Daily Telegraph apologises to Sedley LJ over defamatory allegations

The Daily Telegraph is to issue a formal apology to Lord Justice Sedley over a series of “professionally damaging” allegations which appeared in the paper last year.

It is extremely rare for a judge to launch libel proceedings, but this is the second time Sedley LJ has secured a newspaper apology. In 1996 The Independent was forced to public apologise to the then-High Court judge after it accused him of being politically partisan.

In this latest case, Sedley LJ instructed Bindmans partner Tamsin Allen to launch libel proceedings over an article about a case he presided over.

Allen is one of a handful of claimant media lawyers who is bringing actions against the Metropolitan Police in relation to the News of the World phone hacking claims (20 September 2010).  She instructed 5RB’s Desmond Browne QC, a former Bar Council chairman, to lead the case.

David Price Solicitors & Advocates named partner David Price, who was one of two solicitor advocates to be awarded silk last week, appeared for the Telegraph Media Group.

The story concerned a complaint made by a litigant to the Office for Judicial Complaints about a case he presided over. The complaint was dismissed in January, but the newspaper published a story under the headline: ‘Judge ’hastened deaths of elderly’.

Browne told Mrs Justice Sharpe, presiding, that the “Daily Telegraph’s article repeated, and so placed in the public domain, a series of allegations derived from the complaint which were so professionally damaging that it became necessary to commence proceedings so as to make the truth known by way of an agreed statement in open court.

“To that end, the Daily Telegraph is here today to make it clear that the allegations to which it gave currency were wholly without foundation.”

The newspaper, he said, never sought to suggest that such allegations were true, but has agreed to publish an apology

“It will also be paying Lord Justice Sedley’s legal costs and making a charitable donation in lieu of damages,” Browne said.