The Times newspapers has lost a libel claim
A Senior Prosecutor has successfully sued Times Newspapers Ltd for libel.
The Times published an article which criticised Alison Morgan, senior prosecutor, for her decision to prosecute Ben Stokes, the cricketer who was charged and then cleared of affray after an incident outside a nightclub in Bristol.
Ms Morgan argued that the criticism of her in The Times suggested to the reasonable reader that she had been professionally negligent in her decision. In defence, The Times said that professionals such as Ms Morgan should expect to have their decisions questioned.
The Judge disagreed with The Times and sided with Ms Morgan, finding that the article and the meaning it conveyed had a tendency to cause serious harm to Ms Morgan’s professional reputation.
Judith Thompson, partner at Samuels Solicitors LLP with a specialism in defamation claims says: “This is an interesting court decision, as The Times suggested that as they had not accused Ms Morgan of “habitual” incompetence, then the single allegation they have made against her was not capable of causing harm to her reputation. The fact that the judge disagreed with that defence, should serve as a warning to newspapers and other publishers who criticise the decisions of individuals who are acting in a professional capacity. While public servants should of course always be open to scrutiny, there is a difference between highlighting differences of opinion between professionals, and harming the reputation of one of those individuals by publishing statements which are untrue.”
If you are a professional whose decision has been criticised publicly, it is possible that you could have a claim for defamation, if serious harm has been caused to your reputation. You will need to act quickly as the periods of bringing a claim are very short and it is important to obtain the correct advice at the very outset.
Contact us today if you have been the victim of defamation to find out how we can assist.