Nicol J applied the familiar principles for the ascertainment of meaning as set out in Jeynes v News Magazines Ltd  EWCA Civ 130.
The Claimant’s views were described as being “contrary to British values”; however, on reading the press release as a whole, a reader would understand that he was also being characterised as a hate speaker and extremist . The reasonable reader would also infer that the Claimant was one of those who had promoted the ideas described as ‘poisonous and pernicious’ .
Fact or opinion?
The term “on the record” was a reference to the Claimant’s publicly stated views . Applying Keays v Guardian Newspapers Ltd  EWHC 1565 (QB), this was a factor which “may tend to weigh in favour of the words being regarded as comment” .
In the view of Nicol J, the conclusion that the words complained of were opinion was even clearer in the case of the wider meaning which the Claimant contended the words complained of bore. “[W]hether someone is a ’hate speaker’, an extremist, or someone from whose ideas students need protection are all necessarily matters of opinion” . Accordingly, Nicol J found that the Press Release was commenting or expressing an opinion on the Claimant’s views and the requirement under section 3(2) of the 2013 Act was satisfied.
Indication of the basis of the opinion:
It was clear that the basis of the opinion was the Claimant’s publicly expressed views on social, religious, political or moral issues . The reference to the Claimant’s publicly available views was brief, but “it was not necessary… for the press release to say one or more of what the views of the Claimant were which were being criticised, which British values were transgressed, where the record was or what the record was” . Applying the approach taken by the Supreme Court in Joseph v Spiller  1 AC 852, Nicol J concluded that the Press Release satisfied the requirement, under section 3(3) of the 2013 Act, that the statement must indicate, in general or specific terms, the basis of the opinion.