"World's worst tennis pro" loses Telegraph libel case

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  • This is an excellent victory for the Daily Telegraph. Robert Dee essentially funded his tennis 'career' by suing newspapers.
    What happens to all those newspapers which settled? Will they have any come back? They should've had more balls in the first place...

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  • Does anybody have his contact details so I can arrange a game?

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  • Back in the 1980's I represented a show business client who was involved in a series of interlocutory applications in the Chancery Division of the High Court. We were in court against a party who proceeded to commit perjury in fabricating highly defamatory evidence which was then reported in almost all of the UK newspapers, i.e. in every UK national newspaper and most regionals. It took a vast effort on my part and a few more days to prove that what had been reported by newspapers here and across the world was malicious falsehood and 100 per cent libel.
    At this point the entire series of legal actions brought against my client collapsed when firm proof of perjury was discovered and the Attorney General was asked to investigate what had occurred. This all made front page news at the time and was on the main evening TV news. We then had an open and shut, totally proven case for libel which we could have brought against almost every newspaper in the UK, against the Press Association, the Court reporters et al. We actually only hit those responsible for creating the false evidence, which was read out in open court. At the time, a false transcript of an accurate letter was handed out to court reporters in court and reporters wrongly presumed that the transcript was accurate in that it was a true transcript of a lengthy letter, read out quickly in court by the other sides’ counsel. It wasn’t. The false transcript had been altered/created, with key words changed, to be defamatory. All reporters present had been duped and the ensuing story was so big that it spread worldwide and all of it was defamatory.
    We knew we could have behaved like this little known tennis player (although my client was a very famous “pop” star). However to do so would not have been “cricket” as the press had also been duped. We have a sense of fair play and behave decently. We could have sued every paper in Britain and many abroad and we would have succeeded in every case. Instead we only went for the most offensive, which was the “Daily Mirror” then owned by Robert Maxwell, who managed to get himself involved. I went on to force the “Daily Mirror” to print an apology.
    In the present case, this tennis player appears to have done the opposite to what we decided to do...and go for everyone. I think the “Telegraph” and the “Sunday Telegraph” are wonderfully edited, brilliant newspapers and I applaud their success in defending this particular case. Well done.

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  • Robert Dee : What a Turnip

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  • Anonymous guy who wrote the essay... you're a legend.

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  • I think Mrs Justice Sharp is entirely wrong in her conclusion that the Telegraph should not have to prove objectively what they have stated as fact. If I said for example, "Hull City are the worst football team in the premiership this year", when in fact they were only second or third from bottom, it would be an untrue and potentially defamatory statement, even though they'll still get relegated regardless....

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  • It is all quite clearly a game of high stakes poker that has spectacularly backfired in the face of who many more people now recognise as the 'worst tennis player in the world'.

    He thought that by going to expensive lawyers who would in turn begin racking up sizeable fees all on lucrative CFAs, that this big threatening bet would defeat all, as no defendant would want to bother with fighting a small claim, especially given the risk of a very hefty adverse costs order.

    No doubt prior to trial, stakes were raised higher by Addleshaw's instructing a QC and a Jnr to fight the world's worst tennis player's corner against a one-stop-shop lawyer defending the Daily Telegraph.

    Well done to the Daily Telegraph for calling the worst tennis player's bluff.

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  • The picture shows that his grip is very poor

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  • 54 matches in a row...haha

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  • If a litigator lost 54 cases in a row, he would (hopefully) be out of a job. If an F1 driver came last 54 times in a row, he would be out of a job. In either case one would hope they would realise their uselessness and 'seek new challenges'. How on earth is this numpty (please don't sue me) still playing on the pro circuit?!?!!!!

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  • I disgree - he's holding his racket with an Eastern Forehand Grip (as used by Tim Henman) or possibly a Semi-Western Grip (as used by Marat Safin).

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  • Clearly from Mr. Dee's record I ( 40 year old and slightly rotund) can give him for a game and possibly lengthen his long wait for a win. I cant understand why all the other newspapers could not stand up to Mr. Dee. Kudos to the Telegraph!
    May be Mr. Dee can stop playing professionaly (has he ever ?) and teach my kids how to play ... or may be not ...

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  • I expect when he said "I'll see you in court" the Telegraph didn't feel too threatened!

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  • @John Walton:


    It is not a question of fact. All they have to prove is that it was fair comment. I still think Hull City are the worst team in the premier league based on their poor team spirit, lack of style and poor results. Pompey, though they rank last are the better because thoguh they've been beset by bad luck and haven't done great in the premiership, keep battling on.

    Therefore it is fair comment to call Hull, in my opinion, the worst team on the premiership.

    This is apart from the related defence that calling something the "world's worst" is obviously journalistic hyperbole and no reasoanble person would think it an objective statistical assesment.

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  • Read all about it: "David slays Giant Goddard"

    City heavyweight contender K O'd by little guy firm armed only with a quit wit and a healthy contempt for the notion that bigger is better...

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  • He argued that the pleaded meaning was defamatory. It wasn't. It was true. But lurking in the small print of the long judgment is a meaning, not pleaded that the judge said WAS defamatory, but not pleaded. Despite the formidible and formidibly expensive legal team, did they miss a trick?

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  • His official website (second listing after googling 'Robert Dee') entitles him as a 'Pofessional' Tennis Player, with the main site giving up an entire section for his 'hall of fame' of retractions and apologies.

    Says it all really!

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  • To those posters on page 1 describing the gentleman as the 'world's worst tennis player', it should be pointed out that the judgement only supports the view that he is the 'world's worst tennis professional'. He's clearly not the world's worst tennis player by a long chalk. Oh dear, is that the sound of libel writs being drawn up...

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  • This is another excellent example of why libel actions are so ill-advised. No one had heard of Robert Dee before; now we all know him definitively as "the world's worst professional tennis player".

    Reminds me of China Airlines' attempts to cover up the fact that one of their planes had caught fire at Okinawa airport by the simple expedient of painting over the "China Airlines" logo on the fuselage. Now everyone in Asia remembers it as "that China Airlines accident where they painted over their logo"...

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  • To rogerfedererswaterbottle -

    Something of an insult to turnips, wouldn't you say?

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