Friday, 16 August 2013

UK libel laws undermined journalists in Armstrong Case

Lisa O'Carrol explained in the Guardian how the UK libel regime made things very difficult for the Sunday paper:
"Lawyers involved in the 2004 case said the Sunday Times did not stand a chance once the courts decided they had to produce evidence that Armstrong was an actual cheat.

Gill Phillips, one of the Sunday Times lawyers who dealt with the litigation and now director of editorial legal services at Guardian News & Media, which publishes MediaGuardian, said: "The way British libel laws are, the burden of proof lay with the paper. We did not have enough evidence to satisfy the burden of proof on the paper to show Armstrong was guilty. We had this body of very strong, but mainly circumstantial, evidence that was quite hard, but which was not enough to win.

"This makes it very difficult for investigative journalism. For all sorts of technical reasons, UK libel law makes it hard to write this sort of story, particularly when the evidence points to guilt, but doesn't actually prove it."
Lisa in full here.

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