Barber legal case to continue despite defamation ruling

The academic who launched a legal claim over an unfavourable review of her book by Lynn Barber will continue her action without appealing against a ruling that the article was not defamatory.

Dr Sarah Thornton claimed to have been defamed by a reference to “copy approval” in Barber’s review of her book, Seven Days in the Art World, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 1 November, 2008.

However, Justice Tugendhat ruled on June 16 that the reference was not serious enough to qualify as defamatory.

Despite that ruling Thornton will continue with two other elements of her claim against the newspaper, said her lawyer, Daniel Taylor, a partner at law firm Taylor Hampton Solicitors.

Thornton claims malicious falsehood and malice over the newspaper’s offer of amends in relation to a reference in the review about Barber having been included as an interviewee.

Taylor said: “Although, as Justice Tugendhat held, the appeal had a real prospect of success, our client decided not to pursue it because on reflection it was not felt necessary.

“Her complaint in respect of the false allegation made by Lynn Barber that Sarah Thornton gave her interviewees ‘the right to read what she said about them and alter it’ is alive and proceeding through her claim in malicious falsehood.

“So also is the libel claim over Ms Barber’s separate allegation that Dr Thornton had dishonestly included Ms Barber as one of her interviewees, in respect of which the Telegraph published a (belated) apology and retraction on September 26, 2009.

“As Dr Thornton has already made clear, the Telegraph’s offer of amends defence will be met with a plea of malice covering both the date of publication and the period of some months afterwards during which the Telegraph unaccountably refused to withdraw the article from its website.”

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