Reading the Riot Act…
The London riots dominated the news agenda in August. Victims included not just those whose homes and businesses were reprehensibly attacked but also victims of the media coverage itself.
Carter-Ruck represented Bath University undergraduate Merlin O’Doherty-Alb, who had inadvertently become caught up in the troubles when the police charged at a crowd in Camden shortly after he arrived there. A photograph of a street in Camden which included Mr O’Doherty Alb was used by The Independent to illustrate one of its articles about the riots, giving the false impression that Mr O’Doherty-Alb had been a participant in the violence.
Following our complaint, The Independendent accepted that Mr O’Doherty-Alb was not guilty of any misconduct and published an apology to him and paid him damages for libel.
Mr O’Doherty-Alb is a good reminder – as if one were needed – of the fact that it’s certainly not just the rich and famous who are libelled by the media and of the importance of ensuring that ordinary individuals, charities and small businesses have fair and equal access to justice. We were only able to act for Mr O’Doherty-Alb thanks to the availabilty of a Conditional Fee (or no-win, no-fee) Agreement – a scheme which, like other aspects of the justice system, is currently the subject of potential reform through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which is going through Parliament. See here for an article by Andrew Stephenson on this issue which appeared in The Times, here for a letter written to The Guardian and here for Carter-Ruck’s submissions to the House of Commons concerning the Bill.