Milne v Express Newspapers (No.2)

Reference: [2003] EWHC 1843 (QB)

Court: Queen's Bench Division

Judge: Eady J

Date of judgment: 10 Jul 2003

Summary: Defamation - Libel - offer of amends - rejection of offer of amends - the correct test under s4(3) Defamation Act 1996


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 another 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.


Application to strike out the Claimant’s plea further to s.4(3) Defamation Act 1996.


The plea was struck out. It was not sufficient to allege that the journalist suspected the words complained of were true; he must have known it to be false or been reckless indifferent as to its truth or falsity for the s.4(3) test to be passed.


The Court of Appeal upheld Eady J’s approach. See [2004] EWCA Civ 664