I AM asking all socialists and freethinkers to contribute to a libel appeal on behalf of the socialist bookshop Bookmarks. Bookmarks was sued by Quintin Hoare and Branca Magas, well known figures on the British left. They complained about an article written in 1993 and published in 1999 in the book The Balkans, Nationalism and Imperialism.
Through the well known libel lawyers Carter-Ruck and Partners, Hoare and Magas complained about a passage in the book. No attempt was made by the defendants to justify what they had published. They pointed out that in the year before the writ was issued, the book sold less than 50 copies.
They made a statement in open court apologising, and agreeing to pay the plaintiffs £1,500 damages each. It is a long tradition in our movement that political differences should not be subjected to libel actions, if only because such actions are likely to cost more in lawyers' fees than any damage caused.
In this case, the £3,000 paid in damages will certainly be dwarfed when Carter-Ruck ask for their costs-likely to be in the region of £10,000. Bookmarks of course have no access to that kind of money, so we are trying to raise as much as we can from well-wishers.
Most Socialist Worker readers have gained a lot from Bookmarks, and I appeal to them to contribute to this appeal. Cheques should be made out to Bookmarks Libel Fund.
Send donations to Bookmarks Libel Fund, Bookmarks, 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE. Phone 020 7637 1848 or e-mail [email protected]