Sally Bercow loses libel case brought by Lord McAlpine
This morning a judge at the High Court ruled that Sally Bercow’s tweet last November about Lord McAlpine suggested that he was a “paedophile who was guilty of sexually abusing boys living in care” and therefore libelous.
Afterwards, Mrs Bercow, who now faces a huge legal bill, stated she was “surprised and disappointed” by the ruling and issued the following statement:
“I will accept the ruling as the end of the matter. I remain sorry for the distress I have caused Lord McAlpine and I repeat my apologies. I did not tweet this with malice, and I did not intend to libel Lord McAlpine. I was being conversational and mischievous, as was so often my style on Twitter”.
“I very much regret my tweet, and I promptly apologised publicly and privately to Lord McAlpine for the distress I caused him. I also made two offers of compensation. Lord McAlpine issued proceedings and the last few months have been a nightmare. I am sure he has found it as stressful as I have. Litigation is not a pleasant experience for anyone”.
“Today’s ruling should be seen as a warning to all social media users. Things can be held to be seriously defamatory, even when you do not intend them to be defamatory and do not make any express accusation. On this, I have learned my own lesson the hard way”.
Mrs Bercow might have a big mouth but we view this to be a sad day for freedom of speech and common sense.
Lord McAlpine had funds to take this to court regardless of what the outcome was. The people that do not have funds to defend themselves against the press suffer the consequences. They are advised to go to the Press complaints Commision by judges such those as Jusice Tugendhat’s role eg his predecessor Justice Eady . . However this is useless when the reporters say they have contamperaneous notes. The PCC accept the reporter version of events and unless you can take this to court you suffer the same as Lord Mc Alpine did. However the consequences for the victim here that did not have funds to take the press to court was 14 years away from his Family IN Prison , the loss of his Family home of 22 years for Fraud charges. All reports stemmed from misreporting and remarks on the Internet. Wonder if J Tugendhat will address this Pro Bono of course!
In my opinion the outcome of the case is clearly wrong.
You could argue that the decision issued yesterday when considered in isolation was reasoned and logical. However an over-analysis of the meaning of seven words and no consideration whatsover of the wider context and numerous other crucial points, has produced a one dimensional, distorted and disproportionate outcome. I think this may have had something to do with the case management which did not seem designed to encourage the introduction or development of these crucial arguments. A clear departure from legal precendent and guidance. I could produce a long list of comparisions and inconsistencies with other cases to demonstrate this but they are really quite obvious when you read a few recent cases involving multiple ‘libels’. The question I am asking myself today is why.
I think she made a mistake and apolagized, and should be let off.
She is ghastly and vulgar and took too long to apologise. Serves her-and her ludicrous little husband right. Appointing this vulgar and common man to the Speaker of the Commons symptomised the sad decline of our once great nation. Call me a snob and you would be correct
Just be careful what you tweet, how you tweet it and that you have your facts in order and the facts aren’t overruled or misrepresented and overclouded by feelings and perceptions.
I would probably agree and the law can be forgiving when certain factors are weighed up. But It takes no account of the intentions of the person making the comment – just the affect it has on the person it is about. I suppose in a way you can understand that. But one cannot help think that this judgement is not only wrong but vindictive and punitive, which certainly is not the supposed intention. Taking libel action is about vindication of reputation.
What we need to do is go back to the basics. Forgot the meaning of the seven words (which everyone has become side-tracked by) and decide this. Have the comments done any harm?
If these words had been the only ones used or were the starting point for the allegations or the trigger for their escalation, one might say they did significant harm. In this instance with everything else which was going on and considering the background I cannot conclude that they were. Despite the seriousness of the matter, these words were a relatively small part to all of this and the claimant recovered from two defendants (BBC and ITV ) probably more than he should have received or been awarded in court for all the publications/broadcasts.
On that basis, in normal circumstances Sally Bercow’s offer however much it was, would have been sufficient and the action by McAlpine judged unnecessary and disprportionate. The legal precedent I referred to earlier and on other blogs clearly supports this view and one has to wonder why it never came into play here – when the same argument is used and accepted by judges in a significant number of libel cases. What was so different about this case that the judge departed from or at least overlooked clear guidelines for multi libel/defendant libel cases?
Sally Bercow has been used as a scapecourt and I must admit my faith in the judiciary and even many people has been severely knocked by this case. I am yet to come across a view showing that I am wrong. A couple of people have picked away at some of my points and justified the meaning decision. I am aware of the points in the meaning decision and that is not the issue. The issue is why some major points were not considered at all which if they had been, should have resulted in a different outcome.
I guess most people are none the wiser because they simply have not taken the trouble to read the cases – although curiously still feel qualified to insist that the judge was correct.
The outcome of this case was feigned by pre- arrangement between the parties, or else we must assume and accept that Bercow’s defence team was incompetent and useless. It is only a thought, shoot me down, should you disagree.
Sally is Bercowed again. Sally and the Commons Speaker are facing a storm of criticism after it emerged that their children’s nanny live in a taxpayers funded apartment in the House of Parliment.
The Rank Organisations “Carry On” creators Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas would have had a field day with this kind of original ideas for a new script.