Author sues reviewer over comments on Amazon

A father of three from Nuneaton, UK, appeared in the High Court yesterday to face libel allegations over a book review he wrote on Amazon.

Vaughan Jones, 28, appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday for a hearing to defend himself against the libel suit from online entrepreneur Chris McGrath.

McGrath, author of “The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know,” undertook libel action against Jones, after he published a review of the book on Amazon, and comments regarding the book and Mr McGrath himself on Richard Dawkins’s website during September and October 2010. Jones also outed McGrath as the author of the book, which had been written under the pseudonym “Scrooby”.

McGrath is not only suing Jones for his allegedly defamatory comments, but Amazon, Richard Dawkins himself, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

Presided over by His Honour Judge Maloney QC, Jones was joined by legal representation for Amazon and the Richard Dawkins Foundation to ascertain if there is a case to answer.

Entrepreneur turned author McGrath believes that Amazon and the Richard Dawkins Foundation did not respond appropriately to the alleged defamatory statements on the respective websites, and thus they are also liable for a defamation suit.

John Kampfner, the Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, said: “That a family man from Nuneaton can face a potentially ruinous libel action for a book review on Amazon shows how archaic and expensive our libel law is.”

Kampfner added that the Libel Reform Campaign, which is underway with English Pen and Sense about Science, is hoping to commit to a bill in the next Queen’s speech to reform the chilling effect libel has on freedom of speech.

The hearing continues today

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  1. [...] and others.  Judgment was reserved.  The case concerned comments on Amazon. Index on Censorship has a piece here and the Independent previewed the case [...]