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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions >> Gillick v British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) & Anor  EWCA Civ 46 (19 October 1995)
Cite as:  EWCA Civ 46,  EMLR 267
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COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)
ON APPEAL FROM THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Sir Michael Davies
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London WC2
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE EVANS
LORD JUSTICE MILLETT
| VICTORIA GILLICK
|BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION
Telephone No: 0171 404 7464 Official Shorthand Writers to the Court
The Respondent appeared in person.
Crown Copyright ©
"I think it has done a very good job. It has done a job that nobody else has been doing in quite the same way. Teenage pregnancies have gone down since the Brook opened. And there is a much more ... There is an atmosphere now where people talk much more about contraception and where young people know that they can go and get the kind of help and advice that they need in the Brook Centres. ... It is because the Family Planning Service doesn't really cater for young people as much as it could. In 1974 the DHSS did recommend that the Family Planning Service operated special sessions for youngsters and ten years later only 42% of them had that, so they don't really offer the same kind of atmosphere and the same focus on youth and youth's problems that the Brook does."
"Total disaster. If they were running clinics trying to reduce levels of alcoholism or drug taking amongst the young and after twenty years there was ... had been 100,000 drug addicts registered, you would say 'they've failed'. Well in the last ... since 1975 there has been 100,000 school girl pregnancies of which 55,000 ended in abortion. Now if the Brook has had any part of that and they have, then they should have been drummed out of business long ago, because that is a failed policy by anybody's standards.
Now we are licking our wounds as you might say from the permissive society and the Brook is looking a bit sheepish because it has been promoting it. It actually could convince people like Sue here, that it has helped reduce the number of pregnancies. They reduced, after I won that battle in 1984, from 1985 onwards it had begun to reduce because the number of girls going to the Brook clinics is still well down and to the 30,000 other G.P.'s in this country-was still down."
"But after you won that battle in 1974 there were at least two reported cases of suicide by girls who were pregnant."
"Oh no, that's a libel. That's a libel."
(1) The court should give to the material complained of the natural and ordinary meaning which it would have conveyed to the ordinary reasonable viewer watching the programme once.
(2) The hypothetical reasonable reader (or viewer) is not naive but he is not unduly suspicious. He can read between the lines. He can read in an implication more readily than a lawyer and may indulge in a certain amount of loose thinking. But he must be treated as being a man who is not avid for scandal and someone who does not, and should not, select one bad meaning where other non-defamatory meanings are available.
(3) While limiting its attention to what the defendant has actually said or written the court should be cautious of an over-elaborate analysis of the material in issue.
(4) A television audience would not give the programme the analytical attention of a lawyer to the meaning of a document, an auditor to the interpretation of accounts, or an academic to the content of a learned article.
(5) In deciding what impression the material complained of would have been likely to have on the hypothetical reasonable viewer the court are entitled (if not bound) to have regard to the impression it made on them.
(6) The Court should not be too literal in its approach.
(7) A statement should be taken to be defamatory if it would tend to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally, or be likely to affect a person adversely in the estimation of reasonable people generally.
"But after you won that battle in 1974 (sic) there were at least two reported cases of suicide by girls who were pregnant."
"Oh no, that's a libel. That's a libel."
Order: appeal dismissed with costs.