Latest 'Cash for Access' ruling - Court of Appeal clarifies test for malicious falsehood

Latest 'Cash for Access' ruling - Court of Appeal clarifies test for malicious falsehood
Oliver Murphy, an associate at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, says taking into account that the appeal in Cruddas v Calvert turned on its facts rather than any substantive legal issue, the reduction in damages was substantial and a good result for the defendants.

What is the background to this case?

This appeal results from an undercover operation during which two journalists approached the claimant (the treasurer of the Conservative Party), under the guise of international financiers who wanted to discuss the possibility of making large donations to the Conservative Party, and the possible benefits that could flow from those donations. As a result of the meeting, the two journalists wrote three articles which appeared in the Sunday Times on 25 March 2012 along with a further article not written by the journalists but commenting on the issues raised.

The claimant claimed that the articles had three meanings. Broadly the first meaning concerned ‘cash for access’ matters and the second and third meanings concerned allegations of unlawful foreign donations.

On an expedited appeal on meaning the interpretation of the first of the meanings was held to suggest the claimant’s actions were ‘inappropriate, unacceptable and wrong’ rather than being criminal. The second and third meanings were held to mean that the claimant had shown himself willing to commit a criminal offence.

On what grounds did the defendants bring an appeal?

At first instance Mr Justice Tugendhat found in favour of the claimant and awarded damages of £180,000. It was held that the defendants had failed to justify any of the three meanings. In addition, Tugendhat J found that the defendants were liable for malicious falsehood in relation to the meanings attributed to the articles. Specifically, in relation to the first ‘cash for access’ meaning, Tugendhat J found that even though the articles did not mean that the claimant engaged in criminal conduct, a cynical reader could understand the first meaning as connoting criminal conduct. In

Subscription Form

Related Articles:
Latest Articles:

Already a subscriber? Login
RELX (UK) Limited, trading as LexisNexis, and our LexisNexis Legal & Professional group companies will contact you to confirm your email address. You can manage your communication preferences via our Preference Centre. You can learn more about how we handle your personal data and your rights by reviewing our  Privacy Policy.

Access this article and thousands of others like it free by subscribing to our blog.

Read full article

Already a subscriber? Login

About the author: