Full case report

Ghannouchi v Al Arabiya News Channel FZ-LLC

Reference 08/11/2007
Court Queen's Bench Division

Judge Eady J

Date of Judgment 8 Nov 2007


Summary

Libel – Assessment of damages – Judge alone – Aggravation of damages


Facts

The Defendant, an Arabic language television channel accessible by satellite receivers in the UK, alleged in broadcasts on 8 August 2005 that the Claimant, a Tunisian exile given political asylum in the UK in 1993, was an extremist Islamist figure linked to the terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda who faced deserved expulsion from the UK. There was no attempt to defend the allegations as true or privileged. Judgment in default of Defence had been entered in February 2007.


Issue

What was the appropriate level of damages for the libel?


Held

The Judge awarded the Claimant £165,000 and indemnity costs from the date on which an offer by him to accept £35,000 had expired.


Comment

This case shows that the Court does not shrink from awarding very high damages for the most serious libels. The damage to the Claimant was increased by the fact that he had consistently opposed violence and terrorism throughout his life and aggravated by the Defendant’s conduct in failing to correct the libel for over two years, despite there being no attempt to suggest there was any truth whatsoever in the allegations.


Instructing Solicitors

Carter-Ruck for the Claimant


Links

165k libel payout over TV terror claim - Press Gazette
Damages win for 'al Qaida' Sheikh - Press Association,