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 nature of the words, but claimed qualified Reynolds privilege. They said that as responsible journalists they had a duty to bring certain stories to the attention of the public, and that such activity should attract a qualified privilege. The court had to ask whether either the ‘duty-interest’ or ‘right to know’ test was satisfied. The journalist had to behave responsibly. If not, then had no duty to publish and the public had no proper interest in reading it. Unless the publisher was acting responsibly privilege could not arise. That test was to be answered by the court not the journalist, and as an issue preliminary to testing the truth or falsity of the allegation.
‘At the end of the day the court has to ask itself the single question whether in all the circumstances the ‘duty-interest test or the right to know test’ has been satisfied so that qualified privilege attaches.’
The court discussed the interest/duty test saying: ‘The interest is that of the public in a modern democracy in free expression and, more particularly, in the promotion of a free and vigorous press to keep the public informed. The vital importance of this interest has been identified and emphasised time and again in recent cases and needs no restatement here. The corresponding duty on the journalist (and equally his editor) is to play his proper role in discharging that function. His task is to behave as a responsible journalist. He can have no duty to publish unless he is acting responsibly any more than the public has an interest in reading whatever may be published irresponsibly. That is why in this class of case the question whether the publisher has behaved responsibly is necessarily and intimately bound up with the question whether the defence of qualified privilege arises. Unless the publisher is acting responsibly privilege cannot arise.’
The second issue related to the continued publication of the editions of the newspapers on the internet. The paper claimed that limitation ran from the date when the issue was put on the net, and the claimant that limitation began anew each time the site was accessed. The rule in Brunswick did not operate to restrict press freedom, and the accessing of the article on the net was a new publication each time a copy was transmitted to a reader. The continued publication of the unqualified article on the internet after complaint had been made and after it was known that no attempt to justify it would be made, properly led to the summary striking out of the defendant’s defence claiming qualified privilege.
Lord Phillips MR, Lord Justice Simon Brown, Lord Justice Tuckey
Times 07-Dec-2001, Gazette 06-Feb-2002,  EWCA Civ 1805,  2 WLR 640,  QB 783,  Masons CLR 35,  EMLR 14,  1 All ER 652
Limitation Act 1980 4A
England and Wales
Applied – 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 . .
Cited – Duke of Brunswick v Harmer QBD 2-Nov-1849
On 19 September 1830 an article was published in the Weekly Dispatch. The limitation period for libel was six years. The article defamed the Duke of Brunswick. Seventeen years after its publication an agent of the Duke purchased a back number . .
Cited – Ogden v Association of the United States Army 1959
(US Supreme Court) . .
See Also – Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Ltd and others CA 23-Jan-2001
The defendants requested that the defamation claim they faced be struck out despite the apparent reasonable possibility of success. . .
See also – Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Limited (No 2) CA 12-Mar-2001
The defendants appealed against a refusal to allow them to amend their pleadings. They wished to include allegations as to matters which were unknown to the journalist at the time of publication.
Held: It is necessary for the defendants to . .
Appeal from – Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Ltd QBD 26-Apr-2001
A defendant could not support a defence in defamation proceedings of qualified privilege by putting before the court matters of which it was unaware at the time of publication. The duty to publish and the interest in receiving the information, and . .
Cited – MacIntyre v Phillips and Others CA 24-Jul-2001
The appellant police officers and others were defendants in an action for defamation. They appealed a refusal of a trial of the preliminary issue as to whether they had the benefit of qualified privilege. They said that recent case law (GKR Karate . .
Cited – George 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 . .
Cited – Dow 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 . .
Cited – Jameel 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 . .
Cited – Armstrong v Times Newspapers Ltd and David Walsh, Alan English CA 29-Jul-2005
The claimant sought damages after publication by the first defendant of articles which it was claimed implied that he had taken drugs. The paper claimed qualified privilege, and claimed Reynolds immunity.
Held: The defence of qualified . .
Cited – 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 – Mardas v New York Times Company and Another QBD 17-Dec-2008
The claimant sought damages in defamation. The US publisher defendants denied that there had been any sufficient publication in the UK and that the court did not have jurisdiction. The claimant appealed the strike out of the claims.
Held: 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 . .
See Also – Loutchansky v Times Newspapers Ltd and others QBD 12-Dec-2002
The court considered the possible affront to jurors in a defamation action when asked to decide some elements of an action, but not others. . .
Cited – Metropolitan International Schools Ltd. (T/A Skillstrain And/Or Train2Game) v Designtechnica Corp (T/A Digital Trends) and Others QBD 16-Jul-2009
The claimant complained that the defendant had published on its internet forums comments by posters which were defamatory of it, and which were then made available by the second defendant search engine. The court was asked what responsibility a . .
Cited – 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 – 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 – Flood 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. . .
Cited – Robins v Kordowski and Another QBD 22-Jul-2011
The claimant solicitor said he had been defamed on the first defendant’s website (‘Solicitors from Hell’) by the second defendant. The first defendant now applied to set aside judgment entered by default. The claimant additionally sought summary . .
Cited – 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 . .
Cited – Brett Wilson Llp v Person(s) Unknown, Responsible for The Operation and Publication of The Website www.solicitorsfromhelluk.com QBD 16-Sep-2015
The claimant solicitors sought remedies against the unknown publishers of the respondent website which was said to publish material defamatory of them, and to ampunt to harassment.
Held: The alleged defamatory meanings were not challenged by . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Defamation, Media, Limitation
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.166964