Never forget these 3 things about libel:
1 It does not matter what you meant to say, or who you meant to write about. The meaning of what you say is not up to the writer etc. It is determined by thinking what the right-minded reader would make of it.
2 However small your reference to others it can be found, especially online.
3 You’ve always got the Reynolds defence.
Not what you meant
What was the writer thinking he said as he wrote that Liberace was “deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, ice-covered heap of mother love?” A homosexual? Or just his view of Liberace.? The jury said it was a false, veiled accusation of homosexuality, which, at the time, was illegal. Judgement to Liberace in an English libel court.
Some people are litigious. Uri Geller was said to be a “paranormal con artist” in a cover mount. But it was found from this obscure place. There are plenty of people now employed to look after the profile of celebs. Their agents, their PRs, their publishers etc.
And third, the Reynolds defence says if you’ve done a good job of research and it is in the public interest you should have a defence. But this, now the most used defence, mostly loses because the writer did not do a good job.
Find out more from our libel e-learning training.
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