I hope you will read this appeal for support for a Lib Dem council candidate and his agent who were the victims of an unpleasant libel claim by a Tory opponent which they eventually won but which cost them dearly.
They were left out of pocket to the tune of many thousands despite winning the case and being awarded full costs. It seems that in the arcane world of English law, 'full costs' does not mean what it says. The two Lib Dems were even helped by a Conservative lawyer who recognised the action as a serious attack on democracy.
Henley Constituency members Robin Peirce and his agent, David Cooper, were sued unsuccessfully in the High Court for malicious falsehood and breaches of the Data Protection Act by a candidate who lost his seat to Robin. The complaint made was over a number of statements in an election leaflet in 2007. All the grounds for the action were comprehensively rejected by the Judge and Robin & David were awarded full costs.
The 'full costs' in question can be subjected to many challenges about what is “necessary” and usually successful defendants only get around 70% of their costs back. Robin and David received 76% of the funds they had to find to defend themselves, despite having run a cut-price defence with help from many people, including some Conservatives affronted by the injustice of the case. David and Robin eventually ended up out of pocket to the tune of around £26,000
If they had lost, it would have had profound implications for the way the local party could campaign in future but despite this, they had no financial help from the National Party, although they did get some helpful legal advice and contacts which greatly helped them to win.
Robin and David are guilty of being committed Lib Dems who fought an election on local issues and won. They found themselves hauled before a court and they are now having to pay for the privilege of being proven right.
This is where you come in, dear reader. If you can help towards these huge personal costs it would be a tremendous help to our hard-working party members and it would reassure other activists, candidates and councillors around the country that they would get the support of their colleagues in the event of such an unpleasant occurrence in their local campaigns.
If you can help, you can be reassured that all money donated is controlled by two independent and respected residents, Karen Woolley and Frances Cork, and it will be used solely for paying the costs of this case.
If you would like to donate, you can send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or send a cheque, payable to “Woodcote Libel Defence Fund”, to the local party chairman, Philip Allison, at Baltic House, 9 Thameside, HENLEY-ON-THAMES RG9 1BQ.
If you have read this far, thank you. If you can help Robin and David, even greater thanks. If you donate through my blog, please let me know and I will add your name to a 'roll of honour' at the top of this website.