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Misunderstood the point.

Misunderstood the point.

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Dec 04, 2016 2:02 am

If a chap says something, and a newspaper reports what he said, but misunderstands the point and as a headline completely misrepresents that point, then is that defamation, or is their stupidity a fair defence?
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby shootist » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:20 am

If stupidity was a 'fair defence' then the conviction rate in criminal courts would drop by about 95%.
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby atticus » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:40 am

If the report is defamatory, the stupidity of the person publishing the report will not assist him.
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:42 am

The report seems accurate, the headline twists it enough that it might be defamatory.
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby atticus » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:51 am

The principle is unchanged.
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby dls » Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:12 am

HL you are missing the point. Whether the report is accurate is not a primary determinant of whether it is defamatory.

You can say 'Man U play in Red' I can report you as saying 'Man U play at Old Trafford'. My report is very inaccurate. It is not defamatory. None of my words would undermine your reputation.

You can say 'X is a pervert' I can repeat your exact words, and it is defamatory of X. The first question is whether the words I use are defamatory. If they are then I am responsible (generally) in defamation.
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:19 pm

atticus wrote:The principle is unchanged.

How is "fair comment" defined? Is it arguably fair if a lot of people would agree with that interpretation of what was said?

dls wrote:HL you are missing the point. Whether the report is accurate is not a primary determinant of whether it is defamatory.

No, I think you have misunderstood my question... I'll try again.

You can say 'Man U play in Red' I can report you as saying 'Man U play at Old Trafford'. My report is very inaccurate.

It is not defamatory. None of my words would undermine your reputation.


If I had said that Man U play with the grace and elegance of the finest of dancers, and you said that I had said that they played like prize prima-donnas, then that is quite a substantial misrepresentation of what I meant. It probably falls short of defamation, but I'm working with your example.
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby 3.14 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:06 pm

Are you trying to say that a paper misrepresenting what you say is defamatory of you not the person you were talking about?
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby atticus » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:14 pm

There is no defence of (in those exact words) "fair comment". There are defences as set out in ss 2 to 7 of the Defamation Act 2013. Section 3 sets out the criteria for establishing a defence of "honest opinion".
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Re: Misunderstood the point.

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:47 pm

3.14 wrote:Are you trying to say that a paper misrepresenting what you say is defamatory of you not the person you were talking about?

I was trying to say the former, but the example demonstrates the latter.

And thank you Atti' for that clarification.
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