Friday, 21 October 2011

Law lecture 3 - Defamation

What is defamation? It is what you write/broadcast about someone/company that tends to:

- lower them in estimation of right-thinking people
- cause them to be shunned or avoided
- disparages them in their business trade or profession
- exposed them to hatred, ridicule or contempt

Defamation via pictures:
- common danger in TV
- careless use of background shots with voice over can be defamatory

Reputation and meaning

Reputation is precious, especially if you are in public life, have money or both
meaning as interpreted by reasonable man
inference = hazard
innuendo = hazard
assess the whole context


Libel defences:

Justification: it's true and I can prove it
Fair comment: honestly held opinion based upon facts, also in public interest
Absolute Privilege: court reporting
Qualified privilege: police quotes, pressers
Bane and antidote: defamation removed by context
apologies and clarifications

Reynolds defence – it must be:

-in the public interest
-product of responsible journalism

No defence:
-when you have no checked your facts
-when you haven't referred up
-when you have not put yourself in the shoes of the person you write about
-got carried away by a spicy story
-not bothered to wait for lawyer's opinion

recognise risk:
-who am I writing about and could they sue?
-is what I'm writing potentially defamatory?
-do I have a defence?


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