Chapter 21 Guidance on answering the end-of-chapter problem questions
We assume that each of the statements is capable of grounding a prima facie case of defamation. The main defences that might be argued for are as follows: Regarding the allegation that Jodril has ‘squandered money’, this looks like it could attract a defence of either truth or qualified privilege. The defence of truth (Defamation Act 2013, s 2) would work only if the defendant were able to prove the truth of the specific charge: Edwards v Bell. It appears that Donny is a current councillor and his statement made in the council chamber would attract a qualified privilege in that there is both duty and interest in the making/receiving of the statement about the use of council funds: see Horrocks v Lowe. Regarding Lily’s statement about Jodril, this would seem to be gratuitous and not a matter of either public interest (Defamation Act 2013, s 4) or qualified privilege. Her statement implying that Jodril has committed a crime would have to be proven true (as above). Regarding the chanting of the demonstrators that Lily Lamour has committed a crime, again the allegations (which are not very specific) would have to be proven true. We have been given no facts which would suggest that either Jodril or Lily has committed a crime – and further facts would be required.