Skuse v Granada Television: CA 30 Mar 1993

The claimant complained that the defendant had said in a television programme that he had failed to act properly when presenting his expert forensic evidence in court in the trial of the Birmingham Six.
Held: The court should give to the material complained of the natural and ordinary meaning which it would have conveyed to the ordinary reasonable viewer, and assume that that hypothetical reasonable viewer is not unduly naive, nor unduly suspicious, but can read between the lines and read in an implication more readily than a lawyer; that he may indulge in a certain amount of loose thinking, but that he must be treated as being a man who is not avid for scandal and someone who would not select one bad meaning when other non-defamatory meanings are available.
Sir Thomas Bingham MR said: ‘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 issue.’ In general ‘A statement should be taken to be defamatory if it would tend to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally or would be likely to affect a person adversely in the estimation of reasonable people generally.’


Sir Thomas Bingham MR, Beldam LJ, Kennedy LJ


Independent 02-Apr-1993, [1996] EMLR 278, [1993] EWCA Civ 34




England and Wales


CitedHartt v Newspaper Publishing PLC CA 26-Oct-1989
The possible variety of meanings of the words complained of in a defamation action is already factored into the single meaning rule. Neill LJ said: ‘The court should give to the material complained of the natural and ordinary meaning which it would . .
CitedLewis v Daily Telegraph Ltd HL 1964
Ascertaining Meaning of Words for Defamation
The Daily Telegraph had published an article headed ‘Inquiry on Firm by City Police’ and the Daily Mail had published an article headed ‘Fraud Squad Probe Firm’. The plaintiffs claimed that those articles carried the meaning that they were guilty of . .
CitedSlim v Daily Telegraph Ltd CA 1968
Courts to Settle upon a single meaning if disputed
The ‘single meaning’ rule adopted in the law of defamation is in one sense highly artificial, given the range of meanings the impugned words sometimes bear. The law of defamation ‘has passed beyond redemption by the courts’. Where in a libel action . .
CitedHartt v Newspaper Publishing PLC CA 26-Oct-1989
The possible variety of meanings of the words complained of in a defamation action is already factored into the single meaning rule. Neill LJ said: ‘The court should give to the material complained of the natural and ordinary meaning which it would . .

Cited by:

CitedKeays v Guardian Newspapers Limited, Alton, Sarler QBD 1-Jul-2003
The claimant asserted defamation by the defendant. The parties sought a decision on whether the article at issue was a comment piece, in which case the defendant could plead fair comment, or one asserting fact, in which case that defence would not . .
CitedLoveless v Earl; Capital and Counties (Financial Services) Limited CA 4-Nov-1998
When a defendant claimed qualified privilege and the Plaintiff alleged that the words complained of were issued with malice, the defendant will not prevented from reliance on qualified privilege if it can show that the words have an honestly . .
CitedHinduja and Another v Asia TV Limited CA 25-Nov-1997
The procedure for determining whether words were defamatory was intended to be summary; appeals are to be discouraged. The new rule was intended to lay down a swift and inexpensive procedure in chambers to eliminate meanings which the words are . .
CitedJameel 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 . .
CitedBonnick v Morris, The Gleaner Company Ltd and Allen PC 17-Jun-2002
(Jamaica) The appellant sought damages from the respondent journalists in defamation. They had claimed qualified privilege. The words alleged to be defamatory were ambiguous.
Held: The publishers were protected by Reynolds privilege. The court . .
CitedArmstrong 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 . .
CitedCobbold v London Borough of Greenwich CA 9-Aug-1999
The tenant had sought an order against the council landlord for failure to repair her dwelling. The defendant appealed refusal of leave to amend the pleadings in anticipation of the trial, now due to start on the following day.
Held: Leave was . .
CitedBond v British Broadcasting Corporation QBD 19-Mar-2009
The court set out to establish the natural and ordinary meanings to be attached to the words complained of in a defamation action, and found defamatory meanings under Chase two principles. . .
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 . .
CitedBudu 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 . .
CitedThornton 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 . .
CitedHorlick 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 . .
CitedWright 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 . .
CitedWatkins v Woolas QBD 5-Nov-2010
The petitioner said that in the course of the election campaign, the respondent Labour candidate had used illegal practices in the form of deliberately misleading and racially inflammatory material.
Held: The claim succeeded, and the election . .
CitedModi and Another v Clarke CA 29-Jul-2011
The claimants, organisers of the Indian Premier cricket League, met with organisations in England seeking to establish a similar league in the Northern Hemisphere. A copy of a note came to the defendant, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket . .
CitedAuladin v Shaikh and Others QBD 5-Feb-2013
The court set out to settle the precise defamatory meanings alleged. Trustees of an Education Centre had appointed a relative of three existing trustees to join them. The claimant chairman resigned, objecting to what he said was poor governence. The . .
CitedTesla Motors Ltd and Another v British Broadcasting Corporation QBD 28-Oct-2011
The claimant company manufactured electric cars. They claimed that a review of a car on the defendant’s programme ‘Top Gear’ included malicious falsehoods and was defamatory.
Held: The defamatory meanings claimed could not properly be . .
CitedTesla Motors Ltd and Another v British Broadcasting Corporation QBD 23-Feb-2012
The claimant, manufacturer of electric cars, complained of a review of its car on ‘Top Gear’. It’s pleaded meanings had been rejected, and it now sought leave to amend its pleading to add new alleged defamatory meanings. . .
CitedTesla Motors Ltd and Another v British Broadcasting Corporation CA 5-Mar-2013
The claimant said that the defendant, in its Top Gear programme in a review of its car, caused it damage through malicious falsehood and defamation. They appealed against a finding that the words used were incapable of bearing the defamatory . .
CitedRufus v Elliott QBD 1-Nov-2013
The parties were former footballers involved in charitable works. The claimant said that an allegation by the defendant that he the claimant had released for publication a text message in which the the defendant was said to have used extremely . .
CitedUppal v Endemol UK Ltd and Others QBD 9-Apr-2014
The claimant alleged defamation by other contestants at the time when she was participating in the defendants’ TV show, Big Brother. The defendants had broadcast the material. The defendant now sought a ruling that the words complained of were not . .
CitedHayden v Associated Newspapers Ltd QBD 11-Mar-2020
The claimant alleged defamation by the defendant, and the court now considered the meanings of the words complained of. Another person had been held by police for seven hours after identifying the claimant as a transgendered man.
Held: The . .
CitedStocker v Stocker SC 3-Apr-2019
The parties had been married and divorced. Mrs S told M S’s new partner on Facebook that he had tried to strangle her and made other allegations. Mrs S now appealed from a finding that she had defamed him. Lord Kerr restated the approach to meaning . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 29 January 2022; Ref: scu.89302