Support for city’s typist in libel battle

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A tweeting city typist at the centre of a £50,000 libel claim has been given cash help to defend herself by supporters from all over the world.

Grandmother Lesley Kemp is being sued for comments she made on Twitter about a Middle Eastern company she claims was late paying a £146 bill for her typing services.

The 51-year-old aired her grievance on the social messaging site out of frustration, she says.

Afterwards Kirby Kearns, who runs Resolution Production in Qatar, launched a libel action through the British Royal Courts of Justice.

He claims Mrs Kemp’s comments on Twitter constitute libel.

Mr Kearns is asking for £50,000 payment but, if Mrs Kemp loses, she could be forced to pay twice as much as that for his legal costs.

She says she faces loses her Greenleys home and everything she possesses.

Her plight spread swiftly through Twitter and caught the attention of London lawyer Robert Dougans, from global law specialists Bryan Cave.

Mr Dougans is known for his work in winning the case of Simon Singh, the science writer who was sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association over an article he wrote in the Guardian.

Mr Singh’s case become a cause celebre, with celebrities, scientists and freedom of speech campaigners from all over the world supporting him and condemning the British libel laws.

Many of the freedom of speech campaigners, including the Libel Reform Campaign, are now set to help Mrs Kemp. Already well-wishers have donated £2,000 to enable her to pay the court fees to lodge her defence.

“People have been amazing,” she said. “I felt very alone and frightened, so it is a great comfort to have this support.”

Already her story has reached America, where a blogging lawyer called Popehat wrote about the case on Monday.

He published a letter from Resolution Production’s lawyer, Mr Sahota from Sahota Solicitors, saying: “You are expressly refused consent to publish any material that defames our client’s good name.”

Popehat blogged his own reply, stating: “I write about defamation cases, legal threats and abuses of legal processes and I will continue to do so, whether you threaten me or not.”