Kerrang masturbation jibe is libel - court rules

A High Court jury has ruled that was libellous to accuse a band’s tour manager of “pleasuring himself” and awarded him damages of £40,000 against Kerrang magazine.

Mark Stickland, 36, argued that he was portrayed as a “sexual deviant” in the
January 2006 edition of music magazine Kerrang!

The magazine’s publisher, Emap Metro, which had refused his offer of
£4,999 plus an apology to settle the case, had argued the libel defence of justification saying that the claim was true.

It was refused permission to appeal after yesterday’s unanimous verdict
by the jury although it can apply
directly to the Court of Appeal.

The article, headlined Filth Pigs, warned readers to “prepare to be disgusted” by the “sickest interview ever” with metalcore band Bullet For My
Valentine.

It included a comment from drummer Moose about the Bridgend four-piece’s
tour manager on its German dates in December 2005 – a position which
Stickland held at the time, although he was not named directly.

Asked if he had ever been caught “wanking”, Moose was quoted as saying:
“Never, I’m too good at it, but we caught our tour manager pleasuring
himself in Germany two weeks ago.

“He was in a dressing room and we just walked in and I knew what he was
doing instantly, you can’t mistake that sound for anything else.

“We called him Stinky for the rest of the tour.”

Stickland’s counsel, William McCormick, told Mr Justice Tugendhat and
the jury that the incident had never happened.

He said that Stickland, of Mansfield Road, Nottingham, was a “fairly
ordinary guy” who took a quiet pride in doing his job well and enjoyed
the respect of friends and acquaintances.

But the article attributed to him conduct which was “wholly
inconsistent” with his professional responsibilities.

“What’s being said is that when he should have been at work, he engaged
in activity which was lewd, sexual and, effectively, he could not
control his sexual impulses,” he had told the court.

Kerrang argued that it was an allegation of clandestine and ordinary sexual behaviour which was not defamatory, and was also true.

Stickland, who has worked for bands in Europe, the United States and
in Australia over the past 10 years, said the article made him feel
“angry, humiliated, hurt and very upset”.

“I felt very awkward picking up the phone and asking people for work.
The bands I work with are all heavy metal bands and, in the heavy metal
business, everyone reads Kerrang!”

Pub acquaintances had ridiculed him and called him Stinky and he hated
socialising in places where he used to relax.

“I have never been to court before in my life. In my job, I am always
behind with no-one looking at me. This is hell for me – I hate it.”

Moose – real name Michael Thomas – had told the jury that he had walked
into the room for a second or two and realised Stickland was “doing
what he should not have been doing, but what he was doing was up to
him”.

He knew, from Stickland’s sudden movement and the sound made by his
clothing, that he was masturbating, he said, adding: “Being a bloke, a
boy, you know when you are caught doing something. I knew what he was
doing.”

After the hearing, Stickland said: “All I ever wanted to do was clear
my name and I believe that is what’s happened.

“I’m very relieved it’s all over – it’s been a year to get where we
are.”

Comments
No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nineteen − five =

CLOSE
CLOSE