Archive of old topics pre-October 2007. PM a mod to get one reopened
Why are they not sued more often?

The Express has got bad for this lately, but todays Daily Star really takes the piss. I'm as sick as everyone of the Maddie thing, but this is in poor taste!


They didn't even put invertered commas on 'burned'
By Samanfur
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The lack of any kind of cap on libel damages tends to put a lot of people off, because they don't want to risk being saddled with costs if it backfires.

Plus, I haven't read the story, but as long as it doesn't defame Kate and Gerry, there's a limit to what they can do, since Madeleine herself is dead and therefore has no legal protection.

My NCTJ law tutor was quite smug about this, since I was taking my classes during the period of the entire Soham investigation (a classmate working for The Times kept missing classes due to being sent down there) and we had a handy set of object studies as a result.

What I'd like to see is a bit more use of prosecution for malicious falsehood (which is capped, but people don't seem to know about) in defamation cases, and some actual enforcement of the contempt of court regulations, since I'd be surprised if any solicitor worth their salt couldn't easily get a case against the McCanns dropped on the grounds that there's no way to get an uncontaminated jury pool after this publicity.

You could say the same about anywhere in the world in this case. After all this publicity, it's perfectly plausible to argue that short of a couple of blokes from the Antarctic research station and a representative of whichever tribe Bruce Parry's bunking with this week, people will either be too convinced of the McCanns' piety or too convinced that they've been scammed to be objective.

I'm surprised that nobody's pointed that out.
Last edited by Samanfur on Sat Sep 22, 2007 10:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
By hel
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i think another reason why they can get away with it is the fact that it is only the headline that is libellous - the rest of the article is truthful. in the '90s there was a case of 2 actors from "neighbours" whose faces were photoshopped onto pictures of porn stars and the headline said they were having sex, but the article made it clear that the pictures were fake - the actors tried to sue but failed because the court looked at the article as a whole, not just the headline and photos.
with the mccanns' case in particular, if they are tried in portugal, the british press can say what they like without worrying about affecting a jury's perceptions of the case, because portugal doesn't have jury trials. (i'm far from being an expert on portuguese law so correct me if i'm wrong, but i'm about 99% sure they have trial by judges rather than trial by jury).
By Samanfur
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Chris wrote:I suppose that's what you get for having no independent regulatory body.
To be honest, I keep an eye on these things. I was told when I was being taught that there're certain provisions of the Human Rights Act that could give public figures such a right to privacy that they'd basically castrate the press' investigative ability and restrict them to taking everything at face value.

These have been left lying around as an unratified standing order for years, with the threat that if the PCC doesn't do its job, they will be passed as a formality.

I'm forgetting the specific names and verbatim clauses involved. I'll dig around when I have a minute and see if I can find them.

But I've been watching how far the press'll go ever since, and waiting to see if anything'll be classed as provocation.

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