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Any libel lawyers on here? Quick q

(14 Posts)
CountessDracula Wed 16-Jul-08 18:28:14

Without saying too much (and getting them into further hot water) someone I know has been involved in a publication that stated that someone was fat. (Which they were) (now dead)

Their family have complained and asked for an apology. Can they make a without prejudice apology without any admission of liability? Or something like that...

CountessDracula Wed 16-Jul-08 18:29:19

oh also it was a quote from someone who was misquoted (allegedly)

Freckle Wed 16-Jul-08 18:32:29

What are they supposed to be apologising for? For stating a fact or for upsetting the family?

FabioUnblogged Wed 16-Jul-08 18:33:58

I don't think the dead can litigate.

zippitippitoes Wed 16-Jul-08 18:34:21

if they were fat then it isnt libel is it?

zippitippitoes Wed 16-Jul-08 18:35:04

and yep you cant libel the dead can you

FabioUnblogged Wed 16-Jul-08 18:35:31

I mean, I think the person who has been libelled must bring about the prosecution, not their family.

PS. I am not a lawyer.

CountessDracula Wed 16-Jul-08 18:36:41

for upsetting the family I guess
Not sure really

They are worried if they apologise they will be deemed to have admitted liability and could be sued

CountessDracula Wed 16-Jul-08 18:36:58

So as soon as someone dies you can say what you like about them?

CountessDracula Wed 16-Jul-08 18:37:56

"You cannot libel the dead, although it is possible that a comment about someone no longer living may be libellous of that person’s relatives, colleagues or friends."

I have just found that

The family are all very fat too apparently

FabioUnblogged Wed 16-Jul-08 18:40:57

More or less, I think.
I'm sure there are precedents set - if you were the family of a famous children's author you wouldn't want accusations of paedophilia after their death as it would damage the family cash cow reputation.

But as I understand it you can say what you like once someone is dead, which is why Ian Hislop no longer holds back when it comes to Robert Maxwell.

Scootergrrrl Wed 16-Jul-08 18:42:32

It might also depend on whether the fatness was without question or a statement of opinion as truth is an absolute defence to libel.

The publication can't be sued for libel for saying a dead person is or was fat. They could be taken to the Press Complaints Commision for insensitivity, depending on the circumstances, but that's another issue.

If they want to apologise to get the family off their back, the time-honoured way is to apologise for upsetting the family, not for making the original comment, ie: "We are sorry if X-s family found our article stating that he/she was fat upsetting".... not "we are sorry we said X was fat". Am I making the distinction clear? (Has been a long day grin)

FabioUnblogged Wed 16-Jul-08 18:44:17

lol at the fat dead family

Did the chap eat himself to death?

Scootergrrrl Wed 16-Jul-08 18:46:18

UK libel law for idiots The website's title not mine!

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