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2.07.19

Morgan v Times Newspapers Limited: Court holds that article criticising conduct of barrister in Ben Stokes prosecution was defamatory at common law

Mr Justice Soole has handed down his judgment in the trial of preliminary issues in Alison Morgan QC v Times Newspapers Limited [2019] EWHC 1525 (QB).  The judgment, available here, determined the meaning of an article published in The Times on 16 August 2018 titled ‘Senior Prosecutor under fire after Stokes is cleared of affray’.

Soole J agreed that the meaning of the words complained of were as pleaded by the claimant, namely that she was ‘...reasonably suspected of having been professionally negligent in regard to her decisions as to who should be prosecuted and for what offences in the trial of Ben Stokes and that those decisions had meant that Mr Stokes had not been charged with the correct offences, that Alex Hales had not been charged at all despite film of him kicking one of the victims in the head and that the prosecution had thereby not been properly mounted.’

The judge further found that the article was defamatory of the claimant at common law and had a tendency to cause serious harm to her reputation.

 

Note: As The Times acknowledged in its Corrections and Clarification column, contrary to what was asserted in the article, Ms Morgan had not been involved in deciding who to prosecute and for what offences.

 

Alison Morgan QC was represented by Iain Wilson and Tom Double of Brett Wilson LLP and William Bennett of 5RB.


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