Dee v Telegraph Media Group Ltd [2010] EWHC 924 (QB)

Tennis club, business lease renewals

Dee v Telegraph Media Group Ltd [2010] concerned an article by the defendant newspaper describing the claimant as “world’s worst tennis professional”.

 

The case summary contains 334 words.

Keywords:

Media Law – Tennis player – Article – Action for libel – Newspaper publisher

Facts:

In Dee v Telegraph Media Group Ltd [2010], the claimant, a tennis player who had lost a lot matches, brought an action for libel against the defendant, newspaper publisher (the Daily Telegraph). The claimant sued the defendant because of an article published by the Daily Telegraph under the heading on the front page – “World’s worst tennis pro wins at last”.

The defendant denied that the article was defamatory. It argued that the claimant indeed lost 54 consecutive matches. He was ranked as the world’s worst professional tennis player. To sum up, the newspaper’s defence was that the facts in the article were true. Also, the claimant himself admitted that he lost 54 successive matches in international tournaments.

Issues:

Whether the front page and article in sports section were sufficiently closely connected as to be regarded as a single publication?

Whether the article was defamatory to the claimant?

Held:

The Claimant lost his libel action against the defendant publisher.

On the first issue, the Court held that there was a close cross-reference on the front page telling the reader where to find the full story. So, there was an obvious and clear link between the front page and the article itself. Also, it was obvious to all readers of the front page that it did not constitute the full story.

On the second issue, the Court found that the statement in the article was not defamatory as it was true. The claimant indeed suffered a lot of defeats on the international level. He also admitted that he lost 54 successive matches in international tournaments.

 

Applied: Charleston v News Group Newspapers Ltd [1995] 2 A.C. 65, [1995] 3 WLUK 391; Berkoff v Burchill [1996] 4 All E.R. 1008, [1996] 7 WLUK 507.

References: [2010] EWHC 924 (QB); [2010] 4 WLUK 472; [2010] E.M.L.R. 20; (2010) 160 N.L.J. 653; [2010] C.L.Y. 841.

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Butt v Secretary of State [2019] EWCA Civ 933

Media Law, Home Office, Extremism, Article 10 of the ECHR,

 

Butt v Secretary of State [2019] concerned libel proceedings brought by Dr Salman Butt complaining of the Home Office’s press release.

 

The case summary contains 348 words.

Keywords:

Media Law – Press release – Home Office – Extremism – Article 10 of the ECHR – Freedom of expression – Court of Appeal

Facts:

In Butt v Secretary of State [2019], the Home Office published on the government website a press release. Amongst the individuals named in the press release was the appellant, Dr Salman Butt, the Chief Editor of a website – Islam21C. The press release suggested that the appellant was hate speaker and extremist, who expressed views contrary to British values.

The appellant denied the allegations and brought proceedings for libel. He claimed that he suffered as a result of press release as it beached his right to freedom of expression.

The High Court dismissed the appellant’s claim and held that there was no violation of Article 10 of the ECHR. Also, there was no breach of the appellant’s privacy since Article 8 of the ECHR was not applicable in the present case. The appellant appealed against the High Court’s ruling.

Issue:

Whether the statement in the Home Office’s press release concerning the appellant was a fact or an opinion?

Held:

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on the following grounds. In a complex judgment, the Court found that the statement about the appellant was not a fact, rather it was an honest opinion. The test to be applied when determining whether a statement constitutes fact or opinion is “how the statement would strike the ordinary reader. In this respect, the Court concluded that, “governments have views and opinions and often express them publicly”.

As regards the alleged breach of the appellant’s free speech rights, the Court of Appeal found that the appellant was not a victim of a violation. He was able to freely disseminate information and nothing restricted him to express his opinions.

 

Followed: Kemsley v Foot [1952] A.C. 345, [1952] 2 WLUK 88 and Joseph v Spiller [2010] UKSC 53, [2011] 1 A.C. 852, [2010] 12 WLUK 52.

References: [2019] EWCA Civ 933; [2019] 6 WLUK 299; [2019] E.M.L.R. 23; [2019] C.L.Y. 807.

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Starr v Ward [2015] EWHC 1987 (QB)

Media Law, Defamation, E-book, Interviews, comedian

 

Starr v Ward [2015] concerned a defamation claim brought by comedian, Freddy Star, against the defendant who voiced the allegation of indecent assault.

 

The case summary contains 367 words.

Keywords:

Media Law – Defamation – Comedian – Indecent assault – E-book – Interviews – Limitation period

Facts:

In Starr v Ward [2015], the defendant accused the claimant, comedian and entertainer Freddy Star, of being a paedophile. In an interview she gave to the BCC and ITV, she stated that the claimant sexually assaulted her when she was 15. The assault took place in the green room while he was a guest on the Jimmy Savile show. Moreover, the defendant published an e-book in 2012 providing detailed allegations. In the e-book, the claimant was simply referend as “F”. Following the allegations, the claimant brought a defamation claim against the defendant.

Issue:

Whether the defamation claim succeeded?

Held:

The Court dismissed the defamation claim on the following grounds.

The Court found that the defamation in respect of the BBC interview claim was time-barred. The defendant voiced her allegations of indecent assault in 2011 when the interview took place. The claimant commenced defamation proceedings in 2013. The limitation period for defamation claims is one year. The claimant gave no reason to explain the delay. Thus, the claimant delayed bringing the defamation claim.

Further, as regards the ITV interview claim, the judge examined this claim and noted that the defendant’s words were true. The evidence indicated that the claimant sexually assaulted a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl. He denied this but his evidence contradicted his earlier statements. Also, the claimant’s account was undermined by one of his own witnesses. In these circumstances, the judge the defendant provided a true account of events.

As to the e-book claim, the Court dismissed this claim noting that the number of copies sold in the jurisdiction was very small. Also, e-book readers would not necessarily know that the comedian was “F”.

To sum up, the Court made the judgment in favour of the defendant and the claimant was ordered to pay the costs.

 

See the full text of the judgment here.

Considered: Jameel v Dow Jones & Co Inc [2005] EWCA Civ 75, [2005] Q.B. 946, [2005] 2 WLUK 44.

References: [2015] EWHC 1987 (QB); [2015] 7 WLUK 328.

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Fuentes Bobo v Spain [2000] (39293/98) ECHR;

Human rights, Producer, Offensive remarks, Media Law

 

Fuentes Bobo v Spain [2000] concerned a violation of Article 10 of the ECHR on account of disproportionate sanction applied against the applicant by his employer.

 

The case summary contains 332 words.

Keywords:

Media Law – Human rights – Producer – Offensive remarks – Dismissal – Article 10 – ECHR – Freedom of expression – European Court of Human Rights – Violation

Facts:

In Fuentes Bobo v Spain [2000], the applicant was a producer for Spain’s State-run TV station. He was dismissed after making offensive remarks about the management of the TV station during a live broadcast. He brought a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that his dismissal had violated his right to freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10 of the ECHR.

Issue:

Whether there has been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention?

Held:

The Respondent Government argued that there had been no interference with the applicant’s rights to freedom of expression and the State could not be held responsible for the applicant’s dismissal. The Court explained that Article 10 of the ECHR also applied to the private relations between employer and employee. The Respondent State had a positive obligation in certain cases to protect the right to freedom of expression.

Further, the Court agreed that the applicant indeed used rude and offensive remarks. Although, the applicant confirmed that he used these remarks as part of a rapid and spontaneous exchange of comments between himself and the radio hosts. Also, these statements were made in the context of a labour dispute.

In these circumstances, the Court concluded that imposition of the maximum penalty (termination of employment) was extremely severe. The TV Station could have applied more appropriate disciplinary sanctions against the applicant for his offensive remarks.

Having regard to the above considerations, the Court concluded that the applicant’s dismissal was not a proportionate measure. Thus, the Court found a violation of Article 10 of the ECHR.

 

See the full text of the judgment here.

References: [2000] 2 WLUK 1024; (2001) 31 E.H.R.R. 50; [2001] C.L.Y. 3466.

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Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee [2004] UKHL 44

Human Right Law feature

 

Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee [2004] concerned an interim injunction to prevent publication of confidential information prior to trial.

 

The case summary contains 426 words.

Keywords:

Media Law – Human Rights – Interim injunction – Publication of confidential information – Freedom of expression – Threshold – House of Lords

Facts:

In Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee [2004], one of the defendants, Ms Banerjee, obtained confidential information from her work, the claimant company (Cream Holdings Ltd). After the defendant’s dismissal from the company, she gave the confidential material to the publishers of two daily newspapers in Merseyside, the Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo. The defendant argued that the confidential information contained illegal and improper activities by the claimant company. The newspapers published articles asserting that one of the directors of Cream Holdings Ltd was bribing a local council official.

Interim injunction

Following the publication of part of the confidential information, the claimant company sought an interim injunction preventing the newspapers from publishing any further confidential information. The judge granted the injunction. The defendant appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and held that the company had “a real prospect at trial”. So, publication of the confidential information prior to trial would not be justified. The case reached the House of Lords.

Issue:

Whether the courts should have granted the interim injunction based on “a real prospect at trial”.

Held:

The House of Lords disagreed with the lower court’s findings. In particular, a principal issue in the present case was to balance the freedom of expression against the prospect of success at trial. The House of Lords did not share the argument that the claimant company was simply required to show “a real prospect of success” to obtain an interim injunction. Instead, the claimant must advance an argument the case will probably succeed at trial. So, the threshold the claimant was required to meet was higher.

Thus, the House of Lords ruled that the courts should be very reluctant to grant interim injunction in favour of a party who is unable to establish that his case will more likely succeed at trial. So, a previous test – “a real prospect of success”, offered a lower threshold.

To sum up, the present case raised a bar for the applicants to obtain an interim injunction in order to prevent the publication of confidential information prior to trial.

 

See the full text of the judgment here.

References: [2004] UKHL 44; [2005] 1 A.C. 253; [2004] 3 W.L.R. 918; [2004] 4 All E.R. 617; [2004] 10 WLUK 325; [2005] E.M.L.R. 1; [2004] H.R.L.R. 39; [2004] U.K.H.R.R. 1071; 17 B.H.R.C. 464; (2005) 28(2) I.P.D. 28001; (2004) 101(42) L.S.G. 29; (2004) 154 N.L.J. 1589; (2004) 148 S.J.L.B. 1215; Times, October 15, 2004; [2005] C.L.Y. 2041.

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