Michael Savage (San Francisco Chronicle)
Lawyers in London for Michael Savage issued a defamation complaint today to British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith for posting a press release announcing the popular talk-radio host’s ban from entry to Britain along with murderers, terrorists and others who advocate violence.
“The allegations in the Press Release constitute serious and damaging allegations which are actionable under English law,” declares the complaint from Olswang LLP, a leading London firm.
Savage’s British legal team asks for a response within seven days, warning of further legal action unless Smith agrees to pay a “substantial sum,” issues a new press release with a retraction and apology, and pays the talk host’s legal fees.
“This matter is extremely urgent and defamatory material concerning our client has had enormous circulation both inside and outside the United Kingdom,” the complaint concludes.
Savages says that if the complaint goes forward, the discovery process would include investigation of how his name ended up on the list.
“I am pretty sure there will be a trail going back high up in
the Obama administration,” he said on his nationally syndicated radio
As WND reported last week, Smith explained the ban was necessary, because it was “important that people understand the sorts of values and sorts of standards that we have here, the fact that it’s a privilege to come.”
On Wednesday, Savage sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking that she call on the British government to withdraw the ban.
The letter to Clinton, issued by the nonprofit Thomas More Law Center, appeals to international conventions, arguing Savage is being punished “for what he says in the United States and not what he has said or intends to say in the United Kingdom.”
The complaint sent to Smith notes Savage was listed with people accused of terrorism and states the “controversial daily radio host” is “considered to be engaging in unacceptable behavior by seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.”
The allegations are “entirely false,” the complaint asserts.
“At no time has our client provoked or sought to provoke others to commit crimes or serious criminal acts.”
The complaint warns that if Savage were to proceed with a defamation suit, he likely could recover substantial damages.
Savage’s attorneys charge the home secretary’s press release was “expressly intended to name and shame” their client.
Savage also asked Clinton’s State Department to find out the origin of the listing.
In the letter to Clinton, Thomas More’s president and chief legal counsel, Richard Thompson, argues Savage’s radio show is not broadcast in the U.K., and it’s unlikely many British citizens had even heard of him.
“It is extremely suspicious that the Home Secretary’s office would select an American radio talk show host to place on their so called ‘least wanted list,’ when that individual has never taken steps to enter their country,” Thompson writes.
Thompson points out the ban on Savage has caused a “political firestorm” in the U.K., with some British citizens claiming the move was made to “give political cover to the list that concerns mainly Muslims.”
Savage hosts the nation’s third most popular radio talk show in the U.S., with an estimated 8 million listeners a week on about 400 stations, according to his syndicator, the Talk Radio Network.
Thompson appeals to Article 19, section 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which both the U.S. and U.K. have signed: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print. …”
In addition, he says, the ban violates Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which also establishes “the right of freedom of expression.”
Thompson, in conclusion, “respectfully demands” that Clinton and the State Department “take all necessary steps” to call on the U.K. and Home Secretary Smith to rescind the ban and asks that he be kept “informed of the steps you plan to take and are taking.”
In an interview with the BBC May 5, Smith said Savage is “someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country.”
Savage told WND last week his message for Smith and the people of the U.K. was, “Shame on you. Shame that you’ve fallen to such a low level.”
“It’s interesting to me that here I am a talk show host, who does not advocate violence, who advocates patriotic traditional values – borders, language, culture – who is now on a list banned in England,” Savage said. “What does that say about the government of England? It says more about them than it says about me.”
The U.K. list also includes Hamas leader Yunis Al-Astal, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black, neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe and radical American pastor Fred Phelps, known for his virulent anti-gay protests at funerals. Phelps’ daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper also is on the list.
Smith said the British government believes the people on the list have views or attitudes that could provoke violence.
“If people have so clearly overstepped the mark in terms of the way not just that they are talking but the sort of attitudes that they are expressing to the extent that we think that this is likely to cause or have the potential to cause violence or inter-community tension in this country, then actually I think the right thing is not to let them into the country in the first place. Not to open the stable door then try to close it later,” she said.
“It’s a privilege to come to this country. There are certain behaviors that mean you forfeit that privilege.”
The others on the list are Jewish nationalist Mike Guzovsky; imprisoned Russian skinhead leaders Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky; and Islamic leaders Wadgy Abd El Hamied Mohamed Ghoneim, Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal, Safwat Hijazi , Amir Siddique, Abdul Ali Musa, Samir Al Quntar and Nasr Javed.
On his website, Savage is appealing to his listeners to contribute his legal fund, which he has used for various efforts, including a lawsuit last year against the Council on American-Islamic Relations for waging a boycott using excerpts of his copyrighted remarks. In this case, however, CAIR has sided with Savage, arguing “freedom of speech is a two-way street.”
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