The Claimant, known as a royal commentator, brought libel proceedings in respect of an article published on 19 November 2019 in The Mirror and online titled A glimpse into the sordid world of entitled elite. The article made reference to an interview given by Prince Andrew on Newsnight about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and contained the following words:
“Then, remarkably, Lady Colin Campbell left us all open-mouthed on Monday when she appeared on Breakfast TV to defend Epstein’s right to rape children. “He was procuring 14-year-old prostitutes,” she said. “They were not minors, they were prostitutes, there is a difference.”
Both parties accepted that there was ambiguity in the wording “appeared on Breakfast TV to defend.” because “to defend” could, in this context, either be an infinitive of purposive or an infinitive governed by the verb “appeared“.
On the trial of preliminary issues as to the meaning of the words and whether it contained allegations of fact or opinion, the Claimant submitted the words were factual and meant “the Claimant had appeared on national television for the specific purpose of defending Jeffrey Epstein’s right to rape children and had done so.” The Defendant submitted the words meant “On Monday 18th November 2019 on Breakfast Television, the Claimant appeared to defend Jeffrey Epstein’s right to rape children when she drew a remarkable and untenable distinction between procuring 14 year old prostitutes and procuring minors for sexual intercourse.” or alternatively “During the course of an appearance on Breakfast Television on Monday 18th November 2019, the Claimant seemed to defend Jeffery Epstein’s right to rape children when she drew a remarkable and untenable distinction between procuring 14-year-old prostitutes and procuring minors for sexual intercourse.” The Defendant contended the statement was one of opinion.
There was also an issue as to whether the Court should watch the relevant extract of the Breakfast Television broadcast referred to in relation to issues of general knowledge, possible inneundo (subject to findings on meaning as pleaded) and general case management. The Defendant relied on McAlpine v Bercow  EWHC 1342 (QB) at -:
“ There may be an issue between the parties whether the circumstances of a publication amount to extrinsic facts, which have to be proved as such to support an innuendo, or whether they are general knowledge, which can be relied on in support of its natural and ordinary meaning.”