This is merely a footnote and guide to further information (all right, a plug) concerning the issues raised in the post below. That post gives an account of an unfortunately farcical incident in the abuse of the English legal system. When my correspondent Neil Clark started writing to me to threaten legal action in order to cover up his incompetence and misrepresentation of source material, I formed a definite impression of his abilities, and was not disabused of it by anything to come. Some habitually dishonest people are fluent and convincing, but Mr Clark is a danger to himself.
Though he does not perceive and would not appreciate this, I have gone to some lengths to protect him from the consequences of his behaviour. These include most particularly the financial consequences of his abuse of the legal process. They include also a wider knowledge of his lying to and in a newspaper (which I kept back from The Guardian till now) and his practice of faking laudatory comments about himself on third party websites while pretending to be a girl (which I specifically asked my friend Stephen Pollard not to disclose on his blog, as I felt Mr Clark had suffered a surfeit of ridicule). It takes rare stupidity to behave the way Mr Clark has done, and he was not in the league of formidable opponents.
Not everyone who issues threats of libel action will be of this type; in fact I doubt that anyone would be. In the current climate, for bloggers or media professionals, it is time well invested to read an expert account of the current state of law as it affects the media, and especially libel law as it affects the Web. There is, as chance would have it, a new book that I have found especially helpful and (seriously) a joy to read. It is called Media Law, by Peter Carey and others. The authors are all partners of Charles Russell LLP; the extensive chapter on defamation was written by the lawyer who represented me against Mr Clark, and to whom I invariably now refer any other cranks who write to me claiming that I've libelled them. In parts (e.g., when discussing the libel case colloquially known as "Wayne Rooney and the Auld Slapper") it is marked by dry wit that I would not think typical of legal texts.