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Defamation Actions in 2011: Statements in Open Court

In a post earlier this week we considered the final hearings in defamation claims in 2011.  But not all defamation cases are dealt with at hearings or trials.  A substantial number were settled by the defendant agreeing to pay damages and costs and making a statement in open court.   With the invaluable assistance of Mr Benjamin Pell we have now identified 24 (not the 15 mentioned in our earlier post).  This substantially down from 46 statements made in 2010 (see our January 2010 post on the disposal of defamation actions).   In contrast to the determinations by the courts, the large majority of these (21 out of 24) involved the mainstream media.  There is a list of statements in open court at the bottom of this post.

In our previous post we identified 23 “final determinations” by the courts in 2011.  Added to the 24 statements in open court, this gives a total of 47 defamation cases determined in 2011.  This can be contrasted with the 158 defamation cases commenced in 2010 (the last year for which figures are available).  It seems likely that there will have been other settlements of libel actions which have resulted in apologies but no statement in open court.  In addition, there will be cases which have been discontinued or struck out without a judgment being delivered.

The low number of statements in open court in 2011 is another indication of the declining numbers of libel cases before the English courts.  In a previous post, we had the figures for statements in open court for each legal year from 1 October 2003.  These figures ranged from 63 (2007 to 2008) to 39 (2004-2005 and 2005-2006).  However, in the legal year commencing 1 October 2010 the figure was only 27.

STATEMENTS IN OPEN COURT IN LIBEL CASES IN 2011

12.1.11  SIOC/10/1503 Vardy v Tribune Publications 2009 Ltd & anr.This was widely reported in the media – for example in the claimant’s local paper the “Sunderland Echo” and by the BBC.
2.3.11  SIOC/11/0245 Mzimba v Independent News & Media Ltd & anr. A TV journalist accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages over a claim that he had behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner on a documentary assignment.   There is a report of the case on Varsity Online which explains some of the background.
2.3.11  SIOC/11/0263 Erdogan v Telegraph Media. The Prime Minister of Turkey, has received substantial undisclosed libel damages from the Daily Telegraph after it alleged he accepted a donation to his political party from Iran.  The Statement in Open Court is here. There is also a Press Release and an Apology.
9.3.11   SIOC/11/0288 The Right Honourable Sir Stephen Sedley v Telegraph Media Group.  This was an apology to Court of Appeal judge Sir Stephen Sedley by the “Daily Telegraph”. There was a report about the case on the 5RB Website as well as in the Press Gazette and the Lawyer.
7.4.11  SIOC/11/0428 Halyvourgiki Inc v Citigroup Global Markets Ltd.  The case concerned inaccuracies in a research report issued by the defendant.
9.6.11  TLJ/10/1219 (sic) Henry v News Group Newspapers Ltd. This concerned the libel claim brought by a social worker involved in the “Baby P” case. The “Sun” also published an apology to Ms Henry, indicating that it had agreed to pay compensation.  There was a story about the statement in the Press Gazette.
15.6.11   SIOC/11/0706 Broccoli v Associated Newspapers Ltd.  This was made by the James Bond films producer Barbara Broccoli in a libel action against the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday over stories which suggested she had improperly obtained a grant from the UK Film Council. There is a report in the Press Gazette. The Mail also published an apology which is discussed on the Tabloid Watch blog.
7.7.11  SIOC/11/0778 Amanat v Express Newspapers & ors. This concerned articles in three Express titles falsely describing the claimant as an “imposter” when he attended a film premier.
28.7.11  SIOC/11/0889 Marcucci & anr v BBC. Paolo and Guelfo Marcucci, owners of the Marcucci Group of companies, against the BBC for suggestions made in its Panorama programme “The Price of Blood” that they had sold infected blood products.

29.7.11  SIOC/11/0892 Jefferies v Express Newspapers & ors; SIOC/11/0893 Jeffries v The Scotsman Publications Ltd; SIOC/11/0894  Jeffries v News Group Newspapers Ltd & ors. Eight national newspapers made apologies to Christopher Jefferies for the defamatory allegations made against him in relation to the death of Joanna Yeates and agreed to pay him substantial libel damages.

4.8.11  SIOC/11/0916 HRH Prince Nayef Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud v Independent Print Ltd & anr.  In respect of a libel claim brought by Prince Nayef Bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud against the Independent newspaper following their publication of an inflammatory statement falsely attributed to the Prince. The statement was reported, inter alia, by the BBC.

5.10.11  SIOC/11/1092 Cleverley v News Group Newspapers Ltd.  This concerned a story about a Manchester United footballer and was read after the “Sun” had made an offer of amends.  There is a story about the case in the Press Gazette.

18.10.11  SIOC/11/1111 Lady Moore v Associated Newspapers Ltd.  Claim against “Daily Mail” in respect of a false claims about past relationships.  There is a report in the “Guardian”

19.11.11  SIOC/11/1127 Kilkenny v Associated Newspapers Ltd. Associated Newspapers agreed to pay substantial damages to the former manager of Susan Boyle over an article that falsely suggested he had lied about the Britain’s Got Talent finalist’s finances.  There was a story in the “Guardian”.

20.10.11  SIOC/11/1149 Baturina v Times Newspapers Ltd.   After the Sunday Times wrongly claimed that Russia’s richest woman Elena Baturina had secretly bought a £50m mansion in Highgate, London. The Guardian had a report here.

1.11.11  SIOC/11/1159 Caplin v Associated Newspapers Ltd.  Made following the acceptance of an offer of amends made by the “Daily Mail”.

10.11.11  SIOC/11/1228 McCarthy v MGN Ltd.  The People apologised at the High Court to Dale Farm resident and campaigner, Kathleen McCarthy, and agreed to pay her substantial libel damages.  There is a news item on the claimant’s solicitors’ website.

11.11.11  SIOC/11/1149 Gibbs v News Group Newspapers Ltd.  News Group Newspapers accepted that the allegation that retired musician George Gibbs was a paedophile was untrue and that it was wrong to publish it. It agreed to publish a correction and pay substantial damages to Gibbs for the libel. PA Media Lawyer reported the case here.

15.11.11 SIOC/11/1223 Wu v Ma & anr;

15.11.11  SIOC/11/1259 Marinakis v Haymarket Media Group Ltd;

15.11.11 SIOC/11/1219 Tweedy v Bauer Media Ltd;  Tweedy v Express Newspapers.  These concerned Cheryl Cole’s brother, Garry Tweedy, who had been wrongly accused by Heat magazine and the Daily Star of having a criminal record (on the basis of a false Facebook profile). There were many reports of these statements, including Press Gazette, the Guardian and Tabloid Watch.

2.12.11 TLJ/10/0482 (sic) Andre v Price. Katie Price agreed to pay undisclosed libel damages to her ex-husband, the singer Peter Andre, over claims that he was unfaithful to her. There was a news story on the BBC website.

1 Comment

  1. Andy J

    Many thanks for these additional details which largely answer my comment on the earlier posting. In light of these figures, is the problem of ‘out of control’ litigation and threats of litigation over defamation really as serious as it is being characterised by some witnesses before the Leveson Inquiry? Granted newspapers are under financial pressure due to a decline in overall sales, but should that factor really be taken into account? A proposal being mooted is that all defamation claims against the print media might have to be handled by a new press regulation body rather than the courts. This would mean that private individuals (possibly including bloggers and the like) would continue to face the expense of the courts, while the press with all their resources to apply ethical standards would face a cheaper and arguably less rigorous arbitration route.

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