Media Law: Recent Work Archive: 2009
Trafigura and the BBC
The BBC has apologised to Trafigura over false allegations broadcast by Newsnight in May 2009. As well as apologising and withdrawing the allegations, the BBC has agreed to pay substantial damages (which will go to a charity nominated by Trafigura) as well as Trafigura's reasonable legal costs.
Derek Simpson - Unite leader secures News of the World victory
Derek Simpson, the Joint General Secretary of Unite (the UK's largest trade union), has won his libel claim over false allegations concerning his election that appeared in the News of the World.
An apology has already been published and the newspaper has agreed to pay a substantial sum in damages and costs.
The newspaper has also apologised in court to Mr Simpson.
Sir Dave Richards - Apology
The Sun has published an apology to the Chairman of the Premier League, Sir Dave Richards, in respect of allegations contained in a series of articles about Sulaiman Al Fahim's takeover of Portsmouth Football Club. The Sun made clear that, contrary to suggestions in their reports, Sir Dave did not help introduce the parties or to put the deal together and was not subjected to any "probe" by the Premier League in relation to the takeover.
The model Matt Peacock has settled his libel case against the Sunday Mirror, brought over publication of a false allegation concerning his ex-wife. The newspaper agreed to pay Mr Peacock substantial damages.
The Guardian has published an apology to the boxing commentator Steve Bunce, for false allegations it published in relation to the website www.bringbackbunce.net. The Guardian has also agreed to pay Mr Bunce substantial damages and his legal costs.
Tom Watson MP wins claim over email smears libel
News Group Newspapers, the publisher of the Sun, has apologised in the High Court to former Cabinet Office Minister, Tom Watson MP. The Sun alleged in April 2009 that Mr Watson had been a party to the Damian McBride and Derek Draper plot to smear the Conservatives and that Mr Watson had lied when he denied his involvement. The Sun has now accepted these allegations were entirely untrue and has agreed to pay substantial damages to Mr Watson.
The Guardian has published an apology and is paying damages to Liam Gallagher for falsely alleging that he stormed out in the middle of the Oasis iTunes concert at the Roundhouse on 21 July and did not return. As the Guardian now accepts, Mr Gallagher only briefly left the stage whilst his brother sang two songs, as is normal during their performance. Mr Gallagher has decided to donate the damages to charity.
William Van Gordon and Edo Shonin win libel damages
The Daily Mail has apologised and paid substantial damages to two Buddhist monks, William Van Gordon and Edo Shonin over an article published in the newspaper and on its website on 25 May 2007 in which it was falsely alleged that Mr Van Gordon had been brainwashed by Edo Shonin and in which they were falsely accused of running a cult.
The BBC and the Metro have both agreed to publish full apologies to Liam Gallagher for falsely alleging that he stormed off stage for half an hour during the Oasis iTunes concert at the Roundhouse on 21 July. As the BBC and Metro now accept, Mr Gallagher only briefly left the stage whilst his brother sang two songs as is normal during their performance. Both the BBC and Metro have agreed to pay Mr Gallagher's legal costs.
Nadhmi Auchi - The Washington Times / Elaph
Nadhmi Auchi, the businessman and philanthropist, has successfully settled his claims for defamation against the publishers of The Washington Times and Elaph, the latter being a London-based Arabic online newspaper. As well as paying substantial damages, Elaph has removed the defamatory article from its website and published a prominent apology to Mr Auchi. The Washington Times has also removed the article complained of from its website, undertaken not to republish it and issued a letter requesting that any third party re-publishing all or part of its article should stop doing so.
Shakil Akhtar has received £100,000 in libel damages from the News of the World in respect of false allegations connecting him to the funding of terrorist organisations. The News of the World also agreed to publish an unequivocal apology.
Press ReleaseStatement in Open Court
Frank Warren in Libel Victory
Frank Warren won his libel case against the former heavyweight world champion boxer Herbie Hide. Herbie Hide falsely claimed in a live interview with Steve Bunce, the well-known boxing commentator, that Frank Warren had bribed the boxer Johnny Nelson to give up his title belt in favour of Enzo Maccarinelli. This was completely untrue and Frank Warren was awarded £35,000 in damages, together with an injunction and costs, after the High Court heard evidence from him, finding that the allegation was "a very serious allegation in the world of boxing". His Honour Judge Moloney QC (Sitting as a Judge of the High Court) found Frank Warren to be "genuinely affronted, offended and distressed" by the allegations broadcast live on Setanta last year and wanted the sum in damages to show that "Mr Warren has received the full vindication of the Court".
Secretary General of MCB secures Question Time apology and £45,000 libel damages from the BBC
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, who is the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, has received a fulsome apology and £45,000 in damages from the BBC. Dr Bari had complained in relation to false and defamatory allegations broadcast on the flagship BBC1 programme Question Time on 12 March 2009.
Her Highness Sheikha Mouza Al-Misnad – Apology
The Observer has apologised to Her Highness Sheikha Mouza Bint Nasser Al Misnad Al Thani, wife of the Emir of Qatar, following the publication of false allegations concerning Qatari investment in Barclays Bank.
Senior Intelligence Expert wins complaint over Iraq War libel
The Daily Telegraph has paid damages and published an apology to Dr Brian Jones, the country's most senior intelligence expert on weapons of mass destruction in the period leading up to the Iraq war, over articles published in the newspaper and on its website on 20 March 2009 that falsely alleged that he had leaked information to the media before the Iraq war.
Mohamed Taranissi - BBC Panorama
The long-running libel proceedings brought against the BBC by Mohamed Taranissi, the well known consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist and IVF specialist, have been successfully resolved. Mr Taranissi brought the action (on his own behalf and that of his clinic the ARGC), following the broadcast of the Panorama programme, "IVF Undercover" on 15 January 2007.
The settlement follows the withdrawal by the BBC of its "responsible journalism" defence in October 2008, the court's decision to strike-out a substantial part of the BBC's remaining defence of justification in May 2009, and the making of very substantial costs orders in Mr Taranissi's favour.
On 23 May, Magnus Boyd was interviewed by John Humphries on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on how reporting of court proceedings on the internet has impacted on the law of contempt of court.
Trafigura, the leading commodities trader, has issued libel proceedings in relation to allegations broadcast on the BBC Newsnight programme on 13 May 2009.
Minister wins claim over email smears libel
Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail, has apologised in the High Court to Tom Watson MP, over false allegations that he was copied in on emails exchanged between Damian McBride and Derek Draper in which they were reported to have discussed serious and false allegations concerning the private lives of various Conservative Party MPs. The Mail accepted its allegations were untrue and has paid substantial damages to Mr Watson.
Michael Winner has won his libel complaint against the Daily Express. The newspaper has published an apology and made a donation to a charity chosen by Mr Winner, as well as paying his legal costs.
Andrew Pelling MP - Mail on Sunday
Andrew Pelling MP has settled his libel and privacy claim against The Mail On Sunday, which had published false allegations about his first marriage. The newspaper has published an apology in which it accepts that its allegations were untrue and has paid substantial damages and costs.
Mr Pelling was represented by Claire Gill.
Parliament Calls on Carter-Ruck
At Parliament's invitation, two Carter-Ruck partners have given evidence at the House of Commons before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into press standards, privacy and libel.
Click here to view the session
Mark Thomson gave evidence on 24 February 2009.
Footballer wins against BBC
Peterborough United player Craig Mackail-Smith has obtained an apology from the BBC together with substantial damages for libel and privacy. Mr Mackail-Smith, who is the club’s star striker, had complained to the BBC following the broadcast of a false allegation that he had suffered a nervous breakdown.
Nadhmi Auchi - New Statesman
Nadhmi Auchi, the businessman and philanthropist, has won his libel complaint against The New Statesman. As well as paying Mr Auchi substantial damages and his legal costs, the magazine has published an apology both on its website and in a separate letter to Mr Auchi.
Erin Pizzey - Andrew Marr
Erin Pizzey, the prominent feminist and writer, has won her libel complaint against Macmillan Publishers in respect of allegations contained within Andrew Marr's 'A History of Modern Britain.' As well as apologising through a Statement in Open Court, Macmillan has recalled all unsold copies of the book and has agreed to pay Ms. Pizzey a significant sum in damages.
Kate and Gerry McCann
The Evening Standard has published a statement of regret to Kate and Gerry McCann.
The firm is representing Simon Cowell in ongoing media matters.
Jane Tanner, Russell O’Brien, Fiona Payne, David Payne, Matthew Oldfield, Rachael Oldfield and Dianne Webster, the group of friends who were with Kate and Gerry McCann when their daughter Madeleine was abducted in Portugal in May 2007, have secured full apologies and £375,000 in damages from Express Newspapers. At the friends’ request, the damages are all to be donated to the Find Madeleine Fund.
Tesco - Guardian
Tesco has obtained the publication of the first ever front page apology by the Guardian, together with a further apology inside the newspaper, for the false allegations it published about the Company’s tax affairs.
Frank Warren, the boxing promoter, accepted substantial libel damages from the publisher Random House over allegations published in the book "Ricky Hatton: The Hitman, My Story". The book is the autobiography of Ricky Hatton, the former lightweight IBF world champion, who was promoted by Frank Warren between 1997 and 2004. It was written in association with the Daily Express boxing journalist, Niall Hickman.
Sir Robert Atkins MEP
Sir Robert Atkins MEP has secured an apology and damages from the Daily Telegraph.
Michael Mates MP
Michael Mates MP has won libel damages and an apology from the Guardian relating to material published on its website.
MCB officer wins claim over Prince Harry allegations
Inayat Bunglawala, Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, has won a full apology and £45,000 in libel damages against the Daily Express over false allegations of extremism. The allegations appeared in an article concerning Prince Harry’s active service in Afghanistan.
Prince Radu of Romania
Prince Radu of Romania has won a further victory in his claim for libel against the editor and publisher of Royalty Monthly magazine. The magazine appealed against the decision of Mr Justice Eady, following an earlier trial of this issue, that the article complained of was not the product of responsible journalism. The Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the appeal.
Boris Berezovsky has won a significant first-round victory in his libel case against Russian state-owned broadcaster VGTRK. The broadcaster tried unsuccessfully to persuade the court to decline jurisdiction on the unusual ground that the claim was "non-justiciable", namely it was prevented, by virtue of Russian legislation, from defending the claim because it could not identify its source, who, it was claimed, was under Russian-State protection. Mr Justice Eady found that the case, the facts of which are highly unusual, and which concerns allegations "at the top end of the scale of gravity", should be allowed to continue unless there were "cogent and compelling" reasons to justify depriving Mr Berezovsky of the opportunity to challenge the allegations. On the evidence, those reasons had not been made out.
The actress Tilda Swinton has secured apologies from the Daily Express, the Daily Mail and the Scottish Mail on Sunday.
The Sun has published a full apology to actor Rhys Ifans over false allegations concerning Sienna Miller and fellow actor Matthew Rhys.
Mr Ifans was represented by Mark Thomson.
Charley Uchea, the reality TV celebrity and model who appeared in Channel 4's Big Brother in 2007, has won her libel action against the Daily Star.
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III - Asharq Al Awsat
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, has settled his libel action against the London based Arabic language newspaper Asharq Al Awsat on confidential terms, which include the publication of a full apology.
Alan Duncan MP
The Sunday Times and the News of the World have published corrections and apologies to Alan Duncan MP, the shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, following the publication of false allegations.
Nigel Farage - Sunday Times
Times Newspapers has apologised to Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, over false allegations published in the Sunday Times that Mr Farage used taxpayers’ money to employ his son while he was in full-time education. The article suggested that Mr Farage was a hypocrite for condemning other MEPs who exploited the EU “gravy train”. As well as apologising in open court, Times Newspapers has published an apology in the Sunday Times and has agreed to pay Mr Farage damages.
Nigel Farage was represented by Andrew Stephenson.
Nadhmi Auchi - Guardian/Observer/Times
Businessman and philanthropist, Nadhmi Auchi has settled his libel claim against the Guardian and Observer newspapers in relation to six articles published on the Guardian website since 2003. The Guardian accepted that the articles contained "significant inaccuracies", has undertaken not to republish them and has written to search engines requesting that they do not publish the articles complained of and remove all links and hyperlinks to them on the internet.
Separately, Mr Auchi has won a libel complaint against The Times in respect of an article published on 1 February 2008. The Times published an apology to Mr Auchi and has substantially amended the on-line version of the article complained.