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Daily Mail and Evening Standard ordered to pay £60,000 in damages to university tutor following libel jury trial

University tutor Luke Cooper has succeeded in his libel claim against the Daily Mail and the London Evening standard.  stories in the papers had effectively accused Mr Cooper of being a ringleader in the violence which took place at the Millbank Tower during the protests against education cuts in November 2010.  Evening standard journalist Benedict Moore-Bridger reported Mr Cooper as saying, The reason we attacked Tory HQ is we want to send a really strong message to this government that we are not going to let higher education be brutalised. Mr Cooper denied saying The reason we attacked Tory HQ.  Giving evidence, Mr Moore-Bridger denied falsifying the quote.

Mr Cooper also complained about the use of an old photograph from a social networking website which he said was taken out of context to give the impression of a man grinning at the havoc wreaked.

After four hours the jury found unanimously in favour of the claimant in that the allegations contained in the articles were not likely to be substantially true.  The jury said that the Evening standard should have to pay £35,000 in damages to Mr Cooper and the Daily Mail £25,000.  The papers have been injuncted from repeating the allegations

The newspapers have been ordered to pay Mr Coopers legal costs.  Mr Coopers lawyers were on a conditional fee agreement and it is understood that an interim payment of £450,000 is due within 28 days.

The five-day trial, which was presided over by Mr Justice Eady, is the first libel jury trial in nearly three years.  The government is currently seeking to reverse the presumption in favour of a jury trial for libel cases if one is requested in accordance with the rules.


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