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Charleston v News Group

[1995] 2 All ER 313

Case summary last updated at 17/01/2020 18:54 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Charleston v News Group

Ps were actors and D superimposed their heads onto a pornographic photo with the headline “Strewth! What's Harold up to with our Madge?” Underneath the photo was the caption "Soap Studs: Harold and Madge's faces are added to porn actors' bodies in a scene from the game". The game referred to a computer game where famous people’s heads are superimposed into porn scenes. Ps sued D for defamation. HL found for D, saying that the newspaper had stated that the depicted scenes were not really occurring between Ps. Two basic principles of the law of libel were that, where no innuendo was alleged, the natural and ordinary meaning of an allegedly defamatory publication was the meaning, including any inferential meaning, conveyed to the mind of the ordinary, reasonable and fair-minded reader and that the jury were required to determine the single meaning conveyed by the publication to the notional reasonable reader and base its verdict and damages on the assumption that the single meaning was the sense in which all readers would have understood it. A claim for libel could not be founded on a headline or photograph in isolation from the related text. Here, no ordinary reader would get the impression that Ps were really having sex. (Per Lord Bridge).

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