Daily Mail Libel Reality
While the Legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and two of his colleagues at Associated Newspapers, which runs the Daily Mail, have been pursuing Byline Media over stories that appear to clearly meet a public interest test - they concern the use by the Mail titles of information which had been obtained illegally - the Mail is not so keen to tell the world that it has just lost two libel actions, and that there was no public interest in the story whatever.
The Press Gazette headline, “Woman who painted Kensington house with red-stripes wins £54k libel damages from Daily Mail”, only hints at the legal mess that the Mail got itself into. The article tells us more: “The businesswoman who painted her Kensington townhouse in red and white stripes has won £54,000 libel damages over allegations that she mistreated her late husband’s son and his family over inheritance claims”.
Do go on. “Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring had sued Associated Newspapers over two articles which appeared in April 2015 … They wrongly repeated allegations made by Robert Lisle, her late husband’s son, and his second wife, Sally, that Lisle-Mainwaring unreasonably denied them money that they claimed had been promised to them and was properly due to them”. No public interest justification - and there is yet more.
This was not the first time that Ms Lisle-Mainwaring had been forced to take the Dacre doggie to the cleaners. Just over a year ago, Press Gazettetold its readers “Daily Mail apologises and pays damages to woman who painted red stripes on front of Kensington townhouse”. A rather similar headline. “Businesswoman Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring brought High Court proceedings over two articles which appeared in April last year”.
There was more: “On Monday, she accepted an undisclosed sum in damages, which she will donate to charity, her legal costs and an unreserved apology from Associated Newspapers”. The Mail saying sorry? That must have hurt. So why two claims? “She has separately lodged a claim against Associated Newspapers for ‘harassment’ over its coverage of her and for breach of copyright over its reproduction of watercolours and paintings”. And what of the offending articles? You’ll love this one.
“It subsequently removed both articles in their entirety and had undertaken not to publish similar allegations in future”. That, too, will have hurt. And what part did sham press regulator IPSO play in all of this? Well, sadly, it tried the usual trick of wiping the Mail’s backside: “Mail Online has escaped censure from the press watchdog after the woman who painted her London townhouse in red-and-white stripes accused it of harassment”.
Ms Lisle-Mainwaring had tried the IPSO route for that harassment claim. IPSO batted her claim away, and so she “has also launched a legal action against the Mail Online claiming harassment”. There is a lesson here for all those claiming IPSO is an effective press regulator, and that the Mail adheres to the highest standards of journalistic probity.
Ms Lisle-Mainwaring only achieved a satisfactory outcome by taking the Dacre doggies to the cleaners. As she donated her damages to charity in both the cases settled by the Mail, it is clear that she has the means to defend herself from press misbehaviour.
Compare and contrast with the Mail’s attitude to those who do not have such means. And remember these cases the next time the paper talks loftily of its high standards.