(1) Allegations of being a “low value for money” MP and embarassment at the £5 claim were unarguably comments not statements of fact.
(2) Allegations that C thought the expenses claim appropriate, set out to exploit the system, or abused the system were arguably fact or comment, to be determined at trial.
(3) The omission of facts from the articles that C had told the journalist he was precluded from certain votes driving down his attendance figures and that considered the expenses claim inappropriate did not lead to the conclusion that underlying facts were not truly stated, but might go to honest belief.
(1) Evidential conflicts prevented the Court from resolving the issues on a Part 24 application.
(1) It could not be said that C had no real prospect of defeating the defence of Reynolds privilege: the belief of the journalist, whether the defence protects comment pieces and the sufficiency of the opportunity to comment all needed to be resolved.
Mode of trial:
(1) Outside the 28 day window under CPR 26.11 for making an application for trial with a jury, the Court will exercise its discretion to order trial by jury, taking into account a wide number of case management factors, from a starting presumption of trial without jury. The wishes of the parties are one factor. Other factors are (1) cases involving figures from public life, (2) the advantages of reasoned judgment and (3) cases involving issues of honesty and integrity (4) the involvement of the state as a defendant.
(2) The facts of the case favoured trial by judge alone. C was no longer a public figure and the underlying matter not one of great national interest.