Sun wins disclosure order in Baby P libel case

The Sun has won a High Court order for the NSPCC to disclose documents which might demonstrate that a social worker who is suing the newspaper for defamation has lied.

The newspaper’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, is being sued by Haringey social worker Sylvia Henry over a series of stories connected with the case of Baby P, Peter Connelly, who died after 18 months of abuse at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and the boyfriend’s brother.

News Group has pleaded in its particulars of justification that Henry lied during the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, who died as a result of abuse by her foster mother and her boyfriend.

Henry was involved with the Climbie case through a centre operated by the NSPCC.

The allegation that she lied centred on an entry in a record which, although undated and unsigned, was admittedly made by Henry, and was said to be false.

The publisher’s solicitors and lawyers for the NSPCC had been in correspondence about the disclosure application, and had reached a measure of agreement, as a result of which a draft order and schedule of documents sought was put to the court.

The NSPCC did not consent to the making of the proposed order, but also indicated that it did not object to it, either. Henry made no representations.

Evidence was put before the court that documents requested did existed and News Group had shown it likely they would support or adversely affect the case of one or other party in the libel action.

The authenticity of the impugned entry was a central issue in the libel action because the words complained of were said to mean that Henry had lied, the court was told.

In order to dispose fairly of those proceedings it was necessary that the NSPCC should disclose the documents sought.

Henry brought her action against The Sun to vindicate her reputation and it was important that the information sought was before the court, the court heard.

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