Parliament may be key to Guardian deadlock

MOVING The Guardian's cash-for-questions libel action to Parliament could be a “very intelligent” solution to current problems involved in staging the trial in the High Court, a leading libel lawyer says.

The libel case revolves around an action against the newspaper by Tory MP Neil Hamilton and political lobbyist Ian Greer.

Anthony Julius, head of litigation at Mischon De Reya, says moves by senior MPs to get the Commons Committee of Privileges to restart proceedings in Parliament could resolve the court's difficulties with trying the case, which was halted on the grounds that parliamentary privilege prevented the newspaper from mounting a proper defence.

But he says if the case is moved parties would have to agree on reasonable sanctions. The committee still retains the right to send people to the Tower of London.

“It could be a very intelligent solution to a problem which I don't think anybody anticipated at the time the writ was issued,” says Julius.

“If the newspaper is right, it's proper for it to demonstrate that it did get it right.

“If the MPs are right, then it's proper that they should be given the opportunity to prove that they were defamed,” adds Julius.

“The litigation should be relocated to a forum which does permit the litigating of the issue. It's almost a procedural point.”