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McLibel Support Campaign
P R E S S . R E L E A S E . 29/06/02
London Bookshops Resist Libel Threat Against Anti-Fascist Material
Urgent Solidarity Appeal - 29th June 2002
We enclose details below of libel threat to Housman's Bookshop, the non-commercial London bookshop which we share an address with, and which gave us so much support during the McLibel case. It is part of a pattern of recent legal threats against bookshops carrying anti-fascist information and magazines. The bookshops concerned have launched an appeal and a support campaign.
The Housman's case is due in the High Court - Court 14 of the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand (Holborn tube) - on Monday 1st July, 10.30am. They welcome public messages of support, donations, and attendance at the Court.
BOOKSHOP LIBEL FUND
c/o Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX (tel 020-7278 4474); c/o Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE (tel 020-7637 1848).
BOOKSHOP LIBEL LATEST -- Test case in High Court starts Monday 1 July
Earlier this month a press release was circulated about the relaunch of the Bookshop Libel Fund, set up to support radical bookshops which were being targeted by people criticised in anti-fascist magazines.
One of the cases is coming to court on Monday, and is expected to last for 2 days or more. Anyone wanting to come along and show support would be very welcome. The case of Baron v Housmans starts at 10.30am in Court 14, at the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2 (at the eastern end of Strand, almost in Fleet Street; nearest tube Holborn).
This is the first of this series of libel cases against bookshops to actually reach court. It is also important as the first time that a shop has tried to use the statutory "innocent dissemination" defence introduced in the 1996 Defamation Act.
For background to the case, see the press release circulated recently announcing the relaunch of the Bookshop Libel Fund, or contact the fund as above.
Monday's case, Baron v Housmans, is against Housmans Bookshop, a radical bookshop in Kings Cross, London, which is linked to the 65-year-old pacifist paper Peace News. The litigant, who currently uses the name Alexander Baron, claims to have been libelled in a publication called At War With the Universe which was stocked in Housmans in 1999 and 2000. He has taken action only against the bookshop, not against the author or publisher of the publication concerned.
The Bookshop Libel Fund appeal is supported by the Booksellers Association and a wide range of groups and individuals; it needs funds extremely urgently. Even if any award of damages against a minor defendant like a bookshop was minimal - or indeed even if the libel accusation was thrown out altogether - the legal costs could still be sufficient to bankrupt a struggling, non-commercial bookshop. (There is no expectation that a person bringing such a case would be able to pay the defendants' costs if their action failed; anyone launching such an action doesn't have to first show that they could pay the defence costs if they lost.)
Please pass on this information - thanks!