Milne v Express Newspapers (CA)

Reference: [2004] EWCA Civ 664; [2005] 1 WLR 772; [2005] 1 All ER 1021; [2004] EMLR 461

Court: Court of Appeal

Judge: May, Tuckey & Laws LJJ

Date of judgment: 27 May 2004

Summary: Defamation - Libel- Offer of Amends - s.4(3) Defamation Act 1996 - "knew or had reason to believe"

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Instructing Solicitors: Andrew Milne & Co for the Claimant


The Claimant, a solicitor, reported Keith Vaz MP to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for not declaring payments made to him by a solicitor, Sarosh Zaiwalla, when twice recommending him for an honour. Following a finding by the relevant Parliamentary Committee upholding the Claimant’s complaint, the Sunday Express published an article quoting Mr Zaiwalla. The agreed meaning of the article was that the Claimant was reasonably suspected of giving false evidence to the Parliamentary Commissioner. The Defendant made an offer of amends which the Claimant rejected.


Appeal against the first instance judge’s interpretation of s.4(3) Defamation Act 1996 re the relevant state of knowledge of a journalist such as to entitle a claimant to reject an offer of amends. The judge held that the journalist had to have been malicious, in the sense he was recklessly indifferent to the truth, at the time of publication.


First instance decision upheld.


This will make it practically impossible for the majority of claimants to reject an offer of amends where it has been made by a media defendant. Claimants are unlikely to have any knowledge of how the defamatory article came to be published and therefore will not be able to risk guessing as to whether the journalist concerned had been recklessly indifferent to the truth of the allegation made.