Lords refuse to reopen libel action

The House of Lords has refused to reopen a libel action brought against the News of the World by a man at the centre of paedophile allegations.

Alan Eric Campbell was awarded £350,000 libel damages in the High Court in October 2001 after he sued the paper over claims including that he was an active paedophile; that he sexually abused children; and made and marketed videos of the abuse.

However, the Court of Appeal in July 2002 cut the award to £30,000 after the paper challenged the amount.

In his application to the House of Lords for permission to appeal against that reduction, he argued that the Appeal judges, in considering the matter, failed to limit themselves to considering the size of the award. He claimed they also, and wrongly, reconsidered the issue of liability.

He argued that in those circumstances, as the judges had considered matters he had not been expecting and had not been prepared to argue, his rights to justice under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been breached.

In a decision published this week, and without giving any reasons, Lords Nicholls and Hope and Baroness Hale dismissed his application.

By Roger Pearson

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