Daily Telegraph appeals against libel award to MP
The Daily Telegraph‘s appeal against an award of £150,000 libel damages began in the Court of Appeal today.
The newspaper, contended that the original decision of Mr Justice Eady in the High Court in December 2004 was wrong because it confused and misapplied the defences of Reynolds privilege and fair comment.
Mr Galloway had been awarded substantial libel damages over articles, published in April 2003, which revealed the contents of certain documents in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. The newspaper had published the documents, which purported to show that Mr Galloway had received over US$300,000 from the former Iraqi regime, over a number of days together with strong comment on what the newspaper believed the documents showed.
Opening the appeal, James Price QC, told the Court (Sir Anthony Clarke MR, Chadwick & Laws LJJ) that the newspaper’s decision to publish documents was in the public interest and should be protected by Reynolds privilege and the newspaper’s views on those documents was protected by the defence of fair comment.
“What is true and established is that the documents which we found are genuine Iraqi Government documents found in closed files on government property. That makes them a matter of public interest,” Mr Price said.
Responding on the second day of the appeal, Richard Rampton QC for Mr Galloway told the Court that the newspaper had lost the protection of privilege because it had adopted the allegations made in the documents as true.
The coverage, he said, left the reader “in no doubt whatsoever that Mr Galloway had money for himself and he spent it, or rather some of it, on buying a couple of jazzy houses and some luxurious cars. That’s not privileged. That’s not what the documents say.”
Mr Galloway – who has always denied the allegations that he had taken any money from the former Iraqi regime – was elected as MP for Bow in the General Election in May 2005. He was not present in Court for the appeal.
- Galloway decision a ‘misunderstanding’ – The Guardian
- Telegraph fights Galloway payout – BBC News
- Galloway judgment ‘fundamentally flawed’ – Daily Telegraph
- Galloway v Telegraph case back in Court – The Guardian
- Telegraph ‘irresponsible’ over Galloway, court told – Media Guardian
- Telegraph ‘forfeits right to protection’ – Daily Telegraph