Sky News' associate editor Simon Bucks has a great posting on his blog exposing the latest ludicrous libel threat to a national newspaper - "we'll sue you over a crossword clue".
Bucks writes on his blog: "One of our national newspapers was threatened with a libel action this week over a crossword clue. I'm not kidding.The paper's crossword had a clue which invited the solver to name the current beau of a young actress. You will understand why I am going to refrain from naming either the beau or the actress.
Anyway, not long after it appeared, a letter was delivered to the paper's managing editor from one of London's top libel lawyers. It said they represented a young man, also an actor. They complained that the number of letters in the answer to the clue was the same as the numbers of letters in the surname of their client! Since he was adamant that he was NOT stepping out with the young woman in question, he had been potentially libelled, so would the paper a) promise not to do it again, b) pay his costs and c) pay damages.
This is the extent to which minor celebrities are prepared to exploit our absurd libel laws to make themselves a few hundred smackers for minimal effort, aided and abetted by avaricious lawyers with eye-watering rate-cards.
Alice In Wonderland stories like this deserve wider currency because they underline the urgent and long overdue need for reform of Britain's libel legislation.
Meanwhile the crossword editor is planning to leave a gap when he publishes the puzzle' s answers, with a note blaming the omission on legal considerations. Is this a first?"
The puzzle is which national? From the clue it sounds more like a tabloid as it is about a celebrity rather than a cryptic clue more common to the posh papers.
Story via the Society of Editors