Reynolds and Jameel – the existing law

Before examining the proposals in Lord Lester’s Defamation Bill it is perhaps worth summarising shortly the existing state of the Reynolds common law defence. To rely on the defence, the defendant must show, first, that that there is a real public interest in communicating and receiving the information (Jameel v Wall Street Journal [2006] UKHL 44 [147], Baroness Hale). This is a matter of law for the judge ([49], Lord Hoffmann) and involves drawing a line between matters in which the public is legitimately interested and matters in which the public might have an interest, but which are nevertheless not matters of public interest ([147] Baroness Hale).

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