity to appear on the station. Galoway sued instead.
Mr Justice Eady ruled that the words used were in “appalling taste” and “Mr Galloway is the founding member of the Respect Party and is prominent in denouncing racism and discrimination, and has no anti-Semitic or racist views.”
The High Court told the station to pay the MP damages of £15,000. The radio station was forced to shutdown.
There is an exception for parody in the United States, but this would be potentially actionable in the United States as well. However, most states have correction and retraction laws that protect news organizations from certain damages. Moreover, we do not have the English Rule — requiring the payment of the other parties attorney’s fees — a very draconian and unwise rule in my view. Finally, in the United States, special damages do not have to be proven in cases of libel and — while broadcast and Internet shows are not written in the classic sense – courts have applied libel rather than slander rules. Yet, with only 36 listeners in a case of parody, the actual damages would appear quite small.
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