Campbell v News Group Newspapers Ltd (No.2)
Reference:  EWCA Civ 1143;  EMLR 43
Court: Court of Appeal
Judge: Schiemann, Mantell & Mance LJJ
Date of judgment: 31 Jul 2002
Summary: Defamation - Libel - quantum - justification - whether judge had misdirected jury - effect of attempt by claimant to pervert the course of justice - appeal allowed and damages reduced from £350,000 to £30,000
Adam Wolanski QC (Defendant)
Instructing Solicitors: News Group Newspapers Legal Department
The claimant brought proceedings for libel against the defendants for alleging in the News of the World that he had (a) sexually abused children whom he had lured into his house; (b) made videos of the abuse and marketed those videos; (c) demanded money for the return of a video in which he was shown discussing children in a sexually perverted manner (the Bober video); (d) admitted watching children through peep-holes in public lavatories; and (e) generally had a perverted interest in children. The jury found for the claimant and awarded £350,000. The defendants appealed on quantum.
Whether judge had misdirected jury; whether the Bober video was genuine;the appropriate level of damages.
(1) The judge misdirected the jury; (2) the Bober video was genuine and had not been doctored as the claimant alleged; (3) the claimant had been involved in the grossest misconduct up to and during the trial, including procuring his son and his son’s partner to make false statements. This reduced the level of damages to which the claimant was entitled.
(4) Had the claimant established his case in full, damages in excess of £133,000 would have been justified; (5) taking into account the fact the Bober video was genuine and the article was therefore partially justified, as well as the claimant’s conduct and the aggravating conduct of the defendant’s journalist, an award of £30,000 was appropriate.
The judgment includes a useful summary of the main authorities on quantum in defamation actions.