• Who can sue?
    • Individuals
      • Not the dead
        • However, complaint can be brought via PCC or Ofcom.
      • Groups of individuals
      • Who is reasonably identifiable?
        • Holton v. Jones 1910
          • Test is whether an allegation could reasonably lead to a person being identified
        • Group of non-English cricketers in 1995 sued Cricket Wisdom for saying “non-England born” players were less dedicated to the team.
      • O-Shay v. Mirror Group — Claimant claimed a risque call phoneline photo resembled her; case dismissed as being unreasonable (It would be impossible for newspapers to verify that nobody other than the subject looks like somebody in a photo
      • The “Tapas 7” weren’t referred to directly but sued due to false allegations.
      • Calling a group a “criminal family” a bad idea — even if there are a few who have records, everyone in that family could sue.
    • Companies
      • General damage: damages for loss of reputation
        • Ordinarily should not be substantial.
      • Special damages: damages that can be proven
        • If, say, a report comes out arguing a drug is dangerous, a company can sue for lost revenue.
        • Colins Stewart Tullett PLC v. Financial Times (2004)
          • Broking company criticized by FT. Company claimed for loss of their shares, £37m worth. Claim rejected; the loss of a share price is unforeseeable.
    • Not public authorities / political parties
      • Darbyshire County Council v. Times Newspapers (1993)
        • Public bodies should be open to uninhibited criticism.
      • Goldsmith v. Bhoyrul (1998)
        • Goldsmith could sue, but not the political party he was a member of.
  • Who can be sued?
    • Publisher, journalist, editor
  • What is the meaning of the report?
    • Express meanings:
      • What is the natural and ordinary meaning?
        • What is the meaning conveyed to an ordinary, reasonable viewer?
          • Can read between the lines but is not avid for scandal.
        • Charleston v. News Group (1995)
          • Report about pornographic computer game in which soap stars faces are pasted on top of porn star bodies. House of Lords came down on side of newspaper; claimants had to look at the article as a whole. Reading the headline and text would argue the soap stars were in no way affiliated with the game.
      • Look at the report as a whole
      • Tone of report/qualifications
        • Taking a middle line is important;
      • Stance of a report
        • Lewis v. Daily Telegraph (1964)
          • Report in Telegraph said that fraud squad were looking into affairs of company after criticism of the chairman’s statement
            • House of Lords came down on side of Daily Telegraph
            • Publication must be taken as a whole; suspicion of guilty is not proof of guilt.
            • Precise, clear account of the facts.
    • Implied meanings
      • Wallpaper
        • Don’t show a photo of a random officer if there’s a report of corruption; ONLY show the officer accused of corruption.
      • Innuendo
        • Private Eye-ese
          • “Tired and emotional” = drunk; “Ugandan discussions” = an affair; “Smoking an exotic charout” = pot use; “close friends”
  • Libel and the Internet
    • Godfrey v. Demon Internet
      • A claimant can sue the publisher of a website, but not the ISP, unless it’s kept online?
    • Gutnick v. Wall St. Journal
      • You can be sued anywhere in the world — any jurisdiction it could be downloaded.
    • Chat boards
      • If not responsible for what’s being published, then should not be held responsible for what’s on the chat. (Innocent dissemination)
      • Chat boards at the end of controversial articles not a good idea.
    • Libel tourism
      • Forthcoming defamation act will decide whether somebody without much reputation here would be able to sue for libel
    • Substantial publication
  • The defences
    • Justification
      • Burden of proof is on the broadcaster/publisher
      • How are you going to prove the truth?
      • What is the evidence you can rely on?
      • Assessing the evidence
        • If an individual has been paid, it’s less easy to rely on their defence.
        • Is the individual motivated by malice?
        • Source with a criminal record is less likely to be believed.
        • Is the individual within the jurisdiction, will they be able to testify?
          • If outside the UK you can’t make them testify.
        • Are there other sources or documents you can rely on?
        • Just because someone says something to you doesn’t necessarily make it the basis for a report
        • A note made contemporaneously is stronger than one made after the interview.
    • Fair comment
      • An opinion
      • Based on true facts

IMPORTANT: Look up Reynolds defence