A unilateral Statement in Open Court [pdf] was read today before Mr Justice Nicklin, after Sir James and Lady Deirdre Dyson (“the Claimants”) accepted an offer of amends in relation to false claims made by the Daily Mail that they had behaved oppressively in 2018 towards their former housekeeper by bringing High Court proceedings against her in retaliation for her bringing an unfair dismissal claim against them.
The Daily Mail published articles in July 2019 making false and defamatory claims against the Claimants. Their former housekeeper’s claim had been struck out by the Employment Tribunal and was brought after, not before, the actions which the Daily Mail claimed were “retaliation”. An injunction had been obtained against her after she had removed private and confidential information without consent.
Proceedings were issued on 19 July 2019 and there was a trial of a preliminary issue as to meaning in January 2020. Mr Justice Nicol held that the articles meant that the Claimants had behaved oppressively towards their former housekeeper by using their immense wealth to bring High Court proceedings against her in retaliation for her unfair dismissal claim (Dyson v Associated Newspapers  1 WLR 2965). Associated Newspapers then sought permission to appeal. This was refused.
On 2 October 2020, after not admitting the claim for over 15 months and refusing to apologise or provide any form of vindication, the Defendant made clear that it would not defend the claim. An “offer of amends” was made, including damages of £100,000 but only a 3 sentence apology in the Daily Mail’s “Corrections and Clarifications” column which the Claimants described as being “wholly inadequate to provide any vindication whatsoever”.
The Claimants have donated their damages to Cure EB and have matched this with a similar donation of their own. The damages paid are very substantial bearing in mind the 50% discount which is conventionally applied on an offer of amends.
The Daily Mail did not join in the Statement in Open Court so it does not include an apology from them for the defamatory allegations which they published. The Statement concludes
“the Daily Mail has protracted the process, but it has finally admitted the articles it wrote were false and damaging. The Claimants had little option but to accept the Offer of Amends even though the Daily Mail’s apology which followed was wholly inadequate in their view”