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George Galloway’s high street firm faces rough ride as media law big guns back twitterati in libel row

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Bradford-based Chambers Solicitors has picked quite a fight as regulator is put on alert

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Top media lawyers have implored the profession’s watchdog to investigate George Galloway’s law firm over its handling of the MP’s defamation claims against Twitter users.

The backlash against Bradford high street outfit Chambers Solicitors — which is best known for immigration work — began earlier this week after the emergence of a Twitter account called @SuedByGalloway, which implores:

“If you’re being sued by Galloway/Chambers Solicitors/ don’t worry — follow us so we can help you.”

Since then, several media law big guns have been working with the account to assist those threatened by Galloway. Legal Cheek can confirm that at least three well-known London libel lawyers are currently helping the tweeters fight the MP rather than pay demands for up to £5,000.

They include Mark Lewis, the leading media lawyer from the News of the World phone hacking saga, and defamation doyen Mark Stephens.

Lewis, of London law firm Seddons, told Legal Cheek that the costs figure “could never be justified” and that a complaint will be sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The saga began when Chambers Solicitors — acting for the firebrand Respect Party MP for Bradford West — sent at least a dozen tweeters demands that they settle or face defamation proceedings.

Galloway — who was famously expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 following his vocal opposition to the second Iraq invasion before going on to appear on Celebrity Big Brother three years later — alleges that those receiving the claims labelled him anti-Semitic on the social media site.

Responding to the Bradford law firm’s tactics, Lewis told Legal Cheek:

“A lawyer’s duty is to stand up for people who cannot otherwise defend themselves from very threatening demands. Mr Galloway’s solicitors claimed £5,000 plus VAT for standard letters on top of damages. That is horrific and brings the solicitor’s profession into disrepute. Mr Galloway’s spokesman says that the letters weren’t shown to the client before they were sent. That is a matter of practise and the SRA must investigate.”

The Times newspaper originally reported that Chambers Solicitors claimed it incurred the fees in its efforts to track down those commenting about its client on Twitter.

Meanwhile, earlier this week @SuedByGalloway tweeted a copy of the Chambers Solicitors letter before action. In that post, SBG claims the firm demands on behalf of Galloway a public apology to be printed in press local to the recipient.

The politician’s law firm has also hit Legal Cheek with a letter warning the website to report its position fairly. The law firm declined to provide formal comment.

However, in correspondence with Legal Cheek Chambers Solicitors confirmed that it had adhered ardently to its professional obligations under the defamation pre-action protocol, as well as issuing the website with a reminder that it would protect its own reputation legally.

9 Comments

SodsLaw

*Grabs popcorn*

(24)(0)

sosr

At what point does Puss in Boots become libel proof?

(5)(0)

OddlyAmused

£5000+VAT?

Is the letter written by hand on vellum made from unicorn skin using gold infused ink?

(30)(0)

Anonymous

im particularly worried that this firm has a franchise for Child Law.

utter scum bags. jog back to the 19th century.

(7)(3)

SodsLaw

When Mitchell lost, someone (possibly in the Legal Cheek comments, I don’t remember) pointed out that the first rule of litigation is: don’t, if you can avoid it.

What are the odds Galloway is going to end up falling foul of that?

(10)(0)

oxford_lawyer

Might I suggest that this scandal be known as “Galloway Gall & Greedgate”?

In addition presumably a defence for these hapless souls would be fair comment? It’s one thing to say someone is incompetent or unable to perform their job it’s quite another to say that as a question of opinion Mr Galloway is anti-Semitic given his comments towards Jews and Judaism. Especially in light of the fact that as an MP his comments and opinions are rightly game for comment wether or twitter or elsewhere.

And finally as someone who previously trained as a costs draftsman £5000 + VAT is a tad excessive and they are unlikely to recover it even if they claim it was incurred hiring experts to track down the so called culprits the use of experts is itself governed by reasonableness and costs should not be disproportionate to damages thereby meaning the costs act as the penalty not damages. I would be happy to give this advice to Chambers Solicitors based on their apparent hourly rates for shall we say £2,500?

(15)(0)

Anonymous

It’s a great failure of our time that the likes of Galloway and others have got away for so long at makeing a mockery of our caretaker institutions and legal systems.

This individual has been responsible for delivering constant distorted narratives. I’m ashamed that nobody I stood up to this hateful man, “he’s a mouth piece for rent”

(3)(0)

Concerned

I suppose we should salute their courage, their strength, their indefatigability?

(4)(0)

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