Thursday, July 24, 2008

Max Mosley wins, but fails to get punitive damages.

Max Mosley has won his High Court case against the News of the World, being awarded £60,000 in damages. Alas he has failed to get punitive or exemplary damages which is a shame.

The reason why I say it is a shame is that large media organisations can make money out of trashing peoples reputations even where they get sued for libel and lose.

Take Robert Murat. His name was resoundingly trashed with no shred of evidence whatsoever. The papers who did that settled out of court for £50,000 each plus costs, presumably similar in number. Does anyone seriously think they did not make much more than that trashing his reputation?

The BBC has this and there is a copy of the judgement here, whilst the BBC has this on Robert Murat.


Heather Yaxley said...

Shouldn't the papers have to demonstrate what profits they've made from such stories as part of determining the cost they have to pay?

Benedict White said...

They would only have to "account for profits" if they were paying exemplary (or punitive) damages so in this case, no.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is reading about this case today because it involves a public figure who sued, but I’d like to make the point that ordinary sex workers, who are not in the public eye, are being exposed by the media all the time in the name of sensational sex stories. Tabloid newspapers especially frequently run articles exposing ordinary “working girls”, despite the fact it is not against the law to work as an escort and thus these ladies have committed no crime. The lives of many sex workers in the UK and Ireland have been ruined by this type of journalism. Last month, in Ireland, a TV show exposed two separate independent escorts on national TV for apparently no reason other than salacious TV. I don’t know if today’s verdict will discourage this type of journalism but I hope it will.