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Supreme Court allows Times defamation appeal on public interest qualified privilege

In Flood “v- Times News Limited [2012] UKsC 11 the supreme Court allowed the appeal of the Defendant publisher, overturning the decision of the Court of Appeal and restoring the 2009 decision of Mr Justice Tugendhat.  Tugendhat Js original decision in the High Court was of particular significance as it was the first time a national newspaper had successfully established the Reynolds defence of journalistic qualified privilege.

The Claimant police officer had sued in relation to an article that appeared in the Defendants newspaper The Times in 2006 headed Detective accused of taking bribes from Russian exiles.  The Claimant argued that the article falsely alleged that there were grounds to suspect that he had accepted bribes from Russian fugitives in return from passing them confidential information and intelligence concerning attempt to extradite them.  The Defendant had sought to justify the meaning of the article on the basis that an internal police investigation had taken place, albeit that ultimately it did not result in any evidence to support the allegations.

In delivering one of five separate judgments, Lord Mance held that Tugendhat J had been correct in ruling that the article was covered by public qualified privilege.  Notwithstanding that the article was damaging to the Claimants reputation, it had not asserted the truth of the allegations, the Defendant had given the Claimant an opportunity to comment and there had been careful editorial judgment.

A copy of the full judgment can be found by following the below link:


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