Bennett & Another v BBC & Another

Reference: [2003] EWHC 553 (QB)

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Gray J

Date of judgment: 20 Mar 2003

Summary: Defamation - libel - particulars of justification - whether the defendant could justify the common sting of the whole article when the Claimant only complained about parts of it

Appearances: Justin Rushbrooke QC (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Cobbetts for the Claimant; BBC Litigation Department for the Defendants

Facts

The BBC published an article on its website criticising the Claimant’s plan to launch an amateur manned rocket into space. The project was described as suicidal.

Issue

Could the Defendant justify the common sting of the whole article even though the Claimant only complained about parts of it.

Held

The article was not simply a collection of disparate criticisms of the Claimant; it was a comprehensive critique of the whole of his project therefore all of the article, the disparate stings as well as the general sting, could be justified.

Comment

An example of how difficult it can be for claimants to avoid the problem of the defendant being able to justify parts of an article about which he does not complain.