Friday, 30 August 2013

Christopher Hitchens on England's pre-2013 libel system

Christopher Hitchens explained how his magazine Vanity Fair was sued for libel by Roman Polanski:
"Just for discussing this subject [child abuse] a couple of years ago, my magazine Vanity Fair was sued by Mr Polanski from Paris in London. Not in America but where he thought the jurisdiction would be easier on him. He didn't even have to appear in person because he thought that  might be risky. He made a video deposition. We claimed he had no reputation to defend. He walked away with a lot of our money on a libel judgement saying this couldn't be discussed."
Watch original video here from 4 minutes 50 seconds. Christopher Hitchens had previously explained what happened in a 2009 article for Slate Magazine. He said of the 2005 libel case:
"In July 2005, Polanski took advantage of the notorious British libel laws to sue my colleagues at Vanity Fair and collect damages for his hurt feelings. It doesn't matter much what the supposed complaint was—he had allegedly propositioned a Scandinavian model while purring about making her the next Sharon Tate—so much as it mattered that Polanski would dare to sue on a question of his own moral standing and reputation. "I don't think," he was quoted as saying of the allegation, "you could find a man who could behave in such a way." Say what? Anxious for his thin skin, the British courts did not even put Polanski to the trouble of appearing in a country where he has never lived. They allowed him to pout his outraged susceptibilities by video link before heaping him with fresh money. At this point, I began to feel a cold spot forming in my own heart. And then, just last December, while still on the lam, Polanski filed from abroad to have the original Los Angeles child-rape case, in which he had pleaded guilty, dismissed without further ado.

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