Last week, The Economist posted an extremely grim article about how England's libel laws make it easy to silence critics even if what they say is true. It's the inevitable result of local hazards: laws long ago crafted to serve the wealthy; the overwhelming cost of responding to legal claims; the need for a counterweight to a malignant and malicious tabloid press; and a toxic internal culture at specific firms which have learned no-one has the political capital to restrain them.
Some lawsuits there, though, are such obvious wastes of time that even with those advantages it is to no avail. Sir James Dyson yesterday lost his libel claim against The Daily Mirror, which had published an opinion article mocking the billionaire inventor as a hypocrite for supporting Brexit in the name of bringing economic opportunity home then moving offices to Singapore: "talk the talk but then screw your country and if anyone complains, tell them to suck it up," the author wrote.
Dyson claimed this was "a personal attack on all that I have done and achieved in my lifetime and is highly distressing and hurtful," but the Mirror claimed it was honest opinion reflecting the truth of what Dyson did, and the court agreed with it after a two-day trial.
Adrienne Page KC, for MGN, said the words in the article were "substantially correct" and that Sir James could not dictate how the commentator posed them. Following the decision, an MGN spokesperson said: "We welcome today's judgment which upholds the rights of our columnists to share honestly held opinions, even about powerful or wealthy individuals."
"Enjoy failure and learn from it." — James Dyson.