Mirror Successfully Defends Libel Claim Against Dyson

Donna Smith  13-12-2023

Sir James Dyson (founder and chairman of the Dyson company which is present in 84 markets around the world) brought a libel action against the Mirror newspaper over an article dating from January 2022, which commented on Dyson’s decision to establish his global headquarters in Singapore.

The article was published online under the headline “Our government is making young people believe that cheats do prosper” and the following day the same article was published under the headline “Message to young folks today is that cheats do prosper”.

The articles suggested Dyson was a hypocrite, who had "screwed the country" and who consequently set a poor moral example to young people.

Dyson sued the Mirror for damages, saying the articles were harmful to his reputation and highly distressing and hurtful. Dyson stated “I have prioritised setting a good moral example to young people … So to be accused by the Defendant in the Articles of being a hypocrite who had screwed the country and who set a poor moral example to young people is not only wrong but incredibly harmful to my reputation.”

The Mirror defended the publication of the Articles, saying they were "honest opinion". 

The judge stated that there were two issues which needed to be determined, whether the defence of honest opinion should succeed and whether Dyson established that he has suffered “serious harm” to his reputation as a result of the Articles being published. 

The judge stated that the subject of the January 2022 articles (Dyson moving production of his products out of the UK and to factories in the Far East), was very much "old news" and that most people must already have formed a view about Dyson’s decision three years earlier. 

The judge found that Dyson could not demonstrate that he had suffered financial loss as a result of the publications and that he could not show that his philanthropic work, particularly directed to young people and schools, had been harmed in any way. 

The judge dismissed Dyson’s claim, finding that Dyson had not proved serious harm to his reputation and that the Mirror succeeded on the defence of honest opinion.

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