Failing to amend an online article.

Flood v Times Newspapers Ltd [2012] UKSC 11

An interesting aspect to this case is the difficulties organisations may now encounter when failing to amend online articles when circumstances change. The second limb of appeal in this case was against the finding that the Times had libelled Mr Flood by leaving its original unamended article accessible to the public for a significant period of time after he had been exonerated.

DS Flood sued over the original publication in the newspaper and because the Times had taken no steps to amend or remove the article from its online archive after it had been made aware that the allegations were not true. In relation to its failure to remove or amend the online article after the allegations had been discredited the Times argued that it had only not done so because DS Flood had failed to agree a reasonable form of words.

These could not have been the product of responsible journalism because the article was not amended to reflect that Mr Flood had been cleared of the charges made against him.   The Court of Appeal upheld its decision in this regard.

“If the original publication of the allegations made against DS Flood in the article on the website had been, as the Judge thought, responsible journalism, once the Report’s conclusions were available, any responsible journalist would appreciate that those allegations required speedy withdrawal or modification. Despite this, nothing was done.”

It is thought that the Times has sought to withdraw the second limb of the appeal from the Supreme court.

If the Supreme court doesn’t hear the appeal then it will mean that that organisations will have to take great care to ensure that articles are amended or withdrawn and will have to be subject to constant review.

For advice as to Defamation call Carruthers Law today or fill in one of our enquiry forms.

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