Words which were broadcast were capable of meaning that the Plaintiff’s behaviour had contributed to deaths. She was a campaigner against the giving of contraceptive advice to young girls.
Held: The statement was defamatory. The full test was: ‘(1) The court should give to the material complained of the natural and ordinary meaning which it would have conveyed to the ordinary reasonable viewer watching the programme once. (2) The hypothetical reader (or viewer) is not naive but he is not unduly suspicious. He can read between the lines. He can read in an implication more readily than a lawyer and may indulge in a certain amount of loose thinking. But he must be treated as being a man who is not avid for scandal and someone who does not, and should not, select one bad meaning where other non-defamatory meanings are available. (3) While limiting its attention to what the defendant has actually said or written the court should be cautious of an over-elaborate analysis of the material in question. (4) A television audience would not give the programme the analytical attention of a lawyer to the meaning of a document, an auditor to the interpretation of accounts, or an academic to the content of a learned article. (5) In deciding what impression the material complained of would have been likely to have on the hypothetical reasonable viewer the court are entitled (if not bound) to have regard to the impression it made on them. (6) The court should not be too literal in its approach.’
Neill LJ: ‘It will be for the jury to decide what the words complained of actually meant in their context. At this stage I am satisfied that within the spectrum of meanings of which the words were reasonably capable is the meaning that Mrs Gillick was in some sense to blame for the girls’ deaths and therefore morally responsible to a culpable degree.’
Times 20-Oct-1995, Independent 19-Oct-1995,  EMLR 267,  EWCA Civ 46
England and Wales
Cited – Geenty v Channel Four Television Corporation and Jessel CA 13-Jan-1998
The claimant police officer appealed against dismissal of his claim in defamation.
Held: The words were capable of implicating the plaintiff in the neglect, they were also capable of implicating him in the accusation of maltreatment. The claim . .
Cited – Jameel and Another v Times Newspapers Limited CA 21-Jul-2004
The defendant had published a newspaper article linking the claimant to terrorist activity. The defendants argued that no full accusation was made, but only that the claimant was under investigation for such behaviour, and that the article had . .
Cited – Gillick v Brook Advisory Centres and Another CA 23-Jul-2001
The claimant appealed after closing her action for an alleged defamation by the respondents in a leaflet published by them. She challenged an interim decision by the judge as to the meaning of the words complained of.
Held: The leaflet made . .
Cited – Armstrong v Times Newspapers Ltd QBD 30-Jun-2006
The claimant, a professional cyclist, sought damages in defamation, saying that the defendant newspaper had implied that he had taken performance enhancing drugs. The case was to be heard by judge alone. The court considered how to deal with the . .
Cited – Associated Newspapers Ltd v Burstein CA 22-Jun-2007
The newspaper appealed an award of damages for defamation after its theatre critic’s review of an opera written by the claimant. The author said the article made him appear to sympathise with terrorism.
Held: The appeal succeeded. Keene LJ . .
Cited – Budu v The British Broadcasting Corporation QBD 23-Mar-2010
The defendant sought to strike out the claimant’s action in defamation. It had reported that the police had withdrawn an employment offer to claimant after doubting his immigration status.
Held: The claims should be struck out. The articles . .
Cited – Thornton v Telegraph Media Group Ltd QBD 16-Jun-2010
The claimant said that a review of her book was defamatory and a malicious falsehood. The defendant now sought summary judgment or a ruling as to the meaning of the words complained of.
Held: The application for summary judgment succeeded. The . .
Cited – Horlick v Associated Newspapers Ltd QBD 24-Jun-2010
The court was asked for preliminary rulings as to meanings in a defamation action. She complained of articles regarding the failure of a business enterprise.
Held: The court’s task is well settled: ‘The judge should give the relevant article . .
Cited – Wright v Gregson and Others QBD 1-Jul-2010
The defendant denied that the words complained of were bore the defamatory meaning alleged, and asked the court to rule accordingly and to strike out he claim. He complained of comments about his intentions for the use of money raised for charitable . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.80835