Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED May 20, 2003

Statements in open court made in libel proceedings following the publication of articles containing allegations of the claimants behaviour.Separate statements made in open court in a libel action brought by the claimant ('C'), a celebrity, against the then editor of "The People" newspaper ('P') and its publisher. On the 5 January 2003 P published an article on its front page accusing C of plotting to bribe a police officer in order to gain access to the Police National Computer ('PNC'). On page 5 it was also claimed that C, having previously won public sympathy for overcoming alcohol addiction, had arranged for cut-price drinks to be sold at a nightclub in Edinburgh. Contrary to the articles: (i) C had not plotted to bribe a police officer. An undercover reporter acting on behalf of P had contacted C on a number of occasions posing as a detective from a private detective agency and covertly recorded their conversations. C refused to allow money to be offered to a police officer for access to the PNC; (ii) C was hired to make a personal appearance at the nightclub and had nothing to do with the drinks promotion.Although P published an apology in March 2003 and issued a statement in open court accepting the allegations were false, the parties were unable to make a joint statement because of C's refusal to be a party to such a statement provided P refused to state publicly that the allegations "ought never to have been published in the first place".