Cairns wins first Twibel trial

Stat of the day: £90,000 - The amount won by former New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns in the first Twitter libel trial in the UK.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 27 Mar 2012
When Biz Stone, Evan Williams et al first launched Twitter in 2005, the idea that the site would spark its own libel actions probably wasn’t at the forefront of their minds.  But having helped to catch ‘terrorists’ and summer rioters, the first UK Twitter libel suit has just been won.

Chris Cairns, the former New Zealand cricket captain, won £90,000 in damages yesterday over Lalit Modi, the ex-chairman of the Indian Premier League, who had made ‘unequivocal allegations’ in a tweet in January 2010, alleging that Cairns was involved in match-fixing.

It’s another warning to social networking fans to watch what their say – as ‘Twitter joke trial’ tweeter Paul Chambers discovered to his chagrin back in 2010.

The trial is a warning to users of the social network: just because you’re not a journalist, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch what you say (as ‘Twitter joke trial’ tweeter Paul Chambers discovered). As media law expert Andrew Terry put it in the Telegraph today: ‘The case illustrates that there will always be situations in which even though social media is accepted by many to be a more ‘casual’ environment, there are comments made that cannot be left unanswered.’

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