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Defamation Claim: Waterson v Stephen Lloyd MP & Anor [2011] EWHC 3197 (QB)

January 3, 2012

Waterson v Stephen Lloyd MP & Anor [2011] EWHC 3197 (QB)

Mr Waterson who was then M.P for Eastbourne brought a libel claim against his opponent Lloyd a Liberal Democrat.This defamation claim involved the distribution of news letters during the general election campaign of 2010. Mr. Waterson was the M.P. until he lost the election in 2010 to his opponent Mr. Lloyd. He also brought a claim against Mr. Lloyd’s agent Ms. Carr.

The two newsletters which looked like newspapers, one was called “The Sussex Courier” and referred to Mr. Waterson as an “Expenses Scandal” M.P.

The other was called “Eastbourne and Willingdon Express” made a similar allegation under the heading “Nigel Waterson’s Role of Shame”.

In just four years it alleged he claimed £70,000 for his family home 60 miles away in Kent. What the article failed to mention was that the expenses had been investigated and had been held to be above board.

The Judge Tugendhat J, had to decide on two issues

  • Whether the statements were allegations of fact or expressions of opinion, and consequently should judgment be entered for Claimants or Defendants.
  • What the actual single meaning of the statements was.

The judge found for Waterson. He said that the articles where allegations of fact against him and that the meaning was that the former M.P. was guilty of abusing the M.P.’s expenses system for his own advantage.

The judge stated that it would have been possible for the defendants to run an article as to the M.P.’s expenses and those claimed by Mr. Waterson but they would have had to say that they were lawful but it was still wrong for him to claim them.

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