High profile comedian Freddie Starr has lost his recent High Court slander and libel action against Ms Karin Ward whose allegations centred around the fact that he had groped her when she was aged 15, amongst other less severe allegations. Following the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to prosecute under criminal law, Starr issued a civil defamation claim against Ms Ward in September 2013.
Ms Ward had been interviewed by the BBC in November 2011 and subsequently by ITV in October 2012. She had also published an ebook in which similar comments were made. In the BBC interview she had not referred to the comedian directly by name whereas in the ITV interview she had. In the ebook she had alluded to the Claimant as “F” and further stated that he had encouraged girls to drink alcohol.
The comedian denied the claims in their entirety and sought damages for slander and libel. In respect of the BBC words and broadcast, the claim had been issued outside of the strict 12 month time limit for defamation cases and although Starr attempted to extend the limitation period under section 32A of the Limitation Act 1980, he was unsuccessful in doing so. The Defendant was found not liable for any consequential loss caused by the BBC broadcast. Consideration was also given to the fact that Ms Ward had deliberately not named the Claimant.
In respect of the ITV words and broadcast, the judge found that on the evidence at play, the Defendant’s account was true and therefore the claims based upon the ITV words and broadcast failed. True statements are a defence to defamation.
The claim relating to the ebook comments also failed because the Defendant had illustrated that, assuming that the reader could recognise the Claimant as being “F”, some of the allegations were true. Although Ms Ward had not proved the entirety of the allegations to be true, it was found that the Claimant’s reputation could not have been found to have been materially damaged because of the truth of the remaining charges. The publication was held to be insignificant and there was found to be minimal damage to the Claimant’s reputation. Mr Starr decided not to attend court for the ruling and will now be forced to pay costs of around £1 million in respect of the failed action.
If you feel someone has made a defamatory statement about you or would like any further advice in relation to libel or slander then please do not hesitate to get in contact with one of our Specialist Defamation Solicitors who will be able to speak to you in further detail about the grounds for making a successful claim. Call 0845 287 0939, or email us today.