Dacre v Byline: Another Legal Letter from the Mail
David and Goliath: the Background
Over a month ago Byline Investigations began publishing articles about the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday using private investigator Steve Whittamore for two years AFTER his conviction for illegal blagging.
These articles were well researched, with evidence and statements to back them up:
Four weeks ago, when Byline responded to a reply from the Managing Editor's office with some more searching questions, we received a 'letter before action' demanding immediate removal of the first three articles and a public apology on our site and social media for 7 days.
We responded a few days later in some detail about accuracy and public interest.
We then proceeded to publish our planned fourth article analysing the Managing Editor's role.
We have many more articles on the #blaggingscandal which now extends to The Sun (no one can say we're just unfairly targeting the Mail!)
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Three Weeks On: Dacre's Response
Yesterday Byline received another letter from RPC, the lawyers for Paul Dacre, Liz Hartley and Peter Wright. It's marked URGENT but they've dropped the NOT FOR PUBLICATION warning.
As we promised, we will publish their correspondence in full for our readers and update you on our response to their demands very soon
Fax no:Our ref: LYJ/KAM/ASS7.1041 7 April 2017
Publication of defamatory allegations
Our clients: (1) Paul Dacre; (2) Liz Hartley; (3) Peter Wright
Thank you for your letter of 17 March 2017. We do not accept the arguments you make. The meaning of Byline’s articles is quite clear - it is that Byline is accusing our clients of deliberate suppression of evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.
Furthermore there is no public interest defence in circumstances in which Byline says it never intended to convey the meaning the articles obviously bear: Byline cannot therefore argue that it had any reasonable belief in the truth of what it published. Nor did Byline put that allegation to our clients (and did not put any allegations at all to Liz Hartley).
However we note that Byline has published our clients' Letter of Claim of 13 March 2017, which sets out the evidence which demonstrates that Byline’s allegations are untrue.
As we said in that letter, our clients believe passionately in freedom of expression, and respect Byline’s right to report on the matters covered in its articles.
However they cannot do so in a way which is inaccurate and defames our clients.
Our clients are therefore prepared to settle their claim if your client will give the following undertakings:
1. To continue to publish, with equal prominence to your client's original articles, and without amendment, our clients' Letter of Claim of 13 March.
2. To continue to publish, in the same position, same font and same red box, the statement currently published at the top of the articles originally published on 3rd, 4th and 7th March. With the first paragraph of that statement to remain unaltered and the second, third and fourth paragraphs to be deleted and replaced with a link to our clients’ letter of 13 March.
3. Not to repeat in further articles the allegations made in the articles that our clients deliberately suppressed evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.
If Byline agrees to this course of action our clients are prepared to waive any claim to damages or costs. Meanwhile they reserve all their rights.
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