Far be it for me to claim to be an expert, but I did spend 20+ years as a legal secretary. To be fair, I spent half the time daydreaming, but despite the sheer monotony of the job, some bits stuck. I also went through a protracted few years of litigation in my own battle with the Catholic Church, and attended a 3 day trial.
But back to the case of McCann .v. Bennett, the Decision that the learned Judge makes on Wednesday, could have huge implications, not least of which is the threat to Freedom of Speech. His Honour will have to consider whether the previous 'gagging' of Tony was lawful, given that he is only repeating that which is freely available and discussed regularly on the www. It makes the original ruling questionable.
Such is the importance of His Honour's Decision, lawyers throughout the land, and probably further afield, will be watching the case closely. How can he make a decision on a libel case that has never gone to trial?
If the Judge rules in the claimants' favour, then effectively, it will become illegal for any individual within the UK to discuss this case as a mystery. I believe Tony describing this case as a 'mystery' was one of the breaches of undertaking. We must accept that Madeleine is alive and well, and that there is no evidence against the parents. Those who follow the the current legal activities in Portugal will be prevented from discussing them. Carter Ruck spend hundreds of hours scrutinising the internet on behalf of their clients. If they poleaxe Tony, who will be next?
The tories are in power and are quite attached to the idea of Freedom of Speech. They take pride in the old Empire, 'what ho, old chap, we're British' and we will fight to the death to hold onto our freedoms. Quite rightly, every year, we solemnly commemorate the sacrifice of those who died so that we may live unchained. We share the proud tears of the veterans each Remembrance Sunday and thank all the Gods there may be that we are not living under a jackboot regime.
We can only hope that His Honour has a strong sense of fair play as it really will be a David .v. Goliath battle. They have the UK's top lawyers and barristers, Tony is unrepresented. The costs of this case amount to almost £300,000, before the trial has even taken place, when those costs will likely double. The McCanns are fighting legal battles on several fronts. Tony is far from alone in voicing his opinion. The reality is, the McCanns, through their high visibility from the off, set in motion a runaway train that cannot be stopped by this litigation. Something their lawyers have failed to point out to them.
The trial will take place nevertheless, and the expensive barristers have been booked. The problem is, Tony is not going to stop saying what he thinks, no matter how many times he is sent to prison. And jailing him will create a martyr that they really don't need right now, what with the Portuguese libel trial under delicate negotiation an' all.
Quite a predicament.