Ghannouchi v Al Arabiya News Channel FZ-LLC
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Eady J
Date of judgment: 8 Nov 2007
Summary: Libel - Assessment of damages - Judge alone - Aggravation of damages
Jacob Dean (Claimant)
Instructing Solicitors: Carter-Ruck for the Claimant
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.
What was the appropriate level of damages for the libel?
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.
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.