C is the General Secretary of the RMT Union, D the Mayor of London, who was standing for re-election in May 2012 against former Mayor Ken Livingstone. It was not disputed that the RMT had called around 20 transport strikes since 2002.
C was mentioned in D’s campaign leaflets, which stated: “Not Again: Ken wants to come back with his … Council Tax rises, Broken promises, cronies, scandals, waste Bob Crow. NotKenAgain.com”
C sued in defamation, claiming the words complained of meant:
1. C’s policies, leadership of the RMT and association with Mr Livingstone: (a) seriously damages his electoral prospects and (b) has caused and will cause grave harm to the interests of Londoners.
2. C was part of and supported a culture of political immorality involving broken promises, cronyism, scandals and waste.
3. C was part of a corrupt, scandalous, unaccountable and wasteful group of cronies.
D applied to strike out the claim on the basis that the words bore no meaning defamatory of C, or at least none sufficiently serious to constitute a real and substantial tort.