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Posted: Thu 28 Jun 2007 8:42 pm
by Mike Oliver
I am all for free speech and for a frank and open sharing of views and experience, but that brings with it obligations and responsibilities.
If libellous entries and posts are made, those libelled can and probably will sue. Those liable to pay any damages and costs will include specifically trustees of the KC Group (inc. Anne, Gareth, John and the other committee members) as well as the individual making the post and the KC group itself.
It would probably only take one successful libel action to bankrupt the Group and probably its trustees, so however strongly one may feel, a degree of restraint and self discipline is called for.
I appreciate that all that sounds stuffy and pompous, but that doesn't make it wrong.
If I had still been a trustee of the Group when certain recent posts appeared I would have pretty nervous until the storm had been calmed. I understand that happened due to Anne's diplomatic skills.


Posted: Thu 28 Jun 2007 9:12 pm
by Hari Navarro
I had a quick look on the net and found this:

Libel online
Slander is 'defamation by word of mouth'
Internet sites are not exempt from any libel laws. If you are publishing on the internet you are bound by the same libel laws as print publishers.

In a significant ruling in 2002, the Australian high court ruled that mining magnate Joseph Gutnick could sue publisher Dow Jones under Australian law for alleged libel online. The judge deemed that the web was no different from newspapers or television.

In the UK, internet service providers are coming under increasing pressure to close sites containing defamatory allegations. You also have to be careful about the comments others post on your site. There have been cases where individuals have sued online publishers for libel over customer book reviews published on their sites.

Such developments have implications for freedom of expression.

So there it is freedom of speech but only if you have something nice to say :)
All I would add is that if people intend to post here then they avoid using specific names of both people ie: doctors and organizations ie: hospitals/ clinics (these people know who they are and so do we :evil: ). But never let this stifle any grievences you may have with the way keratoconus is being handled... Otherwise all we will ever do is discuss our favorite brand of lens cleaner and thats never any fun :)


Posted: Fri 29 Jun 2007 5:43 pm
by morag
lets not forget childrens rights either -The Convention on the rights of the child has 54 articles in all. Articles 43-54 are about how adults and governments should work together to make sure all children get their rights.

Article 12 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, states that every child has the right to express an opinion and to be taken seriously. This means sharing opinions and decisions that affect their lives and of their community, this is the basis of a democratic life.

Posted: Sun 01 Jul 2007 5:41 pm
by Steven Williams
In law, defamation is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may harm the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government or nation. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against criticism.

The common law origins of defamation lie in the torts of slander (harmful statement in a transitory form, especially speech) and libel (harmful statement in a fixed medium, especially writing but also a picture, sign, or electronic broadcast), each of which gives a common law right of action.

"Defamation" is the general term used internationally, and is used in this article where it is not necessary to distinguish between "slander" and "libel". Libel and slander both require publication. The fundamental distinction between libel and slander lies solely in the form in which the defamatory matter is published. If the offending material is published in some fleeting form, as by spoken words or sounds, sign language, gestures and the like, then this is slander. If it is published in more durable form, for example in written words, film, compact disc (CD), DVD, internet blogging and the like, then it is considered libel.

The operative word is "false"; i.e if the statement is true or a fact then it cannot be libellous.

Yes there is a responsibility and obligation to be truthful and also to help each other.

Maybe a private forum for KCers here would help.
discuss such controversial issues. There are already private forums here such as Professionals Place.

Re: To all forum users

Posted: Sun 01 Jul 2007 7:04 pm
by rosemary johnson
Anne Klepacz wrote:Just to add that every hospital and Primary Care Trust now has a Patients Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). This (quoting from a PALS website) is 'a confidential service dealing with questions or concerns regarding care or treatment from NHS services'. So this is probably the first port of call for anyone who wants to raise concerns.

In my personal experience, the PALSS at Moorfields are a complete and utter waste of time.

Please note that this is a report of my purely personal experience. Please also note that PALS people are *not* meedical professionals, and I am not making any comments on anyone's medical expertise or lack of it.
I got some sort of a solution to sone problem, and two letters of apology, from contacting my MP.
PS: just to add that PALS would seem to be set up with prime aim of helping confused and ancious patients to find their way round to the right place, and find the loo/cofffee shop and explain the instructions on the pharmacy labels to them if they don't have the courage to ask the pharmacy staff themselves. I have no evidence to suggest they aren't quite OK at that, but have no need of such things mmyself.

Posted: Sun 01 Jul 2007 7:25 pm
by Hari Navarro
Just out of interest and from a slightly different perspective what exactly are the rights of doctors/ clinics/ hospitals etc when it comes to legally defending themselves against slander (both real and percieved) on internet based forums?

Does anyone out there know the definitive law on this? I know of a certain doctor in Italy that has had to contend with constant internet attacks on both his method of treatment and his motivations to treat as a whole... does he have legal standing to procecute?

In a perfect world free speech would mean exactly that... the option to speak freely. I really believe that certain topics should be able to be spoken of without threat of censorship. Obviously venomous attacks on a persons race or sexuality and the like (ie: things that do not constitute the furtherhood of the common good) should fall outside of this free-zone. But certainly on medically based forums and discussion groups if a patient feels mistreated, under informed or neglected by those trusted to treat then how can it be wrong to question?

I think we need to know exactly where we and the medical establisment stand legally on this subject... somewhere there must be a firm set of rules that govern this?


Posted: Sun 01 Jul 2007 7:29 pm
by morag
If we cannot help each other with truth and honesty, what hope has this site?
I wish I had known what was waiting for me 26 years down the line. I wish I had been told of what was expected and what a horrendous effect it was going to have not just on me my family and my friends, but also, on my getting on with the life I had head of me with the drugs, the pain, the constant changing of contact lenses and glasses, the mental effects of transplantation of tissue with no support, the travelling to and from different appointments and seeing countless people – having countless students having a look and saying ….wow this is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We need to support and help fellow suffers we need to be able to help freely this is not Big Brother or is it??

Posted: Tue 03 Jul 2007 2:33 am
by tommy.dean
it's "1984" isn't it morag :D

Posted: Tue 03 Jul 2007 2:52 pm
by Matt Allgood
Mike Oliver is spot on.

As legal owners of charity property, the trustees of the KC Group own the website. Therefore we are liable to be sued for any libelous or defamatory remarks made by those posting.

In addition, the trustees are obligated by law to pursue our charitable mission (i.e. support and assistance to keratoconus sufferers). Partisan, or political purposes are not legally charitable and if the website becomes populated by such messages then it is conceivable that the Charity Commission could shut down the website following a complaint.

I would therefore appeal to the better nature of those posting to kindly observe the terms and conditions of entry to the Forum and refrain from writing remarks of a personal, abusive, political, partisan and / or religious nature.

If you are unable to do so, we may have no choice but to reconsider whether the forum remains as free as it currently is.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Matt Allgood
Keratoconus Group Treasurer and Vice-Chair

Posted: Tue 03 Jul 2007 3:33 pm
by Hari Navarro
Hello Matt,
Your last post cleared a lot up for me. So its the fact that the UK KC group is a registered charity that dictates what can and cannot be said... or is this a general internet law that governs all forums and web groups?

In addition I have not read any politically, religious or racially biased postings here. All I've seen is patients taking issue with certain types of treatment and on rare occasions the treatment of certain hospitals... but then I guess this is were the partisan clause comes in.

It must make your jobs here very hard if you are to offer 'support and assistance to keratoconus sufferers' but cannot highlight all aspects of our treatments.

Thanks again for making this clear, I for one will refrain from any further probing posts that could agitate this issue.