In a major Judgment delivered on 25 June 2024, Mr Justice Nicklin has dismissed a public interest defence advanced by The Mail on Sunday in a libel claim brought by Dr Zoë Harcombe and Dr Malcolm Kendrick.

The decision follows a preliminary trial last year in what the Judge described as “the most significant piece of defamation litigation” that he had seen in a very long time.

The case relates to articles published in March 2019, which contained allegations that the Claimants had made knowingly false statements about the cholesterol-lowering drug, statins, causing a large number of people not to take prescribed statin medication with the harm to public health that flows from this (allegations which Dr Harcombe and Dr Kendrick assert are both highly defamatory and false). The Mail on Sunday refused to apologise or even remove or alter its articles. The Claimants therefore issued High Court proceedings in February 2020.

Dismissing the newspaper’s public interest defence, the Judge observed (at paragraph [457] of his judgment) that:

“There is perhaps a palpable irony in the fact the Defendants, in Articles that so roundly denounced those alleged to be the purveyors of misinformation, so seriously misinformed their own readers.”

The case will now move on to its next phase, as the Court was not at this stage adjudicating on other aspects of the case such as the Truth defence which the Mail on Sunday is attempting to put forward, albeit the Court’s findings mean that the Defence as currently formulated, and subject to any appeal, “cannot be maintained” [563].

Dr Harcombe PhD, a writer and speaker on diet health and nutritional science, has said of the judgment:

“I am delighted by the findings of the court today, in what is a hugely complex case. I am grateful to the Judge for his detailed and careful analysis of all of the facts and pleased that he has recognised the enormity and unfairness of the public attack on our integrity.”

Dr Kendrick, a General Practitioner and author with a special interest in the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease, said:

“I am very pleased that the Judge has found in our favour, and that he has dismissed the public interest defence. It was always our position that we had not been treated fairly by the publishers, and the Judgment sets out clearly how badly we were in fact treated.”

Dr Harcombe and Dr Kendrick are represented by Claire Gill and Dominic Garner of Carter-Ruck, and by Adrienne Page KC and Godwin Busuttil of 5RB.


  • Read the full judgment here.
  • Read the summary of the judgment here.

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