Saturday, 28 May 2011

High Court dismissed Big Brother 'transsexual' libel

Barrister Adrian Davies (of 3 Dr Johnson's Buildings, Lincoln's Inn) represented a Big Brother contestant in one of the most bizarre cases to come before the London courts in recent years, held before Mr Justice Eady in 2007.

Lisa Jeynes, a former model and shop manageress from South Wales, had brought a claim for libel damages of up to £150,000 against the News of the World, over an article the newspaper had published in 2003 under the headline "BB's Lisa 'the geezer'. My fake boobs fell out on date with James Hewitt!"

During and after her participation in that year's Big Brother series, Ms Jeynes had been plagued by rumours that she was a transsexual. Tabloid frenzy had been further stimulated by her brief romantic involvement with James Hewitt, former lover of the late Princess of Wales. Her claim was that the News of the World headline would be construed by reasonable readers to add credibility to the untrue and defamatory transsexual innuendo.

However Mr Justice Eady disagreed, and rejected her case. In his judgment an inference that Ms Jeynes was transsexual "would be to read far too much into those words" and no reasonable reader of the News of the World would do so.

Ms Jeynes' counsel Adrian Davies successfully argued that no time limit for costs should be enforced against her, since she was unable to work after being struck by an electric cable while on a modelling assignment, resulting in a "serious accident of a very unpleasant and disfiguring nature. ... She is currently unemployed and unlikely to find further work modelling so her circumstances are somewhat distressing and any order for costs may be somewhat academic at this stage."

The case was extensively reported, including this BBC report.

Monday, 4 October 2010

London Barrister Adrian Davies wins union leader's case

London barrister Adrian Davies represented Shaun Brady, former leader of the train drivers' union ASLEF, in one of the highest profile trade union cases of recent years.

Mr Brady sued his successor as ASLEF General Secretary, Keith Norman, for libel over comments made in the July 2006 edition of the union's monthly magazine Loco Journal, which was also published on the ASLEF website.

At the outset of the case Deputy Judge Richard Parkes QC accepted the argument of Adrian Davies (for Mr Brady) that the Loco News article bore a defamatory meaning and that not all of its readers were covered by qualified privilege, though as far as the website version of the article was concerned he accepted the argument of Jonathan Crystal (for Mr Norman) that there was insufficient evidence of readers outside the union's ranks having read the online articles concerned.

Though Mr Norman had published an apology in Loco News and conceded that there were untruths in the article concerned, he denied that these untruths were defamatory and refused an offer to settle the case for £9,500.

The jury accepted Adrian Davies's submissions that the article was indeed seriously defamatory and awarded Mr Brady £30,000 in damages.