Donovan v The Face

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Last modified: 07/03/18 Author: In-house law team

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Donovan v The Face [1992] (Unreported)

Libel; newspaper

(167 words)

Facts

The claimant, Jason Donovan, was a successful singer. In the early 1990s, the magazine called The Face published an article alleging that Mr Donovan was homosexual.

Issue

Mr Donovan argued that, as he had always presented himself as straight, The Face magazine committed libel by alleging that he had deceived the public about his sexual orientation. In other words, the issue in this case was not whether calling someone gay was capable of being a defamatory statement – it is safe to say that no modern would find such a statement defamatory in itself. The issue was rather that the claimant was labelled a liar or a hypocrite by presenting himself as heterosexual when, in the magazine’s opinion, he was in fact gay.

Held

The Court found in favour of the claimant and accepted his argument that, by calling him gay, the defendant magazine caused him to be seen as a liar for posing as straight. The claimant was thus able to establish a case for libel.

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