Two defamation stories from the Irish Times. The first concerns an interesting variation on the old defamtion saw, the sting of the libel:
… In the Language of Flowers – a Victorian invention by which tortured lovers and the like used to send coded messages – nettles signified “cruelty” or “slander”. So in a sense, Shakespeare’s Cordelia is defaming the symbol of defamation when she lumps nettles (in King Lear Act IV) with “cuckoo flow’rs, darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow in our sustaining corn”. …
The second concerns what seems like an important development in the defence of public interest publication:
Quinn Insurance Group has lost a High Court bid to strike out parts of the Sunday Tribune’s defence to forthcoming libel proceedings taken against it by the insurance company.
The libel action is over articles alleging the group recruited gardaí to approach solicitors to offer them bonuses on their fees to recommend reduced settlements to clients in cases against Quinn Direct.
Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne yesterday ruled the defendants had provided adequate details of its plea of justification for the article and also sufficiently set out the nature of the public interest being relied upon to justify the article. …
The Quinn Group says that it fully intends to “prosecute its case to conclusion”, so we may yet learn just how stinging the Sunday Tribune’s allegations are. The judgment is not yet available on Bailii or the Courts’ Service judgments’ database (the time it takes to get judgments onto these websites is a source of ongoing frustration for me, and for others), but as soon as it is, I’ll come back to it.