Oh, how weird

Ms Cadwalladr is running a public interest defence and is not alleging that her statement was true.

I had thought that this really didn’t exist in English law. But it does:

Publication on matter of public interest
(1)It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that—
(a)the statement complained of was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest; and
(b)the defendant reasonably believed that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest.
(2)Subject to subsections (3) and (4), in determining whether the defendant has shown the matters mentioned in subsection (1), the court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case.
(3)If the statement complained of was, or formed part of, an accurate and impartial account of a dispute to which the claimant was a party, the court must in determining whether it was reasonable for the defendant to believe that publishing the statement was in the public interest disregard any omission of the defendant to take steps to verify the truth of the imputation conveyed by it.
(4)In determining whether it was reasonable for the defendant to believe that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest, the court must make such allowance for editorial judgement as it considers appropriate.
(5)For the avoidance of doubt, the defence under this section may be relied upon irrespective of whether the statement complained of is a statement of fact or a statement of opinion.
(6)The common law defence known as the Reynolds defence is abolished.

2013 apparently.

That’s seems to give coach and horses room for journos to libel but then IANAL and it might all be more subtle than I thought.

7 thoughts on “Oh, how weird”

  1. Doesn’t the use of “statement” imply something being quoted?

    That perhaps someone else had written it and was perhaps some form of reference to an earlier statement, possibly even in an article which criticised it, but used the whole quote for reference?

    And does anyone believe that Codswallop was being impartial?

  2. Ah.. The go-to article when you’ve been accused of “Misgendering a Pronoun”, it seems.

    It is, after all, in the public interest to thoroughly squash that madness.

  3. I think even Ms Cadwalladr’s brass neck might be a bit strained to claim that she was making “an accurate and impartial account” (subsection 3).

  4. 2013 apparently.

    Another law for lefties, then. It is clearly written for subjective interpretation (“. . . reasonably believed that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest.”) so carte blanche for activist judges. She should easily win, especially if the case is in London.

    related:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10402575/Three-Extinction-Rebellion-activists-CLEARED-obstructing-railway.html

    We’re not a nation of laws, are we?

  5. @jgh – It can be in the public interest to have a system where some unproven rumours and allegations get published. In the past we had people who were later exposed as doing bad things but who got away with it because journalists couldn’t risk publishing accusations which they personally coundn’t verify, even though many people knew they were true.

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