Grâce à la liberté dans les communications, des groupes d’hommes de même nature pourront se réunir et fonder des communautés. Les nations seront dépassées.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Fragments posthumes XIII-883)

08 - MAR 19 - The Express Group case

 

La rapide capitulation de Express Group face aux menaces d'assignation pour diffamation des MC résulta du constat, par les avocats du groupe, que les assertions publiées étaient indéfendables devant une cour de justice. La charge de la preuve, en Common Law, reposant sur le défendeur, le groupe aurait dû prouver que les suggestions d'implication des MC dans la mort ou la vente de leur enfant, entre autres, étaient fondées. Les jours où les procès en diffamation valaient des millions (en 1988 The Sun avait dû verser 1 million de livres à Elton John et publier à la une "Sorry Elton" à la suite de 17 articles homophobes) ne sont plus et 250 mille livres est considéré comme un maximum en cas de diffamation sérieuse. Les MC étant deux, on pouvait s'attendre à ce qu'ils obtiennent ce que le groupe paya finalement, 275 mille livres. Mais le groupe économisa d'énormes frais de justice, car outre les coûts prévisibles, Carter-Ruck aurait fait payer très cher au groupe le succès de ses clients,
selon l'accord no-win no-fee,. Les journaux qui acceptent rapidement de faire une "offre gagé d'amendement", autrement dit de publier rectifications et excuses et de payer des indemnités, sont en droit d'attendre une remise pouvant aller jusqu'à 50% de la valeur attribuée à la diffamation en cause. Mais Carter-Ruck argumenta que Express Group ne pouvait compter sur une remise, les articles ayant été publiés avec la notion juridique de "malice", c'est-à-dire en sachant que les faits allégués étaient faux ou en manifestant une indifférence irréfléchie vis-à-vis de la vérité.


Rapide (3'), mais lucratif 
19.03.2008 - SkyNew


Sitting in Court 13 of the High Court, the press benches are packed. The clerk opens the jury box to make room for more.
The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell arrives. Lawyers shuffle along the benches. Papers are arranged and re-arranged. Silence descends.
"All rise," calls the court clerk.
The Judge Mr Justice Eady enters, bespectacled and robed, he takes his place at the bench.
The case of McCann and McCann versus Express Newspapers is called.

Adam Tudor - solicitor advocate for the McCanns - stands up.
"My Lord, in this action I appear for the claimants, Gerry and Kate McCann.
"From the late summer of 2007 until February 2008, the defendant newspapers published over one hundred articles which were seriously defamatory of Mr and Mrs McCann.
"The general theme of the articles was to suggest that Mr and Mrs McCann were responsible for the death of Madeleine or that there were strong or reasonable grounds for so suspecting and that they had then disposed of her body, and that they had then conspired to cover up their actions, including by creating "diversions" to divert the police's attention away from evidence which would expose their guilt."
"Naturally, the repeated publication of these utterly false and defamatory allegations has caused untold distress to Mr and Mrs McCann.
"Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of a more serious allegation than to be falsely accused of being responsible for the death of one's own daughter."
Mr Mitchell sits quietly with head bowed at the front of the court throughout.

Stephen Bacon - counsel for the defendant - stands.
"My Lord," he begins, "on behalf of the defendant, I confirm all that my friend has said."
He goes on: "Express Newspapers regrets publishing these extremely serious, yet baseless, allegations concerning Mr and Mrs McCann over a sustained period of what will already have been an enormously distressing time for them, and at a time when they have been trying to focus on finding their daughter.
"They profoundly regret the distress which these publications will have caused to Mr and Mrs McCann.
"I confirm that Express Newspapers has agreed to make a substantial contribution to the Madeleine Fund, which we hope will assist in continuing the search for her."

Standing for the final time, the McCanns' solicitor says: "My Lord, in all these circumstances Mr and Mrs McCanns' object in bringing these proceedings has been achieved."
The judge nodded. The case was finished. The court moved on to other business.
The whole process took less than three minutes.