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England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions >> Winslet v Associated Newspapers Ltd  EWHC 2735 (QB) (03 November 2009)
Cite as:  EWHC 2735 (QB),  EMLR 11
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QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| KATE WINSLET
|- and -
|ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS LIMITED
Mark Warby QC (instructed by Foot Anstey) for the Defendant
Hearing date: 20 October 2009
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Eady :
"1. The offer of amends is accepted.
2. The terms have yet to be agreed.
3. Our client reserves the right to make an application for a statement to be read in open court to vindicate our client if that cannot be agreed."
Thus the Claimant was confirming, as she had made clear throughout, that it was her intention, if the terms of an apology could not be agreed, to apply to the court for a unilateral statement to be read.
"It was Kate Winslet's normalcy that made us root for her and queue up to watch her films, that made her performances in her early movies, such as Sense and Sensibility, so believable and touching.
But then she caught a nasty dose of Hollywooditis.
But Kate? Surely she is more normal than most? Why would she give up that unique appeal, as vital to her success as Angelina Jolie's lips and hips are to hers, and give up that appeal so completely and utterly so that she has become, in my opinion, as drippy and as impossibly vain as the rest of them?
The signs were all there, brewing away, early on. Kate was, compared to most screen performers, curvy and normal looking, albeit with an open, handsome face that, as one female editor pointed out, 'is at once good-looking enough to convey great beauty, but relaxed enough for character roles'.
But like many women who dislike how they look, Kate made a big point of mentioning her size, over and over again, as if she were OK with it, which of course she wasn't.
I have always found that the more a (skinny) actress denies that she ever diets, that she eats like a horse, the reverse is true.
There is no way Kate despite her protestations the other day that 'As long as all of this is going on, I have stopped exercising and am eating whatever I want. That [exercise] has gone out of the window for now because I haven't got time what with awards ceremonies and film premieres', or that it is her Narciso Rodriguez gowns that nip her in and push her up in all the right places has not worked supremely, vomit-inducingly hard to get the figure she has today.
I can see the fact she has 'gone for the burn' etched on her woefully drawn features. She might say it is down to 20 minutes of gentle Pilates a day but, trust me, it ain't. I've done that amount of Pilates for years and I do not have anything approaching Ms Winslet's enviable muscle tone.
Ofcourse, I understand her insecurities, which are not her fault. As a sane (reasonably) adult woman I have stood next to these tiny Hollywood stars and wanted to kill myself. But it is this duplicitousness that enrages me and most other women I have spoken to.
Come on Kate, just be honest about how hard it is to be that size don't pretend that you are still normal.
The number of times Ms Winslet has appeared naked on screen (from early on in her career, in Jude through Hideous Kinky, Little Children and right up to her BAFTA-nominated performance in The Reader) tells me one thing: she is so proud of what she has achieved with her body that she is jolly well going to show it off.
Listen to what she said when she was complimented on her natural breasts by Oprah Winfrey, and her attitude to appearing naked by none other than Halle Berry. 'That is worth all the pain!'
If she were blasι about her body, why would there have been pain? "
Alongside the article there appeared a number of photographs of the Claimant's naked body, which were taken from films in which she had appeared over the years.
" that the Claimant had lied publicly about her exercise regime".
AN article on January 30 compared Miss Winslet's appearance with comments she made about having 'stopped exercising'. We accept that Miss Winslet was not being duplicitous in making her comments or seeking to deliberately mislead about her exercise regime. We apologise for any distress caused."
"The Claimant is a highly successful Oscar winning actress with a very high public profile in this jurisdiction and throughout the world.
The Defendant is the publisher of the Daily Mail, a newspaper with a daily circulation in the jurisdiction, in excess of 2.2 million and a significantly higher readership.
On 30 January 2009 the Defendant published on page 28 and 29 of the Daily Mail an article entitled "Should Kate Winslet win an Oscar for the World's most irritating actress?" which was accompanied by several naked photographs of the Claimant in various films.
The article falsely claimed that the Claimant had publicly lied about her exercise regime.
The Claimant has frequently asserted the right of women to accept the way that they look and by accusing her of trying to mislead the public, the Defendant caused her a great deal of distress. It was simply not true.
The article was also offensive in tone which caused the Claimant further upset and embarrassment, particularly when coupled with the gratuitous photographs.
The Claimant, through her solicitors, wrote to the Defendant and requested an apology. The Defendant refused to apologise so the Claimant issued proceedings for libel in March 2009.
In the face of those proceedings, the Defendant made an unqualified Offer of Amends, thereby accepting that the allegation was completely false and that it had no defence to the proceedings.
The Defendant published an apology on 4 September accepting that the Claimant had not been duplicitous in making her comments or seeking to deliberately mislead about her exercise regime.
The Defendant has also agreed to pay substantial damages to the Claimant and to pay her legal costs.
In these circumstances and this statement in court having been read out in Court, the Claimant considers that she has been fully vindicated, her reputation has been restored and accordingly is happy to bring these proceedings to a close.
My Lord, it only remains for me to ask for leave that the record be withdrawn."
I am unable to find anything in this draft that is inconsistent with the way she has pleaded or expressed her complaint from the outset.
(2) The party accepting the offer may not bring or continue proceedings in respect of the publication concerned against the person making the offer, but he is entitled to enforce the offer to make amends, as follows.
(3) If the parties agree on the steps to be taken in fulfilment of the offer, the aggrieved party may apply to the court for an order that the other party fulfil his offer by taking the steps agreed.
(4) If the parties do not agree on the steps to be taken by way of correction, apology and publication, the party who made the offer may take such steps as he thinks appropriate, and may in particular
(a) make the correction and apology by a statement in open court in terms approved by the court, and
(b) give an undertaking to the court as to the manner of their publication.
(5) If the parties do not agree on the amount to be paid by way of compensation, it shall be determined by the court on the same principles as damages in defamation proceedings.
The court shall take account of any steps taken in fulfilment of the offer and (so far as not agreed between the parties) of the suitability of the correction, the sufficiency of the apology and whether the manner of their publication was reasonable in the circumstances, and may reduce or increase the amount of compensation accordingly.
(6) If the parties do not agree on the amount to be paid by way of costs, it shall be determined by the court on the same principles as costs awarded in court proceedings.
(7) The acceptance of an offer by one person to make amends does not affect any cause of action against another person in respect of the same publication, subject as follows "
" it seems to me that an opportunity to make a statement in open court was thus seen more than 50 years ago as something which was an incident, or part of the available procedure, in a defamation action which the plaintiff was at least entitled to expect to be available to him, provided that the terms of the statement were approved by the judge and there was nothing in the case which made it unfair to another party to the statement to be made.
The present rule, RSC, Ord 82, r.5, which derives from the previous RSC, Ord 22, r.2 introduced in 1933, provides for the making of a statement in open court with the leave of the judge, both when there has been acceptance of money paid in and when the action is settled before trial without a payment into court.
The judge was right, in my view, to regard the settlement of proceedings as a public good which the court should encourage and facilitate if, having regard to the interests of all the parties, it is right and just so to do. Although a party has no right to make a statement in open court upon which he can insist if the circumstances are such that the judge cannot in his discretion approve that course, it seems to me that parties who have made a bona fide settlement of a defamation action and ask leave to make a statement in open court may expect to be allowed to do so unless some sufficient reason appears on the material before the judge why leave should be refused to them. By saying that he did not regard either party as having a burden of proof, while acknowledging that it is desirable for settlement to be facilitated, I think the judge meant, as he said, that he must have regard to the interests of all parties; but, if there is no sufficient reason to refuse it, a plaintiff who has reached a settlement with a defendant should be allowed to make an approved statement. I think the judge was right in his approach."
Ofcourse, the reference to the former Rules of the Supreme Court is now out of date, but I have already pointed out that the current rule is very broad in its terms and is intended to provide for the possibility of a statement in open court following any form of settlement in libel proceedings. It is equally clear that the public policy of encouraging and facilitating the settlement of proceedings is at least as important today as it was in 1986.
"Finally for the reasons already given, the opportunity to make a statement in open court is an incident of the court's procedure which parties who settle such an action can be expected to be allowed to use unless there is some sufficient reason to cause the court to refuse to approve that course."
It would be quite artificial to regard it as a continuation of the proceedings, in those circumstances, since continuation is the antithesis of settlement.