Bloggers lack the benefit of the news media's specialised lawyers. Many seem to assume that it's safe to be outrageous, but some public figures are notably litigious. Defamation is an untrue statement about another which is likely to lower their reputation among "right thinking" members of the public. The best defence is "justification"; i.e. that the statement is true. Against politicians, the fallback defence is that, if untrue, the statement was "fair comment on a matter of public interest".
Even with constant legal advice on tap, the media lose a number of libel cases every year. They reserve funds for the purpose (in the case of Private Eye, that must be a major part of the budget), but bloggers could face losing their homes if they are sued successfully. They are publishing globally, so they may be liable under laws they don't know in countries they have never even visited. The pseudonyms under which many write would be no protection. ISPs or the companies providing their blog accounts could be ordered to disclose. Some are therefore notably brave, rather rash or - always the best defence in litigation - too poor to be worth suing.
David Blunkett is not a man averse to the courts. In clearing Tom Utley's opinion piece today the Telegraph's lawyers have shown courage and I respect them for it. I am not qualified to comment on David Blunkett's sanity, but feel free to state he is a man of little political judgement and less understanding. As Home Secretary, he was a threat to the nation's liberties, for which he appears to have little or no respect.
I liked Utley's word "mentionitis"; the need of a lover to mention his beloved. In my opinion, Blunkett's main beloved is Blunkett. Despite his protests against invasion of his privacy, the examples Tom Utley cites suggest to me that Blunkett's main psychological objective is to be noticed, rather than be ignored as his mediocrity so richly deserves.
Telegraph | Opinion | Putting it kindly, Blunkett is mad