The sky outside the Nouse office seems to be black with stormclouds of litigation. The week started with almost-incoherent threats of libel from the bar crawl company Carnage for a story which quoted one of their sellers as saying “Do you think I care about third world kids? You should see my overdraft.” It isn’t surprising that Carnage is falling all over itself to try and disown the comment. Interestingly, they have made no effort to instead prove that their t-shirts are made in anything resembling ethical conditions. Their case is as laughable as their attempts to organise a bar crawl.
But if the first instance was good for a chuckle the second is enough to wipe away smiles both in the media and the Union. A member of University staff threatening to sue YUSU is a serious matter for all involved, If the case is as strong as the individual makes out then it could potentially cost students in terms of funding for societies and services. YUSU moved quickly to block further stories in the hope of calming the situation. Their actions are, in some ways, understandable. But in moving so fast and bluntly they have damaged the credibility of the media, weakened its ability to demand accountability and set a dangerous precedent for the future.
YUSU would be well advised to remember that just because a potential lawsuit isn’t reported on the front page doesn’t mean it’s gone away, nor that the individual wielding it will give it up as a tool of leverage after a single, hugely successful, usage.