First Twitter libel case lost by a Welshman

A former Welsh mayor became the first Briton to be ordered to pay libel damages over a Twitter entry.

Colin Elsbury, a former mayor of Caerphilly, had tweeted ahead of a council election that his challenger Eddie Talbot had been “forcibly removed” from a polling station by coppers.

According to the Times, he twigged that he had got the wrong bloke and the person chucked out of the polling station was not his rival after all.

Elsbury tried to correct the tweet, but Talbot was hugely miffed and sued for defamation anyway.

A judgehanded down a fine of £3,000 and ordered Elsbury to pay costs of around £50,000 as well as apologise publicly to Talbot on his Twitter feed.

Elsbury, a member of the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru party, said after the verdict that it was a case of mistaken identity which he had already said sorry for.

The case should act as a warning to people, including politicians, to be extremely careful when using Twitter and other social media such as blogs.”

Sueing over Tweets is quite common in the US, where they will sue if a cup of coffee is too hot.  But there has not been another case in the UK yet.