‘Free comment on private lives under the Defamation Bill’? – Gavin Phillipson « Inforrm’s Blog

… where speech is primarily concerned with a critique of someone’s private life, it will generally be seen as of decisively lower value, easily outweighed by reputational or privacy interests. Defamation law should recognise this by requiring that defamatory comments should be on a matter of public interest in order to attract protection under the ‘honest comment’ defence. This would ensure that both defamation and privacy law continue to develop in a harmonious way that answer to the relevant Article 8 and 10 values. Otherwise the result will merely be complex litigation in which newspapers seek to use ‘comment’ as a way of dragging peoples’ personal lives into disrepute in circumstances where to make the <em>factual</em> allegations that could justify the opinion would clearly incur liability under&nbsp; the tort of misuse of private information. Encouraging the publication of derogatory opinions about people’s private lives, where the relevant facts cannot be published without liability, is scarcely an aim that is in harmony with Article 8 – or indeed Article 10.

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