Goodman Derrick Act For Successful Appellant Stephen Lloyd MP

The Court of Appeal has handed down its judgment today in the long running defamation action brought by the former Conservative MP for Eastbourne, Nigel Waterson, against Stephen Lloyd MP, Liberal, and his election agent, Miss Rebecca Carr. 

Nigel Adams of Goodman Derrick LLP acted for Mr Lloyd and Miss Carr in their successful appeal.

The case concerns statements made in election leaflets issued by Mr Lloyd and Miss Carr in the run up to the General Election in 2010 – statements which criticised as “a scandal” certain aspects of Mr Waterson’s expenses claims which he made while he was in office.  Mr Waterson objected to the adverse characterisation of his expenses claims in the leaflets as he stated that his expenses claims were within Parliamentary rules.

The Court of Appeal was asked to consider and determine what the meaning of the words complained of by Mr Waterson was.  In robust fashion, two of the three Judges in the Court of Appeal which heard the case decided that use of the word or words “scandal” or “scandalous” in the election leaflets were expressions of comment and not of fact.  The Court recognised that, in connection with the MPs expenses scandal which hit the headlines in 2009, “…at the time, some did think that some claims to expenses, even within the law and the rules, were “scandalous””.

Nigel Adams commented:

“This is an important decision which supports a strong tradition of vigorous political campaigning in this country.  The decision also recognises that in seeking to strike a balance between free speech and protection of the individual, it is important not to lose sight of the context in which statements are made – in this case it was relevant that comments about a public figure, on a matter of public importance, were being made during an election campaign”.

If you require any further information about this important case please contact James Caulfield (jcaulfield@gdlaw.co.uk) on +44 (0)20 7421 7968 in the first instance.