Bladet Tromso and Stensaas v Norway: ECHR 20 May 1999

A newspaper and its editor complained that their right to freedom of expression had been breached when they were found liable in defamation proceedings for statements in articles which they had published about the methods used by seal hunters in the hunting of harp seals.
Held: The Court considered whether the newspaper had a reasonable basis for its factual allegations to decide whether it was correct to restrict the freedom to publish. ‘Although the press must not overstep certain bounds, in particular in respect of the reputation and rights of others and the need to prevent the disclosure of confidential information, its duty is nevertheless to impart – in a manner consistent with its obligations and responsibilities – information and ideas on all matters of public interest.’ As to balance: ‘Article 10 of the Convention does not, however, guarantee a wholly freedom of expression even with respect to press coverage of matters of serious public concern. Under the terms of paragraph 2 of the Article the exercise of this freedom carries with it ‘duties and responsibilities’ which also apply to the press. These ‘duties and responsibilities’ are liable to assume significance when, as in the present case, there is question of attacking the reputation of private individuals and examining the ‘rights of others’. As pointed out by the government, the seal hunters’ right to protection of their honour and reputation is itself internationally recognised under Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Also of relevance for the balancing of competing interests which the Court must carry out is the fact that under article 6(2) of the Convention the seal hunters had a right to be presumed innocent of any criminal offence until proved guilty. By reason of the duties and responsibilities’ inherent in the exercise of the freedom of expression, the safeguard afforded by article 10 to journalists in relation to reporting on issues of general interest is subject to the proviso that they are acting in good faith to provide accurate and reliable information in accordance with the ethics of journalism.’
21980/93, (2000) 29 EHRR 125, [1999] ECHR 29
Bailii, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 10
Human Rights
Cited by:
CitedReynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd and others HL 28-Oct-1999
Fair Coment on Political Activities
The defendant newspaper had published articles wrongly accusing the claimant, the former Prime Minister of Ireland of duplicity. The paper now appealed, saying that it should have had available to it a defence of qualified privilege because of the . .
CitedCampbell v Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd (MGN) (No 1) HL 6-May-2004
The claimant appealed against the denial of her claim that the defendant had infringed her right to respect for her private life. She was a model who had proclaimed publicly that she did not take drugs, but the defendant had published a story . .
CitedLoutchansky v Times Newspapers Limited (No 2) CA 12-Mar-2001
The defendants appealed against a refusal to allow them to amend their pleadings. They wished to include allegations as to matters which were unknown to the journalist at the time of publication.
Held: It is necessary for the defendants to . .
CitedGeorge Galloway MP v Telegraph Group Ltd QBD 2-Dec-2004
The claimant MP alleged defamation in articles by the defendant newspaper. They claimed to have found papers in Iraqi government offices after the invasion of Iraq which implicated the claimant. The claimant said the allegations were grossly . .
CitedGeorge Galloway MP v The Telegraph Group Ltd CA 25-Jan-2006
The defendant appealed agaiunst a finding that it had defamed the claimant by repeating the contents of papers found after the invasion of Iraq which made claims against the claimant. The paper had not sought to justify the claims, relying on . .
CitedTimes Newspapers Ltd (Nos. 1 And 2) v The United Kingdom ECHR 10-Mar-2009
The applicant alleged that the rule under United Kingdom law whereby each time material is downloaded from the Internet a new cause of action in libel proceedings accrued (‘the Internet publication rule’) constituted an unjustifiable and . .
CitedFinancial Times Ltd and Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 15-Dec-2009
The claimants said that an order that they deliver up documents leaked to them regarding a possible takeover violated their right to freedom of expression. They complained that such disclosure might lead to the identification of journalistic . .
CitedDoctor A and Others v Ward and Another FD 9-Feb-2010
. .
CitedMGN Limited v United Kingdom ECHR 18-Jan-2011
The applicant publisher said that the finding against it of breach of confidence and the system of success fees infringed it Article 10 rights to freedom of speech. It had published an article about a model’s attendance at Narcotics anonymous . .
CitedBritish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Ahmad Admn 11-Jan-2012
The BBC wished to interview the prisoner who had been detained pending extradition to the US since 2004, and now challenged decision to refuse the interview.
Held: The claim succeeded. The decision was quashed and must be retaken. If ever any . .
CitedSeckerson and Times Newspapers Ltd v The United Kingdom ECHR 24-Jan-2012
The first applicant had been chairman of a jury and had expressed his concerns about their behaviour to the second applicant who published them. They were prosecuted under the 1981 Act. They had said that no details of the deliberations had been . .
CitedTimes Newspapers Ltd and Others v Flood and Others SC 11-Apr-2017
Three newspaper publishers, having lost defamation cases, challenged the levels of costs awarded against them, saying that the levels infringed their own rights of free speech.
Held: Each of the three appeals was dismissed. . .
CitedTurley v Unite The Union and Another QBD 19-Dec-2019
Defamation of Labour MP by Unite and Blogger
The claimant now a former MP had alleged that a posting on a website supported by the first defendant was false and defamatory. The posting suggested that the claimant had acted dishonestly in applying online for a category of membership of the . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 17 March 2021; Ref: scu.165714