The former chief of rail union Aslef, Shaun Brady, has won £30,000 damages in his libel action against Loco Journal.
Brady, who now runs a pub in Middenbury, Hampshire, had sued Aslef general secretary and the editor of Loco Journal Keith Norman over an article headlined “The Brady Era Is Over”, which appeared in July 2006.
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Deputy ludge Richard Parkes QC, at London’s High Court, had ruled that the defence of qualified privilege applied to all but 131 of the magazine’s 18,000 readership, and asked a jury to consider the case on that basis.
Brady, who was dismissed in 2004 and later brought a successful claim for unfair dismissal, is now acting general secretary of the Associated Train Crew Union, which is intended to be an alternative to Aslef.
He had claimed the article meant that the certification officer, who deals with trade unions, had ruled that he was legitimately excluded from the membership of Aslef for bringing the union into disrepute.
Norman, who published a prompt apology when he was contacted by Brady’s solicitors, accepted that the words were not true, but denied that they bore a defamatory meaning.
The judge said Brady, who had plainly been a loyal servant of Aslef whatever the reasons for his departure, felt very bitter about what he felt was his unfair treatment at the hands of the union.
He was very upset by the incorrect article, although there was no evidence that it had affected his business or social life.
After the jury’s unanimous verdict, Brady, who had previously offered to settle the case for £9,500, said: “I’m really pleased about the decision – I feel vindicated.”
There was no comment from Norman’s side. Norman was refused permission to appeal, although he can renew his application directly to the Court of Appeal.
The two sides agreed that there should be a stay on the payment of the award above £15,000 pending any appeal.