Armstrong wins latest Times battle

Court of Appeal rejects newspaper's bid to have meaning decided by jury

World Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong has won the latest round of his battle with The Sunday Times over allegations that he had used performance enhancing drugs in his cycling career. The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal against an order made by the High Court that the issue of the meaning of the article should be determined as a preliminary issue tried by judge alone.


Mr Justice Eady had last December ordered that the meaning of the article – L.A. Confidential, published by The Sunday Times in June 2004 – should be tried as a preliminary issue by judge alone. Although the newspaper had conceded that all other issues in the case should be tried by the Judge, it had sought an order that meaning should be tried by a Jury.


Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice May held that the Defendants had failed to show that Eady J had erred and upheld his conclusion that there were “significant difficulties in having meaning determined by one tribunal and the rest of the action by another.”


The case will now continue in the High Court with the meaning of the article to be determined by a Judge. The Defendants have maintained that the article did not allege that Armstrong, seven-times winner of the Tour de France, was guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs, but merely that there were grounds to suspect that he had. In this lesser meaning, the Defendants assert that the article was true. They also claim that the article is protected by Reynolds qualified privilege.


5RB‘s Matthew Nicklin (instructed by Schillings) was junior counsel for Mr Armstrong.


Click here for the 5RB case report and full judgment.