Law Provisions for Journalists Facing Defamation Cases Essay

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Law Provisions for Journalists Facing Defamation Cases The law of defamation exists to protect both the moral and professional reputation of the individual from unjustified attacks. The law tries to strike a balance between freedom of speech and a free press with the protection of an individual's reputation. Should journalists face defamation cases there are defences available. Justification is one of these defences, to use this defence the journalist must prove that what they have written is substantially true. Before the defamation act of 1952 was passed, to succeed with a defence of justification you had to prove the exact truth of every defamatory statement made in the article in question.…show more content…
The police officer used as a witness claimed he had seen the couple. This example also demonstrates another point that journalists should be aware of, to ensure their witnesses are prepared to give evidence. It is often the case that their account of events stands for more than the defendants ie. the journalist. A plea of justification can also be difficult when reporting on investigations. It is obviously defamatory to report that somebody is guilty of an offence, or to report an accusation made by a third party. The only way a journalist can defend themselves is to prove the person committed the offence (exception to this are reporting a court case, a police statement, or the report is covered by privilege). If the journalist has reported that a person is suspected of being guilty then they need to prove there are 'reasonable grounds' for suspicion. An example of this is the Elaine Chase v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2002] EWCA case. The Sun Newspaper tried to show there were reasonable grounds for suspicion after publishing a story headlined 'Nurse is probed over 18 deaths'. The police had been investigating the fact that a number of terminally ill children treated by one particular nurse had died. The police concluded there were no grounds to suspect the nurse but this was after The Sun had published their report. They paid £100,000 damages. Section 6,
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