Appeal court to hear ‘libellous’ review case

If you haven’t already sued your critics it might be too late.. As Henry McDonald reports in the Observer, the Irish News have brought out the big guns for their appeal against the widely reported ‘libellous’ review of Belfast’s Goodfellas restaurant by food critic Caroline Workman in August 2000. According to the report“Lord Lester QC, one of the architects of the UK government’s Human Rights Act, will lead the appeal for the Belfast paper.” The Court of Appeal is expected to hear the case on Wednesday. And Roy Greenslade today points back to a New York Times article on the legal challenges faced by reviewers.. and his previous response.

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  • austin

    Pains me to say it but I hope the rich and powerful (err… The Irish News) beat the humble pizza-producing ex-taxi man.

    An unfortunate legacy of this case has been that all subsequent restaurant and pub reviews in the local papers have been boringly anodyne and sycophantic a la The Ulster Tatler-a bit like the rest of the paper, really

    Amazingly, none of our intrepid reviewers have since frequented any dubious local establishment where the grub has been below par after the former Black Hack driver stung the Vaticans Times for the big cabbage.

    Winners Dinners? More like Grub Spy sponsored by Claims Direct…

  • Oiliféar

    Anybody have a link to the original article?

  • Rory

    This from the New York Times article linked above:

    “American juries feel the same way, said Charles L. Babcock, a Dallas lawyer who defended The Morning News in the suit brought by Il Mulino, a restaurant there that has since closed.

    “Juries just are absolutely skeptical of claims about restaurant reviews,” Mr. Babcock said. “They believe it’s just classic opinion.”

    Pity, one might think, that Belfast juries did not share the same healthy scepticism.

    However I am not so sure that, as Austin feels, the spectacle of none other than gushing or anodyne reviews in your local press may be related to any self-censorship arising from the fearful consequences of the jury’s verdict against the Irish News. I do not recall in all my years of reading local press reviews in a multiplicity of constituencies ever once coming across a negative one whether of a restuarant or the launch of the latest runaround from Hatchbacki or whatever. I have no reason to think that such positive reviews are in any way influenced by the paid for advertising copy that tends to accompany them other than some occasions when I had the misfortune to believe them and actually dined in some God awful shiteholes which sported framed copies of the glowing reviews in their windows, like seedy, faded front-of-door strippers luring unwary punters into a Soho joint to be fleeced.

    I indeed find it astounding that any jury composed of people with all but the slightest experience of reading a newspaper and of dining out could have found as it did unless of course those that composed the jury membership already held an inbuilt if unexpressed hostility to what they believed the Irish News stood for and choose to punish them for that. But this we have no way of determining and must rely upon our own healthy scepticism.

    Let us pray that those who hear the appeal have a measured amount of such scepticism themselves.

  • Eddie

    So, Lord Lester who is the main adviser for the English Government on “Human Rights”, and is also the Legal adviser for the BBC, is now representing the Irish News (who owns this paper now?).

    Seems the Irish News might not be so Irish any more.