Libel - are printed apologies sufficient remedy?

Leona Lewis may have managed to get Look magazine to publish an apology and the PCC may consider this enough to settle the matter but is this really enough?

One issue that remains contentious is the adequacy of printed apologies as remedies. While the offending stories are usually splashed across the front pages, apologies tend to get buried deep inside a magazine or paper’s content. In her recent case against the Daily Mail Kate Winslet was successful in forcing the paper to read out an apology in open court after it had settled the case and paid damages. The original apology the paper printed had been buried in a small column on page 27 which Winslet and her legal team at Schillings considered to be insufficient. They issued an application notice dated 3 September 2009 for permission to read a unilateral statement in open court in accordance with the provisions of CPR 53PD 6.1
Mr Justice Eady agreed that the request to read out a statement fell within the procedural guidelines and allowed it [judgment HERE] – so the Mail was forced to say sorry in open court which meant that the rest of the press got to report it!

Winslet has not been the first to complain about the adequacy of apologies, in 2003 actor John Cleese won £13,500 from the London Evening Standard over a ‘manifestly vitriolic’ article it had published suggesting his career was over. He was not satisfied with the apology it then printed and Mr Justice Eady awarded him damages.

Look says sorry to Leona Lewis

Fashion and gossip magazine Look has said sorry to former X-Factor winner Leona Lewis after publishing a story that suggested she was making ‘emotional calls’ to he mother and not coping with the pressures of stardom.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) which received a complaint by the singer over the story, has concluded that the apology published in a subsequent edition was sufficient enough to resolve the issue.

Making unfounded comments about someone’s state of mind or mental health can not only be defamatory but could also – as a discussion of a personal sensitive issue / medical condition - be invasive of their privacy. Luckily for Look Leona Lewis only launched a complaint with the PCC which means the worst the magazine could have got was a telling off, had she decided to launch a legal action there could have been the prospect of a big cheque changing hands to make the issue go away. Could she still sue? Yes, accepting an apology is not the same as a pre-trial offer of amends. She may feel the apology is enough and that the credibility of Look’s content is not going to cause her sufficient damage to warrant the publicity attaching to legal action.

One issue that remains contentious is the adequacy of printed apologies as remedies.

PCC to police online only publications

The Press Standards Board of Finance has announced that it has given the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) the go-ahead to extend its scrutiny over the press to publications that are only available online. In 2007 the PCC expanded its role to cover online content on newspaper and magazine websites but given the surge in internet-based/internet only publications, this extension in remit allow the PCC to extend its watchful eye across the online environment BUT before we get too excited and think the entire internet is now being policed, the extension in remit is limited as follows:
publications that must be recognisable as UK based newspapers or magazines which, if in printed form, would come within the jurisdiction of the PCC.

the publisher and editor must subscribe to the Editors’ Code of Practice.

the publisher must agree to pay registration fees to PressBoF.

So this will open a few internet doors but only those who are happy to allow the PCC in!

The Sun removes nude woman from website

The PCC has deemed a claim against The Sun to be resolved after the paper removed the nude photograph that appeared alongside an article about her relationship. The article appeared in 2006 but was still available online. A rare occasion where The Sun has removed a nude woman from its pages….