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Telegraph libel win – Political speech relevant to determining defamatory meaning

DPSA has successfully defended the Daily Telegraph in a libel action brought by Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters UK which runs the anti-violence project Tell Mama. The claim related to an article written by columnist Charles Moore that appeared in the comment section of the Daily Telegraph shortly after the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby last year. One of Mr Moore’s themes was that Islamist terrorism thrives in an environment where preferential treatment is given to those claiming to represent Muslims. Mr Moore also made criticisms of statistics generated by Tell Mama. Mr Mughal claimed that the article suggested he was a Muslim extremist, with more extreme views than members of the English Defence League, and a hypocrite.

On 7 May, Mr Justice Tugendhat determined the meaning of the words in the article and found that they did not bear any meaning defamatory of Mr Mughal. He accepted the submission of David Price QC that the words complained of did not identify Mr Mughal as a Muslim extremist and that the criticism of Mr Mughal only related to the statistics presented by Tell Mama.

The Judge accepted that the article constituted political speech and this was relevant in determining its meaning.

Links to the case papers below:

Claimant’s Skeleton Argument

Defendant’s Skeleton Argument

Judgment of Mr Justice Tugendhat