May 18, 2017
Sex Offender Fails in Defamation Claim
5RB's Christina Michalos for successful defendant
Express Newspapers and Associated Newspapers have succeeded in obtaining summary judgment against a Claimant with a previous conviction for a sexual offence on the basis of lack of serious harm to reputation.
Both publishers had in error used a photograph of the Claimant, Bilal Ahmed, to illustrate separate website articles about the conviction of 3 men at Manchester Crown Court on 29th January 2016 for a sexually assault on a teenage girl. One of the men convicted was also called Bilal Ahmed but was not the Claimant. The photographs had been removed immediately once the error was discovered; both publications had apologised.
The Claimant issued a defamation claim asserting the publications had caused him serious harm.
However, the Claimant had in fact been found guilty by a jury of sexual assault by penetration on a pregnant 17 year old girl in 2014. He was sentenced to 3 1/2 years imprisonment. The conviction was widely reported including by the BBC: see Three guilty in Oxford teen sex attack case BBC 4 June 2014. The Claimant and his co-defendants had been described by the CPS as “nothing less than vicious sexual predators”.
On 17th May 2017, both of the media defendants succeeded in obtaining summary judgment against the Claimant in front of Sir Michael Tugendhat sitting as High Court Judge.
5RB’s Christina Michalos appeared for the First Defendant Express Newspapers instructed by their in-house legal department.
A 5RB case report can be found here.