Sir Elton John and his partner were awarded substantial damages over a national newspaper report that said their dog attacked a child, causing serious images, and that they had not asked about her recovery. The story proved to be wrong. Read more
Former columnist Katie Hopkins was said to have entered into a voluntary arrangement – often used to avoid bankrupcy – after being ordered to pay heavy damages and legal costs over libellous tweets. She had refused an offer to settle the case with a £5,000 payment to charity. Read more
The Independent Press Standards Organisation introduced an arbitration scheme in November 2017, as urged by the Leveson Report, to enable members of the public to complain against publications without the prohibitive expense of going to court. Complaints cost £50 up front and another £50 if they go to a final ruling; but publishers found “guilty” face paying out up to £50,000 (still far less than a libel case might cost). Complaints under the Editor’s Code remain free. Read more from IPSO here.
Claimants in libel cases do not have to prove they have suffered serious harm in order to win, a judge has ruled. They merely have to argue that the words used are seriously harmful, said the judge in a case involving a divorcing couple. This reverses previous understanding of the protection given in the 2013 Defamation Act, reports UK Press Gazette. Read more
There are also links to various legal commentators’ views at the Inforrm blog, published by the International Forum for Responsible Media, here
The Sunday Times successfully used the defence of responsible journalism on a matter of public interest to fend off a libel claim by former MP Tim Yeo, who had been the subject of a sting. The politician must pay more than £400,000 in costs. Read more
The new “serious harm” test for libel in England and Wales has discouraged frivolous claims, say campaigners: but with the Scottish Parliament refusing to adopt most reforms in the 2013 Defamation Act, Scotland is now being used as a back door for libel action, they say. The Glasgow Herald has complained of a “chilling effect on press freedom”. Read more
Publishers could have to pay costs for both sides in defamation cases even if they win, if Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 is enacted. Along with “no win, no fee” actions, this could have a severely chilling effect on the ability of regional publishers to defend actions, says the HoldTheFrontPage law column. It could be challenged on human rights grounds, it says. Read more