Jameel & Another v Times Newspapers Ltd

Reference: [2003] EWHC 2609 (QB)

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Gray J

Date of judgment: 7 Nov 2003

Summary: Defamation - Libel - Meaning of words complained of - Whether article capable of being defamatory of corporate claimant - Justification - Summary judgment

Appearances: Justin Rushbrooke QC (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Peter Carter-Ruck & Partners for the Claimant

Facts

The Claimants sued on an article published in the Sunday Times under the headline “Car Tycoon ‘linked’ to Bin Laden” which named Yousef Jameel and discussed his involvement and that of his family in owning and running Hartwell plc. The Defendant contended that the article was incapable of bearing the meanings attributed to it, that it was incontrovertibly true in the only defamatory meaning which it was capable of bearing of the first Claimant, and that it was incapable of defaming the company. It applied for summary judgment accordingly.

Issue

(1) whether the article was capable of bearing the first claimant’s meaning or only a lesser meaning of ‘sufficient grounds to enquire etc.’;
(2) whether, on the evidence before the Court, the article was true in that lesser meaning such that a jury would be perverse to reject the Defendant’s plea of justification;
(3) whether the article was capable of bearing the company’s meaning, or any meaning defamatory of it.

Held

(1) the article was incapable of bearing the first Claimant’s higher meaning;
(2) nevertheless, a jury would not be perverse to reject the plea of justification, so the Defendant’s summary judgment application failed;
(3) the article was incapable of bearing the company’s meanings or any meaning defamatory of it: the references to that company were simply telling readers of the connection between the first Claimant and the UK. Accordingly the company’s claim was struck out.

Comment

The Court of Appeal has now handed down judgment. See the case summary and comment on the website.