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

Published:

Re: 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.

Anthony Hudson QC was involved in this case.