I don’t intend second guessing Mr Justice Gillen’s reasons for refusing an injunction on Ian Paisley Junior’s leaflet (nor referring to the subject matter of Jim Allister’s complaint). The judge made it clear in the High Court yesterday that it was for others to decide whether the disputed section of the leaflet was defamatory, or not. But the tone of the judgement ran something like: didn’t you know there was an election on?
In my view electioneering statements should not be perused with all the precision of a jewellers scales. It is open to argument that the words complained of do not amount to an untrue statement of fact but are part and parcel of the political opinions that seem to have been the hallmark of the campaign to date between these two candidates.
In coming to this conclusion I am conscious of the need to ensure the free expression of opinion by those who put themselves into the democratic process for election by the population at large. I pause to observe again that I am far from ruling that these words may not be capable of defamatory meaning or that a jury may not come to a conclusion favourable to the plaintiff.
“I am not satisfied, however, that it is appropriate that an interlocutory injunction should be granted at this time and accordingly I refuse the plaintiffs application.
Be careful out there, I’ve just had to ban one long standing commenter for a breach of taste/the law…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty