March 21, 2007
Formula One libel actions conclude
Woods secures £10,000 under summary disposal and Rubython secures £17,500 following jury trial
The libel litigation between Richard Woods, the Director of Communications at the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (the governing body of world motor sport) and Tom Rubython, editor of Business F1 magazine, finally concluded today.
Woods sued Rubython for allegations of criminal behaviour published in an article entitled the Propagandist in Business F1. Rubython then sued Woods over a biography he published of Rubython on the Wikipedia website and republished by e-mail to a significant number of people within the Formula 1 community.
Among a series of allegations the Wikipedia article stated that during his 25 year career Mr Rubython had surrounded himself with criminals. Mr Rubython complained that these words meant that he had been labelled as having habitually consorted with criminals and was, by inference and association, not far short of a criminal himself.
Woods obtained judgment in the Propagandist action in his favour under the summary disposal regime. Rubython subsequently agreed to pay him £10,000 in damages, the maximum amount allowable under that procedure, and has apologised to him and given an undertaking not to repeat the allegations.
Woods defended the Wikipedia action and advanced a justification defence based, among other things, upon Mr Rubython’s association with a convicted rapist between 1996 and 1999. He also relied upon partial justification in mitigation of damages.
At the conclusion of the trial regarding the Wikipedia action, the jury awarded Rubython £17,500 in damages (Mr Justice Gray the trial judge having set the ceiling at £50,000).