Six-figure awards set serious libel benchmark

A brace of excessive profile judgments handed down in the identical day by the brand new head of the Excessive Courtroom’s media record have set a benchmark in compensation awards for serious libel. In Jamal Hijazi v Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, The Honourable Mr Justice Nicklin awarded damages of £100,000 to a Syrian-born man defamed by the political activist often known as Tommy Robinson. 

In the meantime, ruling in a case which had proceeded by way of the Supreme Courtroom, Nicklin J. awarded damages totalling £120,000 towards two newspapers over their dealing with of false accusations towards a French citizen residing in Dubai. 

The Yaxley-Lennon case was introduced over two Fb movies made by Yaxley-Lennon, founding father of the English Defence League and described within the judgment as a ‘well-known public determine on the political proper’. The movies alleged {that a} schoolboy who had appeared in a extensively circulated video apparently being bullied ‘violently assaults English women in his college’.

Yaxley-Lennon, who was declared bankrupt earlier this yr and appeared with out illustration, tried to defend the allegations as true. Nonetheless Nicklin J dismissed witness statements on his behalf as falling ‘woefully brief’ of proving the reality. 

Judgment was initially as a result of be handed down on Monday however delayed to yesterday due to what the decide stated have been threats by Yaxley-Lennon to republish his allegations. Nonetheless he counseled Yaxley-Lennon’s conduct in court docket, saying ‘he complied with all of the court docket’s instructions and there have been solely a few cases after I needed to intervene in respect of a number of the questions requested of witnesses’.

In Lachaux v Independent and Evening Standard, Nicklin J. lambasted the conduct of two newspapers who had tried to defend publication of allegations of home abuse with the ‘public curiosity’ defence created by the 2013 Defamation Act. The judgment discovered that neither newspaper had made adequate effort to contact the person on the centre of the allegations. ‘Strikingly, there are not any paperwork that file, and even confer with, the decision-making course of that led to the unique publication of the articles,’ the decide noticed in a comment prone to be carefully scrutinised in newspaper places of work. 

The Lachaux case has already featured in authorized historical past by way of the 2019 Supreme Court judgment regarding the which means of ‘serious hurt’, a threshold for libel actions additionally created by the 2013 act. ‘Mr Lachaux’s title is probably going all the time to be related to the interpretation of s.1 Defamation Act 2013,’ the decide remarked. 

 

In Hijazi v Yaxley-Lennon, Catrin Evans QC and Ian Helme, instructed by Burlington Authorized, appeared for the claimant; the defendant appeared in particular person.

In Lachaux v Unbiased and Night Commonplace, Adrienne Web page QC and Godwin Busuttil, instructed by Taylor Hampton Solicitors, appeared for the claimant; David Value QC and Jonathan Value QC, instructed by David Value Solicitors, for the defendants.

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