Judge wins libel case against The Independent

A senior military judge today accepted a public apology and substantial but undisclosed libel damages at London’s High Court over an article in the Independent in April this year headlined “Justice never had a hearing in this case.”

Mr Justice Eady was told that the article appeared the day after Judge Advocate Bayliss’s verdict in a widely-publicised Court Martial decision in the case of Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith who was convicted of five charges of failing to comply with lawful orders for refusing to serve in Iraq.

Solicitor Isabel Hudson for Judge Bayliss, said that before being appointed to the post of an Assistant Judge Advocate General in 1996, he had been a Chief Naval Judge Advocate and is also today a Crown Court recorder.

She said the article complained of made a “scathing attack” on the manner in which the Court Martial had been handled by Judge Bayliss and suggested he had “presided over a kangaroo court, had unfairly refused to allow Flight Lieutenant Kendall-Smith to put forward a defence and had not acted with the professionalism, integrity and independence expected of the judiciary.”

However, she said : “These suggestions were false.”

She said that there was no reason to question Judge Bayliss’s professionalism, integrity or independence and the paper now acknowledged this.

She continued : “The article caused Judge Advocate Bayliss great distress and embarrassment particularly given that he continues to carry out his judicial functions to preside over Courts Martial and to sit as a Recorder in the Crown Court.”

However, she said the paper had now published a full apology and had agreed to pay the judge substantial damages along with his legal costs.

For the paper solicitor Julian Darrell said the apologised unreservedly for the distress and embarrassment that had been caused by publication of the “false allegations contained in the article.”

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