Frankie Boyle is not a Racist – As decided by the High Court

Following on from my previous article about Frankie Boyle’s libel case against the Daily Mirror, the recent judgment pronounced by Mr Justice Eady at the High Court is exactly what we at Pinder Reaux, thought it would be. The Daily Mirror failed to convince the Court that Mr Boyle was a racist comedian, among other claims.

Saying that, the specialist defamation solicitors that the Daily Mirror retained used a very interesting tactic to try and prove their point beyond reasonable doubt. They showed the jurors during the trial numerous jokes from programs such as Mock the Week and Tramadol Nights, in which Mr Boyle had used racist language, and ergo attempted to rely on his usage of racist language in his jokes as a legal bridge to claim that he is (or could well be) a racist comedian. At the same stroke, Mr Boyle’s team of specialist defamation solicitors brought in several witnesses, including (and perhaps most importantly) the production editor of Mock the Week who came out in support of Mr Boyle’s claim, that he used racist language in jokes to make a point about the attitudes of society generally, thereby unraveling the work done by the Daily Mirror’s specialist defamation team.

After the jury had found in Mr Boyle’s favour on the issue of liability, the matter of damages was then turned to. The Daily Mirror’s specialist defamation barrister argued that Mr Boyle should be awarded no more than 45p in damages, being the cost of a copy of the Daily Mirror. The jury disagreed, and Mr Boyle was awarded a sum believed to be in excess of £50,000.00, along with an undisclosed sum in respect of his legal costs.

As I said in my previous article, the defences relied upon by the Daily Mirror would have been difficult to succeed upon. We at Pinder Reaux consider that a large reason for this was because the racist claim is so clear and apparent in the minds of the public, as to who and what we consider to be racist and what denotes being a racist/racist behaviour. There is no doubt that specialist defamation solicitors, like us here at Pinder Reaux, would have made similar arguments to succeed in this case, but taking a global view of the matter, the jury would have had to have been shown some seriously compelling evidence to find that Mr Boyle was a racist. This lack of evidence was a downfall of the defence of honest comment/truth that the Daily Mirror sought to rely upon.

John Spyrou

Head of Internet and Media Law @ Pinder Reaux

Pinder Reaux & Associates