Bruno Lachaux awarded £50,000 in libel damages from Independent Print Limited

Bruno Lachaux awarded £50,000 in libel damages from Independent Print Limited
Bruno Lachaux, an aerospace engineer has been awarded £50,000 in compensation from Independent Print Limited after it published unverified claims he had (amongst other things) abused his ex-wife, which have since been determined by the High Court to be false.

Bruno Lachaux, an aerospace engineer has been awarded £50,000 in compensation from Independent Print Limited after it published unverified claims he had (amongst other things) abused his ex-wife, which have since been determined by the High Court to be false.

Bruno Lachaux, a French national who lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sued after stories were published in the Evening Standard, O Independente e a i newspapers between January 20 and February 10 2014.

In summary, the articles complained of were held to have meant that Mr Lachaux had been violent and abusive towards his wife, Afsana Lachaux, during their marriage, had hidden their son Louis’s passport to stop her removing him from the UAE, had made use of UAE law and the UAE courts to deprive her of custody and contact with her son, had callously and without justification taken Louis out of her possession, and then falsely accused her of abducting him.

Mr Lachaux strenuously denied all the allegations and sued for libel, claiming that in fact Mrs Lachaux had been violent towards him.

The two publishers – Evening Standard Limited and Independent Print Limited – argued the articles were not defamatory because they did not causeserious harmto Mr Lachaux’s reputation.

The issue of serious harm reached the Supreme Court which found in 2019 that the threshold had been met in this case.

The newspaper publishers had also previously defended the articles as true but dropped the defence several months after a separate High Court judge rejected allegations Mrs Lachaux was a victim of abuse or violence from Mr Lachaux in a family court case.

The two companies continued with the libel battle, defending the articles as being in the public interest, and in a judgment delivered on 1 julho 2021, Mr Justice Nicklin rejected the newspapers’ defences of public interest and ruled in favour of Mr Lachaux.

Mr Justice Nicklin said the Independent’s coverage featured aserious failure (de) basic journalistic good practiceby also failing to contact Mr Lachaux.

Ele disse: “The allegations made by O Independente article against the claimant were very grave. The harm to the Claimant arising from publication was both serious and obvious.”

Judged objectively, the source of the allegations, Afsana, was known to be locked in litigation with the claimant, her estranged spouse, and was facing, according to the article, charges of kidnapping.

“Pelo menos, there was an obvious risk that she had an axe to grind.

The judge said none of the people involved in publishing the Independent’s story took any steps to verify the allegations.

Evening Standard Limited, the publisher of the London daily paper, has been ordered to pay £70,000, while Independent Print Limited, publisher of O Independente article and the former publisher of the i, was ordered to pay £50,000 in damages.

The judge also awarded an injunction requiring the removal of the articles complained of and restraining the Defendants from further publishing any words that bear the meanings found by the Court or substantially the same meanings.

Mr Lachaux said he feltlike a pawn in a game being played by the Defendants”, stating that the articles cameas a severe blow to me in my dignity and in my capacity as a father and a husband, especially given all the efforts I had made over a period of years to be reunited physically and legally with Louis after Afsana disappeared with him”.

Following the ruling, Mr Lachaux will have received a total of £160,000 in compensation, having previously settled with the publisher of the Huffington Post for £40,000 in damages in relation to a similar article.

Having regard to the seriousness of the allegations, the extent of publication and the purposes of an award of damages in libel proceedings, I am satisfied that this is a just and proportionate sum for the claimant to receive by way of compensation,” Mr Justice Nicklin concluded.

The full judgment of Mr Justice Nicklin can be accessed aqui.

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