The libel claim brought against the Italian publisher of daily newspaper La Repubblica and weekly magazine L’Espresso will proceed to trial, after it successfully resisted an application to strike out its defence of truth.
The Claimant businessman is an Italian national with acquired British citizenship. He has brought proceedings against Gedi Gruppo Editoriale SpA over four articles and two videos which identify him online as one of the individuals involved in a scandal concerning the alleged misuse of Vatican funds invested in London real estate.
Griffiths J determined the meanings of the publications in a judgment handed down in December 2022. He found that they contained allegations against the Claimant of varying Chase Level 2 levels. The Defendant subsequently filed a Defence, denying serious harm and relying on the truth defence at Defamation Act 2013, s.2. The Claimant applied to strike out the truth defence, contending among other matters that it failed to plead a sufficiently clear and coherent case against him, and impermissibly speculated as to the factual position in support of the defence.
Murray J heard submissions from the parties on 9 November. In a judgment handed down this morning, the Judge dismissed the application. He was “not persuaded that [it] passe[d] the high hurdle that needs to be surmounted in order to justify striking out under CPR r 3.4(2) Gedi Gruppo’s defence of truth, particularly bearing in mind that this is a ‘grounds to suspect’ case”. The Judge found that the Defendant had in fact pleaded its defence of truth “with sufficient particularity such that it [did] disclose reasonable grounds for defending the claim”, and that its particulars of truth were “capable of proving the substantial truth of the defamatory imputations”.