Big Brother housemate libel action is thrown out

The High Court has thrown out a libel action brought by Big Brother 4 housemate Lisa Jeynes, who claimed that she had been portrayed as a man posing as a woman.

Jeynes, 38, who featured in the 2003 series of the reality show, had sued over publications on the cover of Love it! magazine and in the News of the World, in May last year.

Her complaint focused on the words: "BB's Lisa 'the geezer'. My fake boobs fell out on date with James Hewitt!"

She said that the innuendo – against a background of rumours in 2003 that there was to be a transsexual contestant – was that she was really a man posing as a woman, a transgender or transsexual.

The one-time shop manager turned model, who was not at London's High Court, was seeking compensation, including aggravated and exemplary damages, not exceeding £150,000.

But now, Jeynes, who is currently living on benefits, faces paying costs on account of £6,750.

Mr Justice Eady imposed no time limit on the payment after her counsel, Adrian Davies, said Jeynes had suffered a "serious accident of a very unpleasant and disfiguring nature involving electric cable".

He said she was modelling on a set when one of the overhead lights came crashing down and she was struck in the face by a power cable.

"She is currently unemployed and unlikely to find further work modelling so her circumstances are somewhat distressing and any order for costs may be somewhat academic at this stage."

Alexandra Marzec, counsel for News Magazines Ltd and News Group Newspapers, who denied libel, had argued that the words complained of taken in their proper context could not bear Jeynes's "far-fetched" meaning and should be struck out.

She said that if rumours about a transsexual contestant were around in 2003 they had no factual basis and were not in circulation three years later in 2006.

Dismissing the action, the judge read from the article in which Jeynes revealed all about her "steamy affair" with Hewitt.

It described how, before she had her "boobs done", her top kept falling down and that she had "chicken fillets" in there.

It also described her affairs with various men, her hopes of meeting "Mr Right", and how Hewitt had told her he loved her dearly although she knew it would not last.

Marzec said that someone reading only the cover reference to "Lisa the geezer" or a related advert in the News of the World would appreciate that this related to the article – and there was no reason to suppose from the article that Ms Jeynes was anything but a biological woman.

The judge ruled that no reasonable reader could conclude that the words complained of bore the meaning alleged.

"That would be to read far too much into those words."

He refused Jeynes permission to appeal on the basis that her case had no prospect of success, although she can apply to the Court of Appeal direct.

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