1. D was a publisher of the newsletters:
HHJ Keyser QC was, if necessary, prepared to hold that the Promotion Statement was itself a sufficient assumption of responsibility , but in any event D was branch Chairman of the party on whose behalf the leaflets were written and had been fully involved in the branch’s activities and played an active part of the approval process by confirming approval.
2. (a) The words complained of in Issue 6 were defamatory of C:
The Judge analysed each allegation in detail from -. Although his findings were fact specific, the Judge made the following general observations:
(i) The natural and ordinary meaning of the words complained of was an imputation of hypocrisy on C’s behalf.
(ii) There was, however, no imputation of fact to the effect that C had committed any wrongful act. For instance, the Judge regarded the use of the word “jollies” as a pejorative expression.
(iii) The various criticisms and pejorative expressions used to describe C throughout Issue 6 constituted comment.
(iv) Expressing criticism of someone was not in itself defamatory. The accusations of hypocrisy, however, were clearly defamatory of C.
(b) The picture and accompanying words were not defamatory.
It was necessary to consider what features of Del Trotter were being used for comparison with C.
The Judge found that the meaning of the picture was that:
i) C was a money-loving and money-seeking entrepreneur. This may be a criticism, but it was not defamatory.
ii) C had received “free child care”. This was an imputation of fact and was not defamatory.
iii) By virtue of context, (i) and (ii) carried with them an implicit accusation of hypocrisy. This was a defamatory comment.
iv) C was prone to unrealistic fantasies and improbable business ideas. This was undoubtedly a criticism, but it was not defamatory. Allegations of lack of realism and lack of judgment were the stuff of political disagreement.
The picture and the words, therefore, were not properly taken to mean that C was dishonest.
(c) The words complained of in Issue 7 were not defamatory of C.
The judge agreed that the passage stating that nearly every member of the local PACT Panel was a Plaid Cymru member or supporter was an imputation of fact but that it was not defamatory as it contained no allegation of manipulation or any other improper conduct.
When read as a whole, the passage was highly critical but did not suggest that what was happening was improper. It was within the bounds of robust political criticism.