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


Instructing Solicitors: Ralph Davis for the Claimant


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.


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


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.


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.