I just noticed that our missing Eastcliff Richard has re-appeared or indeed been resurrected, once again, on his website, with a statement of apology which appears to have been drafted by a solicitor.
It comes in the week that I read and approved a blogging 'protocol' offering practical guidance for councillors and in the same period, that another local councillor, Mark Nottingham, (see Tony Flaig's comments on Big News Margate) appears to disregard the sensible recommendations and advice given in the same document.
Readers will be familiar with my views on blogging in regard to the risk it carries where the law governing defamation and libel is involved. I am directly responsible for what appears on this weblog and should someone leave a malicious and false, un-moderated comment, that person can be sued as well.
It's all a question of money and how deep the pockets of the offended party might be. The average man in the street can't afford the expensive solicitors fees involved in pursuing a libel action and the cost of a court order being placed on a company, such as Google, to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger. A big company can frequently afford to protect its reputation and pursue a blogger through the courts.
From what I understand, perhaps two of our local bloggers are reportedly the subject of litigation, as a consequence of publishing unsubstantiated rumours which might send any good libel lawyer pale. From experience of such things, I'm guessing that the cost of good specialist advice in such matters is close to £3,000, in simply dealing with a preliminary complaint; defending any potential libel action being an expensive business.
So maybe some good will come from this example, in that those who believe that blogging offers unrestrained and unaccountable free-speech, may now understand that it's an illusion and that blogging carries with it, the same responsibilities and consequences as any other form of self-expression.