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Court: High Court

High Court rules that student finance regulations discriminate against domestic violence survivors

OA v Secretary of State for Education [2020] EWHC 276 (Admin)

The High Court has today ruled that a survivor of domestic violence was unlawfully refused a student loan and that the current student finance regulations discriminate against victims of domestic violence. The court ruled there was a breach of her ECHR, article 14 and article 2 of the first protocol.

The claimant’s ex-partner had withheld her immigration documents. This led to her spousal visa not being renewed in time and led to the client remaining unlawfully in the UK for nearly a year through no fault of her own.

She was later granted indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence. But the gap in ‘lawful residency’ caused by her ex-partner’s abuse led to her being precluded by the current education regulations from obtaining a student loan.

Without student funding, she incurred significant debt with her university and was forced to withdraw from her studies.

High Court rules on meaning in Sakho libel case

Sakho v World Anti-Doping Agency [2020] EWHC 251 (QB)

The claimant is a professional footballer who currently plays for Crystal Palace Football Club. He has brought a defamation claim against the World Anti-Doping Agency. This judgment addresses a preliminary issue as to the meaning of the words complained of by the claimant, but also as to whether the judge should determine the meaning only of the primary publications or also of certain republications.

The primary publications are emails to journalists at national newspapers, whereas the republications are the printed newspaper articles, which include the wording of the emails. 

Held: The meanings of the Articles are relevant to the determination of whether publication of the words complained of has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the claimant’s reputation; and determining their meanings at this stage is in accordance with the overriding objective. The judge went on to find that the meaning of the articles bore a different meaning to the emails.

High court determines ‘Taming of the Screw’ article to mean claimant committed serious misconduct as a prison officer

Hamilton v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2020] EWHC 59 (QB)

This case involved the determination of meaning as a preliminary issue for a libel claim. The claimant was, for a period of months in 2017, a prison officer at Her Majesty’s Prison, Wandsworth. She brings an action for libel and misuse of private information against the publisher of The Sun newspaper in respect of an article published in the print edition of The Sun for 28 February 2018 under the heading, “Taming of the Screw – Jail officer quits after lag ‘fling’”, and a similar online article.

Held: The central, natural and ordinary meaning of each article, in my judgment, is this: “the Claimant committed serious misconduct in her role as a prison officer by engaging in an emotional and physical relationship with an inmate.

High Court determines meaning of articles in MP’s libel claim

Elphicke MP v Times Newspapers Ltd [2019] EWHC 3563 (QB)

This trial determined the preliminary issue of meaning of three articles published in April 2018 under the headlines: ‘Police Quiz Tory MP Charlie Elphicke after two women allege sex crimes’, ‘Police Failed to tell Tory MP Charlie Elphicke about rape claim: Female aide made allegations five months ago’ and ‘A Tory MP is accused of rape and no one stirs: Police delays [and secrecy] are adding to the distress of both parties.’ The claimant is claiming that all three articles were a misuse of private information. He claims that the second and third articles libellous of him.

Held: The meaning of the articles were taken as a whole to mean that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the Claimant was guilty of rape. The ordinary reader would not understand these articles to make an allegation that the Claimant was guilty of rape. The references in the articles to the complainant’s ‘claims’ and ‘allegations’ to having been raped, do not necessarily protect the Defendant against a Chase level 1 meaning as the repetition rule makes clear, but, at the same time, the use of these words is part of the factual matrix from which the reader will take away the ordinary meanings of the articles.