Church of Scientology of California v Johnson-Smith: QBD 1971

The plaintiff church sued the defendant, a Member of Parliament, for remarks made by the defendant in a television programme. He pleaded fair comment and the plaintiff replied with a plea of malice, relying on statements made in Parliament. The question arose at trial whether such reliance infringed Article 9.
Held: It did. The plaintiff could not ask the court to infer malice from statements made in Parliament, and it was not open to either party to go, directly or indirectly, into any question of the motive or intention of the defendant in anything said in Parliament.
Brown J considered a submission by the Attorney-General, saying: ‘But the Attorney-General limited what he said about the probable attitude of Parliament to the use of Hansard by agreement by saying that Hansard could be read only for a limited purpose. He said it could be read simply as evidence of fact, what was in fact said in the House, on a particular day by a particular person. But, he said, the use of Hansard must stop there and that counsel was not entitled to comment upon what had been said in Hansard or to ask the jury to draw any inferences from it . . But the general principle is quite clear I think, and that is that these extracts from Hansard which have already been read must not be used in any way which might involve questioning, in a wide sense, what was said in the House of Commons as recorded in Hansard.’

Brown J
[1972] 1 All ER 378, [1971] 3 WLR 434, [1972] 1 QB 522
Bill of Rights 1869 9
England and Wales
Cited by:
ApprovedPepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart HL 26-Nov-1992
Reference to Parliamentary Papers behind Statute
The inspector sought to tax the benefits in kind received by teachers at a private school in having their children educated at the school for free. Having agreed this was a taxable emolument, it was argued as to whether the taxable benefit was the . .
CitedJennings v Buchanan PC 14-Jul-2004
(New Zealand) (Attorney General of New Zealand intervening) The defendant MP had made a statement in Parliament which attracted parliamentary privilege. In a subsequent newspaper interview, he said ‘he did not resile from his claim’. He defended the . .
CitedHamilton v Al Fayed HL 23-Mar-2000
The claimant MP sued the defendant in defamation after he had alleged that the MP had corruptly solicited and received payments and benefits in kind as a reward for parliamentary services rendered.
Held: Parliament has protected by privilege . .
AppliedRegina v Secretary of State for Trade, Ex parte Anderson Strathclyde Plc QBD 1983
A proposed takeover had been referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission under the 1973 Act. A majority of the Commission recommended against the takeover. The Deputy (acting instead of the Secretary who had an interest) overruled the . .
CitedOffice of Government Commerce v Information Commissioner and Another Admn 11-Apr-2008
The Office appealed against decisions ordering it to release information about the gateway reviews for the proposed identity card system, claiming a qualified exemption from disclosure under the 2000 Act.
Held: The decision was set aside for . .
CitedPrebble v Television New Zealand Ltd PC 27-Jun-1994
(New Zealand) The plaintiff, an MP, pursued a defamation case. The defendant wished to argue for the truth of what was said, and sought to base his argument on things said in Parliament. The plaintiff responded that this would be a breach of . .
CitedChaytor and Others, Regina v CACD 30-Jul-2010
The defendants had been members of the Houses of Commons and of Lords. They faced charges of dishonesty in respect of their expenses claims. They now appealed a finding that they were not subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament under . .
CitedMakudi v Baron Triesman of Tottenham In London Borough of Haringey QBD 1-Feb-2013
The claimant, former chairman of the Thailand Football Association, claimed in defamation against the defendant who had been chairman of the English Football Association. The defendant asked the court to strike out the claim, saying that some of the . .
CitedKimathi and Others v Foreign and Commonwealth Office QBD 20-Dec-2017
Parliamentary privilege The claimants sought to have admitted as evidence extracts from Hansard in support of their claim for damages arising from historic claims.
Held: The court set out the authorities and made orders as to each element. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Defamation, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.182423