An American journalist issued the Daily Telegraph with a writ for libel after it published a lengthy apology for “errors” in her article about Melania Trump. Nina Burleigh’s writ accused the Telegraph Media Group of “capitulating abjectly” to a legal threat from a lawyer known as a “slayer”, and had wrongly turned her into “a poster girl for fake news”.
The writ detailed how the paper apologised – without consulting her – for statements the article did not contain, and for fact-checked and well-sourced material. It gave a detailed breakdown showing how the apology allegedly misquoted the original article.
Read the writ here.
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
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
Saying someone is gay is unlikely to be libellous these days, but it could be a breach of privacy under the Editor’s Code – especially if it’s not true, as one Sunday paper found. The fact that a priest told a journalist he refuted the claims did not necessarily mean he was willing to have his denial made public, Ipso found. Read more
The press regulator IPSO began work on a low-cost arbitration scheme to handle complaints about libel and privacy in June 2015 – through the Leveson Report said any scheme should be free for complainants. Read more