First jury libel trial for 3 years

Jury awards libel damages to Luke Cooper

In the first libel jury trial for nearly 3 years, graduate student and university tutor Luke Cooper won damages of £35,000 against the Evening Standard and £25,000 against the Daily Mail.

The cases concerned articles published in the two newspapers about the student demonstration against tuition fees in November 2010, which culminated in a violent protest and occupation at 30 Millbank, the Conservative Party’s headquarters. The claimant complained that the articles implicated in him being a ringleader of the riot.

The newspapers, represented by 5RB’s Adrienne Page QC and Yuli Takatsuki, instructed by RPC, advanced defences of justification. Based on the testimony of a journalist who spoke to Mr Cooper on the afternoon in question, the newspapers contended that Mr Cooper had admitted involvement as a ringleader and that he was an advocate of mass militant direct action, indifferent to whether such action involved violent clashes with the police or property damage.

Mr Cooper disputed the journalist’s account and, after a trial lasting 5 days, the jury returned verdicts for Mr Cooper. Mr. Justice Eady, who presided over the trial, accepted undertakings from the Defendants not to republish and awarded the Claimant his costs.