The Claimant was the former Treasurer of the Conservative Party. On 15 March 2012 he had been made the subject of subterfuge and covert recording by the First and Second Defendants (members of the Insight team of theSunday Times) who posed as potential donors to the Conservative Party.
The Claimant sued on the articles published on 25 March 2012 by the Defendants. He brought claims for libel and malicious falsehood.
In relation to the libel claim, the Defendants relied on a defence of justification contending that the articles were true in lower meanings. In the alternative, the Defendants contended that the words complained were true in substantially one of the meanings complained of by the Claimant.
In relation to the malicious falsehood claim, the Defendants denied malice, relied upon their justification defence to rebut falsity and contended that the publication was not likely to cause the Claimant pecuniary damage within s.3 Defamation Act 1952.
On 5 June 2013 the trial Judge, Mr Justice Tugendhat, made rulings as to the meanings of the Articles complained of both for the purposes of the Claimant’s claim in libel and malicious falsehood. In consequence he entered judgment for the Claimant on his libel claim and ordered damages to be assessed and an injunction to prevent further publication of the Articles.
On 21 June 2013, the Court of Appeal reversed the Judge in relation to one finding as to the single meaning for the purposes of defamation and also restored the Defendants’ defence of justification ordering that this should be tried. On the same day as the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment, the Defendants’ solicitors wrote to the Trial Judge to ask him to consider recusing himself on the grounds of apparent bias.