Category Archives: Defamation

The Daily Mail Reports on Belle De Jour and Sunday Times Apology Via a Time Warp

Every so often one gets confused reading the newspapers. Some things are reported which are undoubtedly false. Some things are mistaken. Sometimes the writer of the article seems not to understand what they are writing about.

And, with that preamble, I am confused by a story today reported in the Mail Online. Regular readers will know that the Mail Online is far from my favourite news outlet, although, as it is one of the most “popular” news websites in the world, I suspect those in charge are not bothered what I think.

Today’s story refers to the former “call girl” who went by the nom de plume of “Belle de Jour” and whose exploits were recounted in a blog and then in book form. She was then revealed to be Dr Brooke Magnanti, a research scientist. Her role was played in the TV adaptation of her writing, by Billie Piper. Continue reading

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Filed under Bad Law, Civil Law, Daily Mail, Defamation, Press

You Can’t Defame the Dead – Why the Savile Case Shows Mr MacAskill Shouldn’t Change the Rules

 

Jimmy Savile, during his life, was seen as a great character, with his charitable works, support for Stoke Mandeville Hospital, dream-fulfilling TV programme, remarkable personal fashion statements, and the cigars and easily mimicked catch phrases. “This is the Age of the Train” and “Clunk Click; Every Trip” are lodged in the minds of those of us who watched TV adverts, and Public Information films, in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Since his death, and especially since Newsnight decided not to run an investigation into allegations against him, his reputation has been destroyed, as a result of hundreds of accusations of sexual assault and child abuse. These are subject to active police inquiries just now, as well as potential civil litigation against the BBC, the NHS and the Savile estate for injury allegedly caused by him.

During his lifetime, Mr Savile was very keen to protect his reputation, and was not an infrequent visitor to the courts to obtain orders to protect his image. As recently as 2007 the Lawyer magazine reported that he obtained an order against the Sun newspaper in relation to allegations about his personal conduct. I suspect there are many more unreported instances. Continue reading

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Filed under Civil Law, Courts, Defamation, General Scots Law Rambling, Politics

Tom Watson MP Wants An Investigation into Tommy Sheridan Prosecution – Why?

The Firm Magazine reported on Monday that Tom Watson MP has raised further issues about the Tommy Sheridan trial. He is quoted as saying:-

“It’s now absolutely certain that the judgment is unsound and if Alex Salmond had a shred of decency he would use all the power he has to ensure that this is urgently dealt with.

There have been key revelations about the inadequacies of the original revelations and the methodology used by the executives working for Rupert Murdoch in the Sheridan case.

It’s certain the jury would have reached another verdict if in possession of all the facts and Alex Salmond has to ask the Crown Office to investigate how on earth this case was even brought and why it went to trial.”

As my long time reader will know, I wrote a lot about the Sheridan case last year on this blog, before it became “obsessed” about an SFL3 football team. Continue reading

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Filed under Defamation, News Of The World, Tommy Sheridan

Rangers, Sevco and the Law – Threatened Court Actions – Duff & Phelps v BBC

Following the BBC Inside Story, Part 2, recently it was made clear by Duff & Phelps that they were poised to embark on court action against the BBC.

As the Scotsman reported on 24th May, “RANGERS administrators Duff & Phelps last night threatened to sue the BBC over claims a senior partner in the firm was aware of Craig Whyte’s scheme to buy Rangers using cash from the controversial Ticketus deal.”

The piece quoted the statement from Paul Clark which said:-

“The allegations made in tonight’s programme against Duff & Phelps are untrue, a distortion of the facts and highly defamatory. Discussions are already underway with our solicitors with a view to bringing legal proceedings against the BBC.

 “We made a number of offers to assist the BBC in order they would not make the fundamental errors broadcast this evening and for some inexplicable reason the reporter Mark Daly declined these.

“We had also hoped to give interviews stating our case on camera but received strong legal advice against this course of action, bearing in mind the legal proceedings Duff & Phelps have raised against Collyer Bristow. The BBC were informed in writing from our solicitors.” Continue reading

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Filed under Administration, BBC, Defamation, Rangers

Early on Day 13 of Rangers’ Administration – The Catch Up Service Continues – Suing, Policing and Singing

Just in time for whatever new stories come from the Sunday papers, I can catch up with a couple of loose ends from Friday.

(Sunday Morning Edit – on the basis that the Sunday papers appear to have nothing else in them other than Rangers, I will follow the new developments up later – but I have typed this stuff, so it’s going in!)

 

Mr Whyte and the BBC

First of all, I noted a tweet from Chris McLaughlin of the BBC which quoted Craig Whyte. Could Mr Whyte have been speaking to the BBC?

If so, and if he regains control of Rangers from the administrators, then he will have to fire himself, as per his pledge in October to the BBC!

And talking of the BBC, it has now been confirmed that a writ has been served on it at the instance of Mr Whyte. It seems that the court action is against both the BBC and Robert Burns, Head of Investigations at the Insolvency Service.

I confidently predicted that this court action would never see the light of day. As is often the case, I was wrong!

Formal confirmation as to whether the action has been raised in England or Scotland is awaited. As I have said many times, any action should be raised in England as the financial pressures on the defender to settle are so much higher, and the “no win, no fee” provisions so much more favourable for claimants.

Now that an action has been raised, all I can say is that I am even more astonished.

There are two essential elements in a damages claim, whether for injury to person, reputation or business. There must be a legal wrong committed against the claimant and there must be injury.

In a defamation or libel case, the injury relates to damage to reputation. Has the repute of the person been lowered amongst right thinking people?

When Lord Archer, for example, was at the height of his fame and political prominence, the media was afraid to write about him in a less than positive fashion. He was known to be litigious, and had won a huge award from the Daily Star for libel in 1987. Lord Archer was a prominent and powerful man whose reputation, despite being chipped away at round the edges by Michael Crick and by Private Eye, was still very high.

However, once he was convicted in 2003 of perjury and perverting the course of justice, and gaoled for four years, things changed. The media could effectively write anything it wanted about Lord Archer because his reputation could hardly be lower. If he sued and won in a libel case, the defence would ask the jury to consider how much the reputation of a convicted perjurer was worth. It remains possible for a jury in such a case to find that a person has been libelled, and to award one penny by way of damages.

In October 2011, when the BBC programme was published, Mr Whyte’s reputation was still high. His team had won the league, and despite a looming tax decision, which was nothing to do with him (as far as causing it was concerned) and a couple of trivial disputes with lawyers and ex-employees, he would have been seen as a fine and upstanding member of Scottish society.

We move forward a mere four months and matters are so different.

Mr Whyte has been condemned by a Sheriff for giving evidence described as “wholly unreliable”. His company has been forced into administration. It appears that, since taking over less than one year ago, a further £15 million in outstanding tax liabilities has been accrued. He has been seen either to have been incorrect in statements he has made, or else has said things which turn out to be the opposite of the truth.  He has been revealed as being listed under different names in the Companies House Register, and with differing dates of birth.

It is not easy to think of someone whose reputation in Scotland is now so poor.

Ands yet it is at this time that he raises court proceedings?

One wonders if, like the late Robert Maxwell, Mr Whyte viewed the court action as a way of gagging the media. If he did, he has found out that he required a much bigger gag, and many more of them!

Will this claim ever get to court for a full hearing? I don’t think so. He must be funding it privately (there is no way he can go with a no win, no fee deal here) and these cases are very expensive.

It would not surprise me if, in a few months, there is quiet word that the action has been dropped.

As I have said before, I did not see Mr Whyte winning. Now even if he wins, he will lose! Continue reading

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Filed under Administration, BBC, Civil Law, Craig Whyte's Companies, Defamation, Football, Rangers, SPL