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 Reynolds privilege.
Held: The appeal failed. The judge had applied the correct tests for the balance between freedom of the press and the duty not to defame: ‘the newspaper was indeed entitled to report both the finding of the Baghdad documents and their content, but only subject both to giving Mr Galloway a fair opportunity to comment on them and to carrying out such investigation as was appropriate before publication.’ The judge had accepted that the paper had gone beyond mere comment to adopt the allegations, making very serious accusations against him. Whatever the precise line between fact and comment, the allegations which the judge considered not to be protected by qualified privilege were allegations of fact not opinion. The defences of fair comment and qualified provilege had been considered correctly by the judge.
Sir Anthony Clarke MR said: ‘The right to publish must however be balanced against the rights of the individual. That balance is a matter for the judge. It is not a matter for an appellate court. This court will not interfere with the judge’s conclusion after weighing all the circumstances in the balance unless he has erred in principle or reached a conclusion which is plainly wrong.’


Sir Anthony Clarke MR, Chadwick LJ, Laws LJ


[2006] EWCA Civ 17, Times 06-Feb-2006, [2006] EMLR 11




England and Wales


Appeal fromGeorge 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 . .
CitedJameel and Another v Wall Street Journal Europe Sprl (No 2) CA 3-Feb-2005
The claimant sought damages for an article published by the defendant, who argued that as a corporation, the claimant corporation needed to show special damage, and also that the publication had qualified privilege.
Held: ‘It is an established . .
CitedPrager And Oberschlick v Austria ECHR 26-Apr-1995
Article 10 requires that journalists be permitted a good deal of latitude in how they present their material and that a degree of exaggeration must also be accepted. The media have a special place in any democratic society as purveyor of information . .
CitedBladet 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 . .
CitedSelisto v Finland ECHR 16-Nov-2004
ECHR Judgment (Merits and Just Satisfaction) – Violation of Art. 10; Pecuniary damage – financial award; Non-pecuniary damage – financial award; Costs and expenses partial award – domestic proceedings; Costs and . .
CitedKemsley v Foot HL 25-Feb-1952
Fair Comment Crticism of Newspaper Publisher
The plaintiff alleged that the headline to an article written by the defendant which criticised the behaviour of the Beaverbrook Press, and which read ‘Lower than Kemsley’ was defamatory. The defendant pleaded fair comment. The plaintiff appealed. . .
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 . .
CitedLoutchansky 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 . .
CitedAl-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 . .
CitedBranson v Bower (No 1) CA 24-May-2001
The test of whether comment was fair comment is simply that of whether the opinion was honestly expressed, and on the basis of facts accurately stated. There is no special rule for imputations of corruption or dishonest motives. Nor is there any . .
CitedThoma v Luxembourg ECHR 29-Mar-2001
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Violation of Art. 10; Pecuniary damage – financial award; Non-pecuniary damage – finding of violation sufficient; Costs and expenses partial award
The Court was . .
CitedClarke v Norton 1910
(Victoria) The court considered what was fair comment: ‘More accurately it has been said that the sense of comment is ‘something which is or can reasonably be inferred to be a deduction, inference, conclusion, criticism, remark, observation etc.’ . .
CitedLingens v Austria ECHR 8-Jul-1986
Freedom of expression, as secured in paragraph 1 of Article 10, constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for each individual’s self-fulfilment. Subject to paragraph 2, . .
CitedBusuioc v Moldova ECHR 21-Dec-2004
ECHR Judgment (Merits and Just Satisfaction) – Violation of Art. 10 with regard to certain statements; No violation of Art. 10 with regard to other statements; Pecuniary damage – financial award; Non-pecuniary . .
CitedMark v Associated Newspapers Limited CA 29-May-2002
The claimant sought damages in defamation saying that the defendant had said she had authorised publication of extracts from her book about her time working as housekeeper for the prime minister’s family before she had obtained proper authority for . .

Cited by:

CitedCharman v Orion Publishing Group Ltd and others QBD 13-Jul-2006
The claimant police officer sought damages from the defendants who had published a book alleging that he had been corrupt. The defendants claimed privilege under Reynolds and the 1996 Act.
Held: The defence of qualified privilege failed. . .
CitedMersey Care NHS Trust v Ackroyd CA 21-Feb-2007
The defendant journalist had published confidential material obtained from the claimant’s secure hospital at Ashworth. The hospital now appealed against the refusal of an order for him to to disclose his source.
Held: The appeal failed. Given . .
CitedRoberts 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 . .
CitedMalik v Newspost Ltd and others QBD 20-Dec-2007
The claimant, a politician, sought damages after another local politician accused him of using physical intimidation at elections. The defendant claimed a Reynolds privilege.
Held: This was not investigative journalism, and ‘There is no doubt . .
CitedBritish Broadcasting Corporation v CAFCASS Legal and others FD 30-Mar-2007
Parents of a child had resisted care proceedings, and now wished the BBC to be able to make a TV programme about their case. They applied to the court for the judgment to be released. Applications were also made to have a police officer’s and . .
DoiubtedFlood v Times Newspapers Ltd CA 13-Jul-2010
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. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 04 July 2022; Ref: scu.237908