Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dancer's Libel Suit Against Daily Mail a Misstep, Court Rules

Daily MailImage via WikipediaFrom across the Pond comes a story from The Guardian concerning Strictly Come Dancing hoofer and lawyer Nancy Dell'Olio, 50, (the apostrophe is silent), who unsuccessfully sued Daily Mail parent Associated Newspapers, Ltd. for libel, claiming she was defamed in an article about her romantic involvement with thrice-married, 71-year-old theater director Sir Trevor Nunn.

Dell'Olio sued over an April 2011, Daily Mail article headlined "Return of the man-eater," claiming the article ignored the couple's mutual love of theater and each other by portraying her in a defamatory way as a "serial gold-digger." Associated Newspapers acknowledged the article was not a paean to Dell'Olio, but argued it fairly depicted the couple's mutual admiration, noted Nunn made the initial overtures to the plaintiff, and denied the piece defamed Dell'Olio.

Mr. Justice (Michael) Tugendhat of the High Court (not a Dr. Seuss creation) agreed with the daily, writing that although "man-eater" has a predatory connotation, it doesn't rise to the more actionable level of "serial gold-digger," which must be a great relief to grizzly bears and Great White sharks everywhere.  Not likely the plaintiff would have fared any better in the States, where the "fair comment" defense probably would have found the offending statements non-defamatory opinion.

Final tally--Daily Mail: 1, Dell'Olio: Nunn.

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1 comment:

  1. Still laughing as I type this. Interesting to have an English Justice making romantic distinctions. Thanks for the treat.