Chris Packham CBE is the presenter of Springwatch and naturalist with a passion for the environment. Mr Packham was accused of misleading people to donate to a tiger rescue charity. The allegations regarded Mr Packham being dishonest on many counts and these are expressed by the Squire Magazine across nine articles, ten social media posts and two videos. There were over 100 articles in total that mentioned Mr Packham. This blog will discuss the law regarding defamation and what you can do if you or your business is being defamed.
What is defamation? Defamation is where one person makes a statement about another person and that statement causes damage to the other person.
Libellous defamation is a type of defamation which is conducted through a permanent form of communication, such as the articles published by Squire Magazine or posts on social media..
The most essential part to proving defamation is proving that the statement caused reputational harm. Where there is reputational damage shown, then the courts will award damages for this as well as any financial losses suffered by the defamed party caused by the defamation. An example would be if a business lost a contract as a result of defamation.
In this instance Mr Packham was able to show that the statement made by Squire Magazines caused harm to his reputation.
There are a defences to defamation, and the weeklong trial started with the authors behind the posts and articles using the defence of truth. In terms of defamation, truth can be and absolute defence. Squire Magazine stated what they had said in their articles was true, however, the court determined that the Defendant’s “failed to even come close to establishing the substantial truth”. Therefore, the judge that the defendants were slanderous and their actions “were not the product of any acts of responsible journalism”.
Mr Packham stated that the defendants at Squire Magazine’s claims had “misled, agitated and fuelled a vocal and violent conspiratorial fringe who increasingly post threatening and vile material about [him] and [his] family”. Defamation can be a career-damaging wrong that you or your business maybe faced with. Where you have had something said or written about you and this has caused you harm, such as losing a key contract or losing your job, then you may have the ability to claim defamation.
We have handled a number of these situations for our clients, including one where our client’s competitor was spreading untrue rumours about our client’s business practices, with a view to winning our client’s customers for themselves.
If you think that you or your business has been defamed and you are under significant distress and there is damage to either reputation and would like some advice, please feel free to get in touch with us by telephone 01273 447 065, or click here to fill out an enquiry form.