Last week's ruling does not bring an end to this farcical action, it simply allows Simon to use the defence of fair comment when the action finally reaches court. Simply to reach this preliminary stage the proceedings have cost both parties a total of £200,000 - proof, if such were needed, that libel remains a rich man's game with the only beneficiaries being m'learned friends. Without the fair comment defence, under Britain's archaic libel laws, Simon would have had to prove his comments were factually true as opposed to an opinion, an experience that England's law lords compared to "an Orwellian Ministry of Truth."
So the battle to reform Britain's libel laws and defend freedom of speech continues. It is shameful that despite promises from the Labour Government for reform the UN human rights committee's criticism of the current system, published in 2008, still stands: "The law law of libel has served to discourage critical media reporting on matters of public interest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work."
I urge you all to sign the petition at www.libel-reform.org.
Manchester solicitor Mark Lewis, who acted for Sheffield Wednesday fan Nigel Short and Owlstalk in another recent action, sent me his commentary which I'm pleased to publish here. You can read the background to the Nigel Short story on George Monbiot's blog here.