One election candidate said that another had defamed him in an election leaflet. Additional claims were made in injurious falsehood and under the Data Protection Act.
Held: The claim in defamation failed. There were no special privileges in defamation attaching to election materials. However the claimant had not been able to establish any malice.
The 1998 Act could not be used to establish a set of obligations parallel to the common law ones in defamation. The Act imposed duties of fairness and accuracy in the processing of personal data, and information had been processed in the preparation of the leaflet. However ‘I am by no means persuaded that it is necessary or proportionate to interpret the scope of this statute so as to afford a set of parallel remedies when damaging information has been published about someone, but which is neither defamatory nor malicious. Nothing was cited to support such a far ranging proposition, whether from debate in the legislature or from subsequent judicial dicta.
Still less am I persuaded that it is necessary or proportionate so to interpret it as to give a power to the court to order someone to publish a correction or apology when the person concerned does not believe he has published anything untrue. Such a scheme could surely only work in respect of factual statements which could be demonstrated uncontroversially and objectively to be false. It cannot be intended to compel publication of an account of a factual scenario which is capable of being understood in different ways if, on one interpretation, it might not be accurate.’
Eady J applied the single meaning rule when assessing whether data were inaccurate within the meaning of the Fourth Data Protection Principle.
 EWHC 912 (QB)
Data Protection Act 1998, Defamation Act 1952 3(1)
England and Wales
Cited – Vodafone Group Plc v Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd ChD 1997
The court examined the development of the law in relation to comparative advertising. Jacob J said: ‘Prior to the coming into force of the Trade Marks Act 1994 comparative advertising using a registered trade mark of a competitor was, subject to . .
Cited – GKR Karate (UK) Ltd v Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd (No1) CA 21-Jan-2000
It was arguable that a defendant in defamation proceedings could pray in aid in his claim for qualified privilege circumstances not known to him at the time of the publication: ‘there was a real, if problematic, prospect of success.’
May LJ . .
Cited – British Airways Plc v Ryanair Limited ChD 25-Oct-2000
The claimant alleged that disparaging adverts by the defendant infringed its trade marks and amounted to the tort of malicious falsehood.
Held: There was no dispute that the mark had been used. The Act could not be used to prevent any use of . .
Cited – Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe Sas v Asda Stores Ltd QBD 8-Apr-2009
The claimant alleged malicious falsehood against the defendant, which had advertised a campaign to remove ‘nasties’ from the food it sold, including a component, aspartame, supplied by the claimant. They pointed to its approval by many authorities, . .
Cited – 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 – Roberts v Bass 12-Dec-2002
Austlii (High Court of Australia) Defamation – Defences – Qualified privilege – State election – Publication of electoral material – Reciprocity of interest – Proof of malice – Improper motive – Whether intention . .
Cited – Gillick v Brook Advisory Centres QBD 2002
The claimant asserted that the defendant had defamed her in a leaflet. The defendant asked the court to determine that the pamphlet did not carry a defamatory meaning.
Held: Eady J formulated the principles applicable when determining meaning: . .
Cited – Culnane v Morris and Another QBD 8-Nov-2005
No specific privilege arises from the fact that a statement has been made in the context of an election campaign. . .
Cited – Horrocks 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 . .
Cited – International Businesss Machines Corporation and Another v Web-Sphere Ltd and others ChD 17-Mar-2004
The claimant had registered trade marks under the name websphere, and accused the defendant of infringement using the name with a hyphen.
Held: The claim suceeded. As to the requirement for calculation of damages, ‘the word ‘calculated’ should . .
Cited – Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe Sas v Asda Stores Ltd CA 2-Jun-2010
The claimant sold a sweetener ingredient. The defendant shop advertised its own health foods range with the label ‘no hidden nasties’ and in a situation which, the claimant said, suggested that its ingredient was a ‘nasty’, and it claimed under . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.341878