Phone Hacking: Fewer U.K. Defamation Lawsuits Amid Leveson Inquiry

The number of cases has dropped to a three-year low amid the probe into media standards that was launched in reaction to the News Corp. hacking scandal.


LONDON - The number of defamation lawsuits heard in the U.K. dropped 15 percent during the 12 months period ended May amid the Leveson Inquiry into media standards and ethics that was launched on the heels of the phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

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The Financial Times reported the figure of 71 cases, as compiled by Sweet & Maxwell, saying that this caseload fell to its lowest point in at least three years.

Traditional media companies have faced just 27 lawsuits, a five-year low, according to the FT.

“Public scrutiny following the eruption of the phone-hacking scandal is leading to a lower appetite for risk for some media outlets,” Korieh Duodu, a media lawyer at David Price Solicitors, told the FT. That “will mean a more conciliatory, less controversial approach and fewer defamation cases."

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The report also said that high-profile individuals in the U.K. are increasingly turning to privacy law rather than defamation lawsuits. Privacy injunctions keep news articles from being published, even if true.

The Leveson Inquiry is scheduled to publish its final report, including recommendations to the British government, in October.

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