The claimant police officer complained of an article he said was defamatory in saying he was being investigated for allegations of accepting bribes. The article remained on the internet even after he was cleared. Each party appealed interim orders.
Held: The claimant’s appeal succeeded. When investigating suspected misbehaviour by police officers, a journalist can go no further than is allowed with the Reynolds privilege.
Lord Neuberger MR said: ‘a decision in a case such as this does not involve the exercise of a discretion and cannot therefore be approached as the court suggested in Galloway.’ It is rather a judgment about whether Reynolds privilege applies.
The reportage defence needs to be treated restrictively: ‘The fact that an unidentified insider has given specific information which, if true, may incriminate a claimant, will very rarely be justifiable reportage.’
In this case the article had included details of the allegations underlying the investigation without carrying out any independent checking of their worth, and therefore Reynolds privilege could not attach.
The continued publication of the article on the web-site even after the officer had been cleared was not justifiable.
Lord Neuberger MR, Moore-Bick, Moses LJJ
 EWCA Civ 804,  WLR (D) 187,  EMLR 26,  1 WLR 153
England and Wales
Appeal from – Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd QBD 2-Oct-2009
The defendant had published a story in its newspaper. At that time it attracted Reynolds qualified privilege. After the circumstances changed, the paper offered an updating item. That offer was rejected as inadequate.
Held: The qualified . .
Cited – Cox v Feeney 1863
In an action for libel, consisting of a publication in a newspaper of a report of an inspector of charities under the Charitable Trusts Act, containing a letter, written some years before, reflecting on the plaintiff in hs management of a college: . .
Cited – Purcell v Sowler CA 1877
A Manchester newspaper reported a public meeting of poor-law guardians, in which a medical officer was said to have neglected to attend pauper patients when sent for.
Held: Publication was not privileged. The Court looked beyond the . .
Cited – Attorney General’s Reference No 3 of 1999: Application By the British Broadcasting Corporation To Set Aside or Vary a Reporting Restriction Order HL 17-Jun-2009
An application was made to discharge an anonymity order made in previous criminal proceedings before the House. The defendant was to be retried for rape under the 2003 Act, after an earlier acquittal. The applicant questioned whether such a order . .
Cited – Adam v Ward HL 1917
The plaintiff, Major Adam MP, falsely attacked General Scobell in a speech in the House of Commons, thus bringing his charge into the national arena. The Army Council investigated the charge, rejected it and directed their secretary, Sir E Ward, the . .
Cited – Pfeifer v Austria ECHR 15-Nov-2007
The right to protect one’s honour and reputation is to be treated as falling within the protection of Article 8: ‘a person’s reputation, even if that person is criticised in the context of a public debate, forms part of his or her personal identity . .
Cited – Jameel v Wall Street Journal Europe Sprl HL 11-Oct-2006
The House was asked as to the capacity of a limited company to sue for damage to its reputation, where it had no trading activity within the jurisdiction, and as to the extent of the Reynolds defence. The defendants/appellants had published an . .
Cited – In re S (a Child) (Identification: Restrictions on Publication) HL 28-Oct-2004
Inherent High Court power may restrain Publicity
The claimant child’s mother was to be tried for the murder of his brother by poisoning with salt. It was feared that the publicity which would normally attend a trial, would be damaging to S, and an application was made for reporting restrictions to . .
Cited – Cumpana Et Mazare -c- Roumanie ECHR 10-Jun-2003
Reputation can be a Convention right within Article 8. . .
Cited – Bonnick v Morris, The Gleaner Company Ltd and Allen PC 17-Jun-2002
(Jamaica) The appellant sought damages from the respondent journalists in defamation. They had claimed qualified privilege. The words alleged to be defamatory were ambiguous.
Held: The publishers were protected by Reynolds privilege. The court . .
Cited – de Buse v McCarthy CA 1942
The defendant town clerk sent out a notice of a meeting of the borough council to consider a committee report about the loss of petrol from one of the council’s depots. The report was attached to the notice which was posted at the town hall and in . .
Cited – Reynolds 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 . .
Doiubted – George 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 . .
Cited – Al-Fagih v H H Saudi Research and Marketing (UK) Ltd CA 1-Nov-2001
The media’s right to freedom of expression, particularly in the field of political discussion ‘is of a higher order’ than ‘the right of an individual to his good reputation.’ The majority upheld an appeal against a trial judge’s ruling that the . .
Cited – Clift v Slough Borough Council and Another QBD 6-Jul-2009
The claimant sought damages for defamation. The council had decided that she had threatened a member of staff and notified various people, and entered her name on a violent persons register. She alleged malice, the council pleaded justification and . .
Cited – Roberts and Another v Gable and others CA 12-Jul-2007
The claimants appealed a finding of qualified privilege in their claim of defamation by the defendant author and magazine which was said to have accused them of theft and threats of violence against other members of the BNP.
Held: The appeal . .
Cited – Loutchansky v The Times Newspapers Ltd and Others (Nos 2 to 5) CA 5-Dec-2001
Two actions for defamation were brought by the claimant against the defendant. The publication reported in detail allegations made against the claimant of criminal activities including money-laundering on a vast scale. They admitted the defamatory . .
Cited – A v Norway ECHR 9-Apr-2009
A complained that the Norwegian court had failed to protect his reputation when he lost his action for defamation. He had been released after serving his time for murder and other very serious assaults, but when arrested on suspicion of murder and . .
Cited – Times 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 . .
See Also – Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd and others QBD 5-Mar-2009
The claimant police officer complained of an alleged defamation in an article published by the defendant. The defendant wished to obtain information from the IPCC to show that they were investigating the matter as a credible issue. The court . .
Cited – JIH v News Group Newspapers Ltd CA 31-Jan-2011
Principles on Request for Anonymity Order
The defendant appealed against an order granting the anonymisation of the proceeedings.
Held: The critical question is whether there is sufficient general public interest in publishing a report of proceedings which identifies a party by name, . .
Appeal from – Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd SC 21-Mar-2012
The defendant had published an article which was defamatory of the claimant police officer, saying that he was under investigation for alleged corruption. The inquiry later cleared him. The court was now asked whether the paper had Reynolds type . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 06 February 2022; Ref: scu.420689