Full case report

Fallon v MGN Ltd

Reference [2005] EWHC 1572 (QB)
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Eady J

Date of Judgment 10 Feb 2005


Summary

Libel – Stay of Proceedings – Criminal Inquiry


Facts

Fallon was arrested in September 2004 over race-fixing allegations, but not charged. The Racing Post published an article about the subject-matter of the police investigation a few days after his arrest. Fallon sued for libel. The Racing Post sought a stay of the proceedings pending the outcome of the police inquiry.


Issue

The issue was whether the libel proceedings should be stayed until the oucome of the police inquiry was known.


Held

It was not just to stay the proceedings. Fallon had not been charged, and the police inquiry was of uncertain duration. The mere possibility that he might be charged in the future had to be balanced against the certainty of the libel proceedings.


Comment

In Grobbelaar v News Group [2002] UKHL 40 the claimant agreed to stay his libel action pending the outcome of related criminal proceedings. But, as Eady J accepted, a crucial distinction was that at the time of the agreement Grobbelaar had been charged (unlike Fallon) with taking money to fix matches, and the newspaper had already pleaded a defence of justification to the same effect. It is difficult to persuade the Court to grant a stay of defamation proceedings and inchoate criminal charges would appear to be insufficient.


Instructing Solicitors

Ralph Davis for the Claimant