Twitter libel case won by ex-cricketer over 24 word tweet

Twitter libel case won by ex-cricketer over 24 word tweet

Summary: Lawyers are being engaged more often over alleged defamation through Twitter by injured parties hoping to get justice for insults and bullying. £90,000 is a considerable sum for a 24 word tweet.

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Can a tweet be defamatory?  Apparently it can.  New Zealand cricket all-rounder, Chris Cairns has won £90,000 libel damages over a tweet consisting of just 24 words.

Cairns played cricket in both New Zealand and England.  He retired in 2004 after winning 62 caps for his country.  He captained New Zealand seven times.

Lalit Modi, chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League sent a tweet indicating that Cairns had 'been sacked from an Indian Cricket League team (Chandigarh Lions) because of match-fixing', and not as Cairns states because of knee problems from a charity walk in 2008.

According to Cairns, Modi's comments "completely destroyed me within the cricketing environment". He then pursued Modi through the London courts for damages. You can read the full judgement from the High Courts of Justice here.

This is not the first award for Twitter libel.  In 2011, Fashion Designer Dawn Simorangkir successfully sued singer Courtney Love for defamatory tweets in 2009 which she claimed ruined her fashion career. Love paid out more than £264,000 to settle the case.

Watching what you tweet

Last year the married football player, Ryan Giggs took out a super-injunction to prevent news of his relationship with Imogen Thomas being spread across social media sites.

A UK court initially subpoenaed Twitter for names of  tweeters who had broken the super-injunction by mentioning the footballers name. However, as more and more people rebroadcast the news the hash tag #IAmSpartacus started to trend across Twitter.

Lawyers too, are being engaged more and more over alleged defamation through Twitter by injured parties hoping to get justice for insults and bullying.

Paul Chambers was convicted and fined £1000 for tweeting that he was going to blow Robin Hood airport 'sky high'. Two teenagers were refused entry to the US for tweeting that they were going to 'destroy America'

And this week a man was arrested by police for making allegedly racist comments about Fabrice Muamba, the 23 year old footballer who collapsed with cardiac arrest during a football match.

If you are a brand and you don't yet have a policy documenting how the company would deal with rogue tweeters, defamers and online bullies it might cost you dearly.

And at £3,750 per word, it might have been much cheaper to hire a consultant to write the policy for you...

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3 comments
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  • Does anyone find this ruling surprising?

    I don't see Twitter being any different than other forms of written communincation.
    ye
    • "written communincation [sic]"?

      I'm sorry, but I'm both old school and a former typesetter, and to me, the term written applies only to hard copy media (e.g. newspapers, magazines, et al).

      But I will agree with you that <i>any</i> form of communication - written or electronic - is and should be subject to the same defamition and/or libel laws. Whether a statement is published in print or on the internet - once it's out there, the author is/should be responsible for his/her statement(s), eh?
      Jim Kirk
  • correction

    he played IN england not FOR england.
    Scarface Claw