Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sorry we said you raped a 14-year-old

The natural father of Peter Connelly (Baby P) has been awarded substantial damages after The People accused him of being a sex offender who had been convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl.

MediaGuardian reports:

Mr Justice Bean ordered Mirror Group Newspapers, publisher of the People, to pay an initial £30,000 in damages plus costs of £35,000. The damages payout will rise to £75,000 if the publisher loses permission to take the ruling to the court of appeal.

The allegations were contained in two paragraphs in a crime supplement in the People about Baby P's mother, who had separated from the child's father, referred to in court as KC. They appeared in a 19 September 2010 article headed "Tortured to death as mum turned a blind eye"...

Bean said in his written judgment: "It is difficult to think of any charge more calculated to lead to the revulsion and condemnation of a person's fellow citizens than the rape of a 14-year-old girl."

KC said in his witness statement that he was "shocked and upset beyond words" by the false libel, which he first learned about in phone calls from close friends.

The judge said the appropriate starting point for the damages was £150,000. But he reduced this by half, to £75,000 because Mirror Group Newspapers moved swiftly to apologise and correct the error.

The Independent added:

Heather Rogers QC, appearing for MGN [Mirror Group Newspapers], told the High Court hearing: "This was a mistake that MGN regrets and it has apologised to the claimant, and I repeat that apology on its behalf in this court."

However, she denied KC had been badly treated, or that MGN had conducted any kind of "campaign" against him, or dismissed his legitimate complaint.

Today, Ms Rogers argued that MGN should be allowed to appeal on the grounds that the compensation order was too high and "disproportionate". 

1 comment:

  1. I find it hard to imagine the contempt which the Mirror holds for society in trying to claim that the modest damages awarded against it are too high. I find it remarkable that their counsel agreed to make this claim.


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