Saturday, 22 May 2010

Independent on Sunday pays libel damages for defamatory headline

The writer Zoe Margolis has won 'substantial' libel damages from the Independent on Sunday after they falsely called her a 'hooker' in a 7 March headline.

As if to add insult to injury, the headline accompanied an article written by Margolis in which she criticised 'stigma and stereotypes' and 'old-fashioned, sexist views on female sexuality'. Her spokesman explained her point was:

'that if you are a woman, writing about sex openly, it is very likely you will be labelled with negative terminology'.

The IoS changed the headline the day it appeared, but did not publish an apology until five days later:

We accept that Ms Margolis is not and never has been “a hooker” or otherwise involved in the sex industry.

The wording of the headline was a mistake and seriously defamatory of Ms Margolis.

A press release on Margolis' blog, posted on Thursday, said:

The resulting effect of this libel was immeasurable, and Ms. Margolis was forced to issue legal proceedings against Independent News & Media Ltd.

These proceedings have now come to a conclusion and substantial damages have been offered to Ms. Margolis for the distress and impact to her reputation, both personal and professional, that this libel caused.

In court, the Independent's lawyer said:

'We sincerely apologise for the distress and embarrassment this headline caused. It was untrue and should never have been published.'

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