My previous dealings with Chris McGrath, who unsuccessfully tried to sue Amazon, Richard Dawkins, the Richard Dawkins Foundation and Vaughan Jones over a book review, and subsequent flame war, are detailed in the following posts:
And I will, of course, comment more fully on the denouement of this case, which has left McGrath to pay costs in excess of £75,000, once the full judgement has been made available by Bailii.
I cannot, however, pass up the opportunity of commenting on McGrath’s comments at the end of The Indy’s report of the outcome of this case.
He [McGrath] rounded on libel reform campaigners, stating that British law had made it all but impossible for litigants in person such as himself to successfully bring a libel case. He also defended his use of online pseudonyms stating that he was “trying to pull off a complicated satire” at the time.
“There are artistic reasons that are not unethical, to use fake review accounts and, in sudden defence of a serious attack, it seems eminently reasonable to reach for whatever resources there are available to protect family, name and reputation,” he said.
It must be remembered that McGrath’s book – if it can be called that – was promoted and made available for purchase on Amazon for around nine months with no mention of it being a supposed parody until McGrath began to spam the review section of Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow’s then-newly published book, ‘The Grand Design’ in an effort to generate sales for his own book.
It was only after he was called out by Vaughan Jones, and others, for spamming and for trying to climb on the back of ‘The Grand Design’ to hawk his own, wholly unoriginal collection of crap creationist arguments, that McGrath began to the claim that he intended to whole thing to be a parody/satire.
He might call that a defence, personally I see it – as a matter of opinion – as a bullshit excuse.
Likewise, his claim that there were/are ‘artistic reasons’ that justified his self-admitted use of sockpuppets to try and promote his book and, subsequently, to attack his critics is, in my opinion, a complete crock of shit, not least because one of the many things that claimed was defamatory and included in his particulars of claim was Vaughan’s assertion that McGrath was using sockpuppets to promote his book.
That McGrath is now making noises about appealing the judgement in this demonstrates one thing, so far as I am concerned – that his biggest problem in life is his own abject failure to recognise that his biggest problem life is actually staring at him whenever he looks in a mirror.
That said, I’m going to be just a little bit naughty here and quote just one paragraph from the judgement which I think sums up McGrath perfectly – this comes from a section in which the judge sets out a list of matters that are ‘clear beyond argument’.
v. [McGrath’s ]book contains no scientific source references to back up its purported scientific contentions.(This is admitted by [McGrath] at para. 72.2 of his submission dated 8 November 2011, in which he refers approvingly to his own Yahoo review of his book, again pretending to be independent.)
Now if I’m reading this correctly, the judge is actually indicating that McGrath tried to use one of his own sockpuppet reviews as evidence in his submission to the court while pretending that it offered the court an ‘independent’ opinion of his book.
If that’s correct, then I wonder quite what ‘artistic reasons’ he can offer as justification for that!