Sunday, 13 December 2009

Media Law (4) - notes

Qualified Privilege:

  • Common law QP is one of the best defences for defamation.
  • The defence has to prove that the statement they have made was in the 'public interest'.
  • The publication also has to be free from malice
  • For the judge to decide, he/she will look at the whole career of publications in order to determine if the journalist in question generally reports accurately and fairly.
  • The Toogood Vs Spyring case:

Spyring accused his butler Toogood of stealing silverware so fired him. When Toogood went to get another job Spyring was asked for a reference to which he mentioned about the incident. Toogood attempted to sue claiming it would be impossible for him to get a job elsewhere, however the appeal was rejected as it was judged that Spyring was acting in the public interest.

  • Another important case for QP is the Reyonlds Vs Sunday Times:

The Times published a story that the then Prime minister of Ireland, Albert Reynolds knew about the Catholic Churches priests child abuse. Reynolds unhappy at this sued for libel but failed as the Times proved that it was in the public interest. However, the case was made very hard to judge as The Times omitted the Prime minister's response from the time of accusation, therefore meaning that he was being victimised and not being treated fairly. Subsequently this case was the starting point of the Reynolds test by which further tricky defamation cases would be measured against:

1. The seriousness of the allegation.
2. The nature of the information and whether the subject matter is of public concern.
3. The source of the information.
4. The steps taken to confirm/verify the information obtained.
5. The status of the information. Has it already been subject to investigation.
6. Urgency.
7. Was the Claimant’s comment sought.
8. Does the article contain the ‘gist’ of the Claimant version of events.
9. What is the tone of the article. Should avoid making allegations a statement of fact.
10. circumstances of the publication concerning the timing.

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