American union files brief to defend John Oliver from legal action

American union files brief to defend TV host from coal executive legal action

John Oliver is being sued for defamation in the wake of a coal executive's appearance on his show

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A union in America has taken action in defence of British TV star John Oliver, currently embroiled in a legal battle. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a brief to act on Oliver's behalf, after a coal executive called Robert Murray filed a defamation suit against the Last Week Tonight host.

The suit was filed on June 21 and pertains to an episode of Last Week Tonight which aired just three days earlier. 

Oliver heavily criticised Murray and his company, Murray Energy, during the show, accusing him of shoddy business practices and even likening him to a "geriatric Dr Evil."

The host mentioned the fact that Murray's company had sent a cease-and-desist letter in advance of the programme, having been advised of its content, and freely suggested that Murray might take legal action.

“I know you are probably going to sue me, but you know what? I stand by everything I said,” Oliver said in the clip, which you can see here (the Murray segment begins at 12:15).


The brief now filed by ACLU points out the plaintiffs (Murray) do not allege the defendents (John Oliver and HBO) did anything illegal. 

It also points out contradictions in Murray's behaviour, and says the case is "beyond meritless", offensive to free speech ideals contained within the First Amendment.

“Although this brief pokes fun at the absurdity of this case, the legal issues raised by it are anything but comical,” the brief read.

It remains to be seen whether Murray will respond to the brief.