Transcriber Lesley Kemp celebrates after Twitter libel case dropped
Qatar-based plaintiff refused to post security to London court. Padraig Reidy reports
19 Nov 13

Lesley Kemp, a British freelance transcriber who faced a ruinous libel case after tweeting criticism of a Qatar-based client, is celebrating this week after the plaintiff dropped the case.

In October 2012 Milton Keynes-based Kemp tweeted criticism of Resolution Productions Limited, claiming the company had been late in paying an invoice for work carried out in September. The head of the company, Irish born Kirby Kearns, reacted strongly, bringing a £50,000 libel case against Kemp. The corporate film producer also sought to bring an action against Twitter.

But in a statement released yesterday, Kearns said he would drop the case, as he refused to pay security of £134,000 into the court, a common requirement for foreign-based claimants. He also cited personal reasons for not pursuing the case.

In his statement, Kearns rejected claims that he was a “libel tourist”, citing his family’s association with the UK. He said that the dropping of the case should not be seen as “some kind of victory” for any side.

Reacting on her blog today, Kemp expressed gratitude to science writer and libel campaigner Simon Singh, as well as the Libel Reform campaign (of which Index on Censorship is a member).

Kemp was represented by Robert Dougans of Bryan Cave, who also represented Singh in his battle with the British Chiropractic Association, and Jonathan Price* of Ely Place Chambers.

Dougans told Index: “We are glad that this case is over, but disappointed it was ever begun. I know how relieved Lesley is, and Jonathan Price and I are happy with a job well done, but we still do not know why Mr Kearns dropped the claim because of having to pay security for costs when he was always going to have to do so.”

This article was updated at 6pm, London time. It originally incorrectly stated that Jonathan Price is a QC. 

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.