The Court of Appeal has found for Leave.EU funder Arron Banks on one ground in an appeal in his libel action against the journalist Carole Cadwalladr. It dismissed the appeal on the other two grounds.
The first ground was that s.1 of the Defamation Act 2013 allowed a claimant to rely on all publication of the defamatory words complained of, to meet the statutory requirement of “serious harm” to reputation from publication – even if the publisher had a defence to the initial publications. Ms Cadwalladr had established a defence of public interest speech to over a million publications of her TED Talk online and via a link on her twitter feed in the first months after she gave the talk. The court rejected Mr Banks’ interpretation of the section and held that a claimant must show serious harm flowing from the later digital publications that the defendant was unable to defend, ignoring the earlier lawful publications.
As a result, the court dismissed Mr Banks’ second ground by which he argued that the twitter feed publications had caused him serious harm.
The court upheld the third ground by which Mr Banks argued that approximately 100,000 viewings of the TED Talk online after the first year of publication had caused serious harm. Ms Cadwallader’s public interest speech defence had fallen away by this stage due to a change in circumstances.