Newcastle University academic pays up for libellous blog

ANEWCASTLE University academic who libelled a publisher in his blog has been hit with a bill for damages.

A NEWCASTLE University academic who libelled a publisher in his blog has been hit with a bill for damages.

Thom Brooks, a reader in the politics department, incurred the wrath of respected academic publishers Edwin Mellen Press and its editor-in-chief Dr Herbert Richardson over postings on his website The Brooks Blog.

The blog highlights Dr Brooks’ interests in the philosophy of law, crime and punishment, American and British politics, and higher education.

But the publisher took offence at two articles written by Dr Brooks on the blog.

In December 2007, Dr Brooks put up a piece under the headline “Some of the worst advice on publishing” and he followed that in September last year with another posting headlined: “More reasons to avoid Edwin Mellen Press”.

Simon Gallant, solicitor for the publishers and Dr Richardson, told Mr Justice Eady at a hearing in London: “Dr Brooks now accepts that there was no truth in any of those allegations and that the criticisms made of the claimants and their business were unjustified.”

Mr Gallant added: “The claimants also sued the defendant over several postings made by third parties on the blog that had been prompted by the two articles written by the defendant. The various articles and postings contained a number of grievous allegations about the claimants and their business operations.

“The defendant now accepts that there was no truth in any of those allegations and that the criticisms he made of the claimants and their business were unjustified.”

Mr Gallant read out a statement on behalf of Dr Brooks, who was unable to be in court. The statement said: “Having had the true facts brought to my attention I accept that the Edwin Mellen Press is highly regarded amongst the academic and university communities in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

“It has published the works of more that 5,000 authors, many of whom are leaders in their fields of scholarly research. Contrary to allegations that I had previously made I accept without reservation that Mellen does not charge authors anything to have their works published.

“Mellen’s books are well reviewed in scholarly journals. They are acquired by research libraries around the world, including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Paris and Berlin.”

He added that Dr Brooks offered his “sincere apologies“ to the claimants.

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