Defamation Act: A Different Interpretation
Submitted by Grenville Phillips II
Under this act, anyone who revealed genuine cases of corruption, with incontrovertible evidence, could be found guilty of defamation and punished accordingly. However, the Act protects politicians if they talked about it in parliament*
I will say it again, Grenville needs a legal advisor, and not only to serve as AG in any unlikely Cabinet of his. If there is incontrovertible evidence of the imputation made, the defense of justification will absolve any defendant in a defamation action, And there are defenses even to criminal libel-
he defence of comment and the defence of privilege (whether absolute or qualified) shall extend to a prosecution for criminal libel as they respectively extend to an action for defamation.
I note that Jeff Cumberbatch is querying my understanding of the Defamation Act, which has led David to cast aspersions on my motives. Please note that I am offering myself only once more to the public as a politician, and I will not tarnish my reputation by lying to the public. Let me try to engage Jeff in an honest discussion.
I claimed that the act was cleverly written to allow a person, who is speaking the truth about an allegation of corruption, to be charged with defamation. Jeff disagrees. So Jeff, let us present and discuss evidence rather than make disparaging remarks.
1. Defence of Truth
I refer to sections 7.1 and 7.2.
- (1) The defence in relation to an action for libel or slander known before the commencement of this Act as the defence of justification shall, in relation to any action for defamation brought after the commencement of this Act, be known as the defence of truth.
(2) Where an action for defamation has been brought in respect of the whole or any part of matter published, the defendant may allege and prove the truth of any of the charges contained in such matter and the defence of truth shall be held to be established if such matter, taken as a whole, does not materially injure the plaintiff’s reputation having regard to any such charges which are proved to be true in whole or in part.
My interpretation is that someone accused of defamation for, say, accusing someone of corruption, may use a defence of truth. (7.1) However, the defence of truth supported with incontrovertible evidence may not work if the plaintiff’s reputation is materially injured (7.2).
I am suggesting that by not allowing truth to be a absolute defence, a loophole has been introduced in the Act to find people, with truth on their side, guilty of defamation. Jeff, do you have another interpretation.
2. Qualified Privilege
I refer to sections 11.1 and 12.
- (1) Subject to this section, the publication of any report or matter referred to in the First Schedule shall be protected by qualified privilege.
The defence of qualified privilege shall be defeated if the plaintiff proves that the defendant in making the publication complained of was actuated by malice.
My interpretation is that if, for example, an allegation of corruption with incontrovertible evidence was made at a public meeting (First Schedule 12.1), then its publication is protected by qualified privilege. However, the defence of qualified privilege can be defeated if the publication was found to be actuated by malice.
I am suggesting that by allowing malice to trump truth, a loophole has been introduced in the Act to find people, with truth on their side, guilty of defamation. Jeff, do you have another interpretation.