Fraser v Mirza: HL 29 Mar 1993

A complaint made against a police officer may be libellous if it was made with an improper motive: ‘The motive with which a person made a defamatory communication can only be ascertained from an examination of his state of mind at the time he made it, which, as Lord Diplock said, can only be inferred from what he did or said or knew . . In the circumstances I am of the opinion that the respondent’s intentions in respect of what he was trying to convey by the letter are properly to be taken into account for the purpose of ascertaining what was the dominant motive operating on his mind at the time he wrote it . . Absent of belief in the truth of a defamatory allegation actually conveyed is, as Lord Diplock said [in Horrocks v Lowe], usually conclusive evidence of improper motive amounting to express malice. There is no valid reason for not holding that the same inference is necessarily to be drawn where the maker of the communication is proved to have intended by it to convey a defamatory allegation in the truth of which he did not believe, but which on a proper construction of the communication it is found not to bear.’


Lord Keith of Kinkel


Ind Summary 29-Mar-1993, [1993] SC (HL) 27, [1993] UKHL 14, 1993 SLT 527




CitedHorrocks v Lowe HL 1974
The plaintiff complained of an alleged slander spoken at a meeting of the Town Council. The council meeting was an occasion attracting qualified privilege. The judge at trial found that the councillor honestly believed that what he had said in the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Defamation, Police, Scotland

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.80667