High Court rules on meaning in Sakho libel case


Re: 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.

Guy Vassall Adams QC was involved in this case.

Please find judgment here.