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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 >> Rufus v Elliott  EWHC 807 (QB) (24 March 2015)
Cite as:  EWHC 807 (QB)
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QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| RICHARD RUFUS
|- and -
David Price QC (of David Price Solicitors and Advocates) for the Defendant
Hearing date: 19 March 2015
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Warby :
"Today Paul Elliott CBE has resigned from his position as a Kick It Out trustee.
He has released the following statement to clarify this decision:
'Earlier this week, a former friend and business colleague, made public a SMS text message I sent him, in which I used a term which is widely known as being derogatory to my own community.
I regret using it; it is inappropriate and not part of my everyday vocabulary. As an advocate of high standards of public behaviour, and integrity in public life, I know the use of this word sends out mixed messages and contradicts my position as a Kick It Out trustee.
I will continue to be active in other projects in what I believe to be a true and just cause.'
Kick It Out extends its thanks to Paul for the key role he has played over the past 20 years, through his distinguished unpaid work, loyalty and devotion in helping the campaign in all areas of its work. His commitment to the aims and objectives of Kick It Out has inspired others everywhere."
MY APPROACH TO THE ISSUE
"the court should give the article the natural and ordinary meaning which it would have conveyed to the ordinary reasonable reader reading the article once. Hypothetical reasonable readers should not be treated as either naive or unduly suspicious. They should be treated as being capable of reading between the lines and engaging in some loose thinking, but not as being avid for scandal. The court should avoid an over-elaborate analysis of the article, because an ordinary reader would not analyse the article as a lawyer or accountant would analyse documents or accounts. Judges should have regard to the impression the article has made upon them themselves in considering what impact it would have made on the hypothetical reasonable reader. The court should certainly not take a too literal approach to its task."
This passage refers to an article, but the same principles apply to any published statement.
The meaning of the Press Release
(i) The innuendo facts
WAS THE PRESS RELEASE DEFAMATORY OF MR RUFUS?
"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 would be likely to affect a person adversely in the estimation of reasonable people generally."
Application of principles