1. The appropriate standard of proof was the civil standard of the balance of probabilities (see  for the Judge’s reasoning).
2. Whilst freedom of expression was important to everyone, Strasbourg had recognised the particular importance of expression in the political sphere. It had long recognised that what was said by elected politicians was subject to enhanced protection, Castells v Spain (1992) 14 EHRR 445 considered.
A number of principles could be derived from the relevant Strasbourg case law namely (see  of the judgment for the cited authorities):
i) The enhanced protection applied to all levels of politics, including local.
ii) Article 10 protected not only the substance of what was said, but also the form in which it was conveyed. In a political context, the immoderate, offensive, exaggerated and aggressive may be tolerated where it would not otherwise be. Article 10 protected the right to make incorrect but honestly made statements; it did not protect statements which the publisher knew to be false.
iii) Politicians were subject to wider limits of acceptable criticism. They were expected to be more thick-skinned and tolerant to comment than ordinary citizens.
iv) Enhanced protection applies also to those who commented upon politics and politicians, notably the press.
v) Political expression was a broad concept in this context, extending to all matters of public administration and public concern, including the manner of performance of public duties by others.
vi) Comments in the political context were tolerated even if untrue, so long as they had some factual basis. What amounted to a value judgment as opposed to fact would be generously construed in favour of the former.
vii) The State’s margin of appreciation had to be construed narrowly in the context of restrictions on political speech.
Non-elected civil servants acting in an official capacity were, like politicians, subject to the wider limits of acceptable criticism, Janowski v Poland (1999) 29 EHRR 705 and Mamère v France (2009) 49 EHRR 39 considered. The limits, however, were not as wide as for elected politicians, who came to the arena voluntarily and had the right and ability to respond to commentators. It was in the public interest that civil servants were not subjected to unwarranted comments that would disenable them from performing their public duties and undermine public confidence in the administration. It was a legitimate aim of the State to protect public servants from unwarranted comments that had, or could have, adverse effects on good administration.
The tribunal had clearly considered with great care whether what had been said by H to the Council officers had been political expression. Some cases they found to be borderline; but there was no evidence to suggest that, having found those more difficult cases to be ones of political expression, they then gave less than fully enhanced protection to them. The case tribunal had been correct to proceed on the basis that there was a mutual bond of trust and confidence between councillors and their officers and that the comments made by H had the potential of impairing this trust, Ahmed v United Kingdom (2000) 29 EHRR 1 considered. For a consideration of the other issues on appeal see -.
On the facts, interference with H’s article 10 rights was justified. However, a proportionate sanction would be 18 months, and the period of disqualification was so reduced.