High speed trial for former rail union chief

Jury awards £30,000 libel damages

A jury has awarded £30,000 to the former chief of rail union ASLEF in respect of allegations published in Loco Journal in July 2006.

Shaun Brady, who had previously brought a successful claim for unfair dismissal against his former employer, brought the libel action against the editor of Loco Journal following publication of an article which he claimed alleged that he had been legitimately excluded from the membership of ASLEF for bringing the Union into disrepute.

The editor, Keith Norman, who is the general secretary of ASLEF, accepted the words were not true, but claimed that the article was not defamatory.

Deputy Judge Richard Parkes QC ruled that publication to all but 131 of Loco Journal’s 18,000 readers was protected by qualified privilege. The jury, who were sworn in on Monday but heard the entire trial on Tuesday, were told that Mr Brady had been very upset by the article although there was no evidence that it had affected his business or social life.

Following the jury’s unaminous verdict Mr Brady, now the acting general secretary of the Associated Train Crew Union, said: “I’m really pleased about the decision – I feel vindicated.” The parties agreed to a stay on the payment of the award above £15,000 pending any appeal.