Full case report

MacIntyre v Phillips

Reference [2002] EWCA Civ 1087; [2003] EMLR 194
Court Court of Appeal

Judge Brooke & Dyson LJJ & Wall J

Date of Judgment 24 Jul 2002


Defamation – Libel – qualified privilege – similar fact evidence – preliminary issue – rule of practice that qualified privilege be tried first


The Claimant, an undercover TV journalist, sued the Defendant whose police officers had made various allegations concerning the quality of the Claimant’s journalism. The Defendant defended the allegations as true and/or as protected by a Reynolds type qualified privilege.


Whether qualified privilege should be tried as a preliminary issue.


The judge was entitled to hold that qualified privilege was not appropriate for resolution as a preliminary issue in this case.


Despite the observation of the Court of Appeal in Loutchansky v Times Newspapers that privilege will ordinarily be tried as a preliminary issue (without “trudging expensively through the mire of justification”), this has in fact happened only once.

Instructing Solicitors

Goodman Derrick for the Claimant


BBC's MacIntyre to sue police force - The Guardian
Reporter sues police for libel - BBC
Vindication for BBC man - The Guardian