Lewis v Commissioner of Police of The Metropolis and Others (Rev 1): QBD 31 Mar 2011

The defendant sought a ruling on the meaning of the words but using section 69(4) of the 1981 Act. The claimant solicitor was acting in complaints as to the unlawful interception of celebrity voicemails by agents of the press. There had been debate as to how many phones had been hacked, and the findings by the police. The claimant had given evidence to a parliamentary committee and said that he had been told by an officer that 6,000 phones were involved. The defendant wrote to the PCC to say that the officer had been wrongly quoted. The claimant said that this meant that he had lied.
Held: As to mode of trial: ‘The effect of s.69(3) is that the discretion is now very rarely exercised in favour of ordering trial by jury’, and given the particlar circumstances of this case, that decision would be deferred.
As to the request for the court to decide the meaning under section 69, this was both novel and tempting, but ‘meaning is a central issue in most libel actions, and it is a central issue in this action (that is why so many case management benefits could accrue from an early decision). If the court were to decide, when the time for that decision arises, that in principle this is a case for trial with a jury, because the MPS is the defendant, then I think that the same reasoning would probably apply to the decision whether meaning should be tried with a jury. While in logic there is no inconsistency, in practice it would be difficult to reconcile the decision to try the issue of meaning with a judge alone, and other issues in this case with a jury. Moreover, a decision now to try the issue of meaning with a judge alone would itself materially influence any future decision as to whether other issues should be tried with a judge alone or with a jury.’ That decision should also be deferred.
The claimant also sought leave to bring evidence as to the meaning to be attributed. The addresee had said the email suggested that the parliementary committee had been misled by the claimant. That evidence would affect damages in due course if applicable, but should also be admitted as to the meaning.

Tugendhat J
[2011] EWHC 781 (QB)
Senior Courts Act 1981 69(4)
England and Wales
CitedPaul and others v Deputy Coroner of the Queen’s Household and Another Admn 2-Mar-2007
The applicants sought judicial review of preliminary directions given for the intended inquest on the deaths of Diana Princess of Wales and of Dodi Al Fayed. It was submitted that the jurisdiction had been wrongly transferred to the Queen’s Coroner . .
AppliedCook v Telegraph Media Group Ltd QBD 29-Mar-2011
The claimant, an MP, complained in defamation of the defendant’s description of his rejected expenses claim regarding an assistant’s charitable donation. The paper pleaded a Reynolds defence. The claimant said that when published the defendant knew . .
CitedGarbett v Hazel Watson and Viney CA 1943
The defendants had published in a magazine a picture of the plaintiff carrying on his business as an out door photographer, and talking to a lady. On the opposite page they published a picture of a naked woman. The caption running under both . .
CitedBaturina v Times Newspapers Ltd CA 23-Mar-2011
The claimant appealed against directions given in her defamation action against the defendant. It had been said that she owned a house, and the defendant said that this was not defamatory. The claimant said that as the wife of the Mayor of Moscow . .
CitedJeynes v News Magazines Ltd and Another CA 31-Jan-2008
Whether Statement defamatory at common law
The claimant appealed against a striking out of her claim for defamation on finding that the words did not have the defamatory meaning complained of, namely that she was transgendered or transsexual.
Held: The appeal failed.
Sir Anthony . .
CitedBerezovsky and Glouchkov v Forbes Inc and Michaels CA 31-Jul-2001
The claimant sought damages from the defendant for a magazine article claiming that he was involved in organised crime in Russia. The defendants appealed against the striking out of elements of the defence suggesting lesser meanings. Was meaning a . .
CitedCharleston and Another v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Another HL 31-Mar-1995
The plaintiffs were actors playing Harold and Madge Bishop in the Australian soap series ‘Neighbours’. They sued on a tabloid newspaper article which showed their faces superimposed on the near-naked bodies of models apparently engaged in sexual . .
CitedHayward v Thompson CA 1981
A later publication by the same defendant can be used to identify the plaintiff in an earlier publication. If the defendant did intend to refer to the plaintiff, it may be enough if the recipient understood it as referring to the plaintiff . .
CitedTelnikoff v Matusevitch CA 1991
The court considered the element of malice in a defamation defence: ‘If a piece of evidence is equally consistent with malice and the absence of malice, it cannot as a matter of law provide evidence on which the jury could find malice. The judge . .
CitedClift v Slough Borough Council CA 21-Dec-2010
The court was asked how, if at all, the Human Rights Act 1998 has affected a local authority’s defence of qualified privilege in defamation cases. The claimant had been placed on the Council’s Violent Persons Register after becoming very upset and . .
CitedMcManus and others v Beckham CA 4-Jul-2002
The claimant sought damages from the defendant who was a pop star, and had vociferously, publicly, and wrongly accused the claimant of selling pictures with fake autographs of her husband. The defendant obtained an order striking out the claim on . .
CitedHays Plc v Hartley QBD 17-May-2010
Mr Hartley operated a news agency, and provided to the publisher of the Sunday Mirror, MGN Ltd, allegations of racism that had been levelled at the claimant company by former employees. The allegations were reported in an article headed ”KKK . .
CitedKearns and Others v The General Council of the Bar CA 17-Mar-2003
The claimants had sought to recover from the General Council of the Bar damages for libel in a communication from the head of the Bar Council’s Professional Standards and Legal Services Department to all heads of chambers, their senior clerks and . .
CitedCollins Stewart Ltd and Another v The Financial Times Ltd QBD 25-Feb-2005
The court considered whether damages in a defamation action pursued in respect of one publication were to be increased by subsequent publications not themselves the subject of a claim. . .
CitedDow Jones and Co Inc v Jameel CA 3-Feb-2005
Presumption of Damage in Defamation is rebuttable
The defendant complained that the presumption in English law that the victim of a libel had suffered damage was incompatible with his right to a fair trial. They said the statements complained of were repetitions of statements made by US . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 12 January 2022; Ref: scu.431655