Times Newspapers Ltd apologise to solicitors for false and damaging article
In a statement in open court, Times Newspapers Limited has apologised to the law firm Hodge Jones & Allen LLP for ‘false and damaging statements’ published in The Times newspaper. The Claimant, a well-known London firm, had been the subject of a front page article published on 26 June 2014 by the Defendant.
The article stated that the Claimant was being sued by a former client, Matthew McCafferty, for negligence and unjust enrichment in relation to a claim that related to the controversial MMR vaccination. The Claimant had been granted legal aid in 1998 to investigate a claim for damages on behalf of several children who had developed conditions such as autism after being vaccinated with the MMR jab. Mr McCafferty had instructed the firm in 2000 but subsequently threatened the Claimant with legal proceedings after the firm ceased to act for him. It was alleged that the Claimants should have known that any claim was hopeless and that they were being unjustly enriched through the public purse. The article also stated that the Claimant had lost Mr McCafferty’s file and had failed to provide information that had been requested by his lawyers. The Claimant had, in fact, provided an electronic copy of the file to Mr McCafferty’s legal team and the original file, once located, was also copied for them. No proceedings had been issued by Mr McCafferty at the time of the article or since its publication.
The Claimant complained about the inaccuracy of the article immediately but the Defendant initially denied liability and had refused the request to remove the article from its website. At the hearing at the High Court on 24 November 2014, the Defendant withdrew the allegations and apologised to the Claimant. The Defendant has also agreed to pay a substantial but undisclosed sum by way of damages to the Claimant in addition to the Claimant’s legal costs in a settlement negotiated between the parties.
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