Freedom of expression, the blogosphere, Uzbek billionaires, and webhosts


 (on the IT law front) and other politically interested observers.

Have you seen the story about the Uzbek billionaire, currently expanding his share interest in a large English football team, and his latest legal activities?

Former British ambassador Craig Murray has an interesting blog (pointed out to me the other week by

 I think).  However, if you tried to visit the site this morning you’d find the cupboard bare.  Similarly if you regularly read Tim Ireland’s bloggerheads you’d find the cupboard bare there too; as well as other sites (who have not referred to the story at all – including one Boris Johnson).  The full story is on chickenyoghurt detailing the successful legal effort by an Uzbek billionaire against a webhost leading to the removal of lots of websites.  Only Tim Ireland and Craig Murray posted about the billionaire – Murray merely repeating tales from his book “Murder in Samarkand” published a couple of years ago and subject to no legal action – but as the billionaire has moved in to purchase Arsenal FC legal activity has increased.  At one point Tim Ireland posted a link to septicisle indicating that the billionaire’s lawyers had requested the removal of copyrighted letters which seemed to ask septicisle to remove posts (or links to posts) by Murray.

Murray has repeatedly called on the billionaire to sue him for defamation about the stories he is objecting to stressing in one recent post that his stories are true.  GIven that Murray’s blog is out of order the terms of his reply to the Guardian journalist who wrote about the billionaire’s actions against the blogosphere are extracted here

“no – [the lawyers] have had no contact with me, except I phoned them to make sure they could find me for a writ! My webhost received a legal threat from [the lawyers], and my webhost responded to the threat of legal action by taking down one of my articles. I withdraw nothing. I want [the billionaire] to sue me. …  I know enough about him, and enough potential witnesses, to give him a torrid time in a UK court beyond even the ability of [the lawyers] to cover up.

[The billionaire] knows that, and [the lawyers] are obviously bluffing – although they are writing that my book is “libellous”, it has been out for over a year now, sold over 25,000 copies already, and they have done nothing but spout bollocks.

As you may know, my book is being made into a film next year by Michael Winterbottom and Paramount.”

The reaction by the lawyers (to the extent they wouldn’t let people repeat the letters calling for the removal of postings – which struck me a being a bit dodgy on copyright grounds if you fisked the terms for review purposes) and the webhosts seems wholly excessive.  And the billionaire is finding (like others before him) that you can’t silence the internet.  When Iain Dale writes in support of Tim Ireland it’s come to a pretty state of affairs.



About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
This entry was posted in blogosphere, censorship, freedom of expression, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Freedom of expression, the blogosphere, Uzbek billionaires, and webhosts

  1. ramtops says:

    I have Craig Murray’s book on my to-read heap by the bed – I really must move it up.
    This is all very depressing, and I’m deeply unimpressed by it all.

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