Cassidy v Daily Mirror Newspapers Ltd [1929] 2 KB 331

Libel; husband and wife; statement for per se defamatory

(226 words)

Facts

The claimant was known as the lawfully wedded wife of a famous race-horse owner and former General of the Mexican Army. The claimant and her husband lived separately but he often visited her at her workplace. The defendant newspaper published a photograph of the claimant’s husband with a woman labelled as Miss X, to whom – as alleged by the attached article – he was engaged.

Issue

The claimant argued that the publication caused damage to her in that it was intended to imply that her husband was living with her immorally. The defendants denied any such intention and even the possibility of their publication having such a meaning. The defendants refused to admit, even after seeing evidence thereof, that the claimant was married to the subject of the publication. The trial judge found that in the circumstances of this case, the publication could be seen as having a defamatory meaning. He directed the jury that what mattered was the perception of the reasonably minded person who knew the circumstances of the case. The jury found in favour of the claimant.

Held

The Court of Appeal held, affirming the lower court’s decision, that the publication in question was capable of constituting defamation. It found that the jury was right to find that the publication made the reasonably minded person believe that the claimant’s moral character was questionable.