Daily Mirror awarded costs of dropped malice allegations
Hypnotist Paul McKenna today lost his bid for indemnity costs in his libel action against the Daily Mirror over false allegations that he had obtained a PhD from an “obscure degrees-by-post establishment in Louisiana” in an article by Victor Lewis-Smith.
Almost a year since Mr Justice Eady rejected the newspaper’s defence of justification, Mr McKenna returned to court seeking indemnity costs on the grounds that he had beaten an offer he had made to the Daily Mirror to settle the case earlier in the proceedings.
Assessment of Mr McKenna’s libel damages had been adjourned by the Court in July 2006 following the ruling on liability. Mr McKenna had made a Part 36 offer of £5,000 which was exceeded when damages were eventually agreed between the parties at £25,000 in December 2006.
However, in a ruling today, Mr Justice Eady refused to order indemnity costs and docked 15% off Mr McKenna’s legal bill because of Mr McKenna’s confusing explanations as to what he had done. The Judge also awarded the Daily Mirror its costs of defending Mr McKenna’s claim that the newspaper and columnist Victor Lewis-Smith had published the article maliciously, a claim later dropped by Mr McKenna in November 2006.
In a ruling recognising the seriousness with which the Court views allegations of malice, the Judge said such allegations were sometimes made for tactical reasons and, if those tactics failed, it would be likely that cost consequences would follow.
A full 5RB case report will be available shortly.
5RB‘s Desmond Browne QC (instructed by Swan Turton) appeared for Mr McKenna and Adrienne Page QC (instructed by Davenport Lyons) appeared for MGN Ltd, publishers of the Daily Mirror.