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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The right to sue a newspaper

Sarah Thornton describes her long legal ordeal -- and the dire implications for the future if currently debated legislation goes through.

Sarah T., the winner in a long-drawn-out case brought against the Daily Telegraph for publishing a hostile review by eminent journalist and Turner Prize judge Lynn Barber, describes the convoluted process in an article in today's Guardian.

"Last Tuesday, I won a court case, Thornton v The Telegraph, which gave me a detailed and personal perspective on these issues," she writes.  

"Back in 2008, Lynn Barber, an acclaimed journalist ­ indeed the winner of five British Press Awards ­ wrote a review of my book Seven Days in the Art World, which a judge has since found to contain a number of lies. Barber had made a major point of claiming that I had not interviewed her when, in fact, I had. She also claimed that I gave copy approval to my interviewees, which was untrue.

"Combined with a few other factual errors, the false allegations contributed to the irresistible inference that I was a charlatan who could not be trusted to tell the truth. I wrote to the Telegraph requesting that it correct the errors and was shocked when they refused. According to Mr Justice Tugendhat, Barber made "a deliberate decision to mislead" the Telegraph's lawyers. As a result, the falsehoods lingered online, causing me all sorts of problems, and I was forced to seek legal representation to
clear my name."

For the whole of her candid and fascinating account of how she obtained legal representation and managed to clear her name without losing every penny, read on.

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