The libel claim brought by London businessman David Hunt against the Sunday Times shows that cliché’s concerning London ‘gangsters’ may often be more than simply cliché’s, they may actually be defamatory.
The claim bought by Mr Hunt concerns an article written and published by the Sunday Times that referred to him as head of a huge criminal network, insinuating his involvement in murder, drug trafficking and fraud and of being a close friend of notorious East End gangster Reggie Kray. Readers perusing the original Sunday Times article may have considered this to be an article full of clichés, maybe even a parody, given that Mr Hunt is a businessman and entrepreneur, involved in running a land and property business: for those of you that have ever watched The Sopranos, you will instantly understand what I am referring to here. But Mr Hunt’s position is that he is a legitimate businessman, and therefore he is taking steps via libel proceedings to protect his hard fought reputation, which he considers he was robbed of by the Sunday Times. In fact he describes the Sunday Times article as ‘crucifying him’, a word that is not used lightly when describing newspaper articles.
The Sunday Times appears to be fighting an uphill battle to be able to defend its position, especially since it claims that Mr Hunt is such a ‘Mr Big’ that even Scotland Yard did not want to take him on. This then poses the question, if indeed Mr Hunt is SO big and the Flying Squad want no part of him, how is a newspaper, with limited resources going to justify its position?
Much has been written in recent years about so called London ‘gangster’ families, but Mr Hunt’s claim, which may be the most expensive libel claim every fought in London, shows that legitimate businessman will not allow cliché’s and stereotypes to be placed at their front door, without taking action to recover their reputations, just as Mr Hunt is doing here.
Pinder Reaux & Associates