Restaurant critic libel ruling overturned

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Restaurant critics should be able to review an eatery without fear of being sued for libel, after Northern Ireland’s Court of Appeal on Monday overturned a jury’s decision to award libel damages of £25,000 against the Irish News for a highly critical review of a pizzeria in 2000.

Restaurant critic for the Independent on Sunday Terry Durack said that reviews in Britain are able to be a lot more critical than in his native Australia, where it is common for restaurants to sue critics.

In the Independent today Durack explained that whilst working for the Sydney Morning Herald his reviews were scrutinised by the lawyers and that bad reviews resulted in abuse from disgruntled chefs, but in Britain restaurants on the receiving end were more likely to accept the criticism.

Durack also said that his “worst savaging” came from a fellow critic. “He accused me, in print, of either being the chef’s best mate, or his public relations man”.

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