C, the Labour MP for Leeds East and Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Lord Chancellor, sought damages and an injunction for libel, malicious falsehood and/or breach of statutory duty under the Data Protection Act 1998 (‘DPA’) in respect of an online news article published by NGN (D1) written by The Sun’s political editor, Thomas Newton Dunn (D2), entitled “REICH AND ROLL: Labour’s justice boss ridiculed after he joins a heavy metal band that delights in Nazi symbols”.
The article said that C should not have joined the band because it had published a picture consisting of an image below a hashtag “#blacksabbath”, posted on its Twitter and Facebook accounts (the latter without the hashtag) which The Sun claimed was “Nazi associated iconography”, resemblant of the Nazi Schutzstaffel or ‘SS’ symbol.
C alleged that the natural and ordinary meaning of the article or, alternatively, by way of innuendo, meant in fact that “C has joined, and thereby willingly associated itself with, a heavy metal band that he knows delights in using Nazi symbols and iconography; and, therefore, is actively sympathetic to Nazi beliefs and ideology, alternatively, there are reasonable grounds to so suspect”.
The Ds contended that the article meant that “C had demonstrated terrible misjudgement and exposed himself to ridicule by associating himself with a band which, as he knew, uses Nazi associated iconography in its promotional material” and sought to defend the claim relying upon the defences of truth, honest opinion and public interest pursuant to sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Defamation Act 2013, respectively.
The Ds also denied malicious falsehood and breach of the DPA.