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  1. #1
    Mid
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    Lord Triesman cannot be sued for libel by Thai official, court of appeal rules

    Lord Triesman cannot be sued for libel by Thai official, court of appeal rules
    Owen Bowcott
    Thursday 27 February 2014

    Judgment expands freedom of expression beyond conventional limits of parliament and avoids 'chilling effect' on free speech


    The libel allegation stems from Lord Triesman's appearance before the culture, media and sport select committee in 2011.
    Photograph: Jamie Wiseman/Associated New/Rex

    Lord Triesman, the former chairman of the Football Association, cannot be sued for libel by a Thai official, the appeal court has ruled, in a judgment that significantly expands freedom of expression beyond the traditional limits of parliament.

    The unanimous decision by three senior judges relies on the ancient immunity granted to speakers under article 9 of the bill of rights 1689, which protects MPs and peers' proceedings from being "questioned in any court or place outside of parliament".

    The Thai official, Dato Worwawi Makudi, the head of Thailand's football federation, had attempted to sue Triesman for defamation following the peer's appearance before the culture, media and sport select committee in May 2011.

    The lawsuit, if allowed to continue, would have created a "substantial chilling effect" on free speech in parliament and affected the ability of witnesses to give evidence to select committees, lawyers for John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, had warned judges in a 10-page submission during the case.

    Triesman alleged that Makudi had demanded the television rights to a proposed Thailand-England friendly in exchange for supporting England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Makudi told reporters the accusations were "not true and groundless", saying he had to speak out "because my reputation has been tarnished and it defames my family".

    Triesman's comments led to the Dingemans inquiry being set up by the FA, to which Triesman gave evidence later the same month. In those hearings Triesman, a Labour peer, referred back to his evidence given to the select committee but did not repeat or expand on the allegations.

    Delivering judgment on Wednesday, the court of appeal acknowledged that the central question was whether subsequent references outside parliament were protected from Makudi's libel claim by the force of article 9 of the bill of rights. Article 9 states that "the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside of parliament".

    Lord Justice Laws said: "Not all such repetitions are the gratuitous choice of the Speaker. There will be occasions when it will be in the public interest that he should repeat or refer to his earlier utterance in parliament.

    "And it may be a public interest which he ought reasonably to serve, because of his knowledge or expertise as a parliamentarian, or an expectation or promise (arising from what he had said in parliament) that he would do so. In those circumstances it is by no means obvious that his later speech should lack the protection of article 9.

    "I accept … that there may be instances where the protection of article 9 indeed extends to extra-parliamentary speech." Protection, he suggested, should be given where comments are made for "a public interest in repetition of the parliamentary utterance which the speaker ought reasonably to serve" and where there is a connection between the occasions of "his speaking in and then out of parliament … is reasonably foreseeable at the time of the first and his purpose in speaking on both occasions is the same or very closely related".

    Each occasion would have to be considered individually, he added. "The notion of public interest is not, I acknowledge, sharp-edged. Nor is the category of cases in which a member of parliament or witness ought reasonably to serve such a public interest. As always, the common law will proceed case by case."

    Referring to Triesman's appearance at the inquiry, Laws said: "There was plainly a public interest in Mr Dingemans's inquiry, which would be served by the respondent's contribution. Equally plainly, there was a close nexus between his evidence to the [select committee] and his interview with Mr Dingemans.

    "The prospect that he might be called on to repeat his allegations was not only reasonably foreseeable but actually foreseen: he undertook, in effect, to do so … In my judgment, article 9 prohibits an examination in this action of the respondent's assertions to Mr Dingemans."

    theguardian.com

  2. #2
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    harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Triesman is an idiot for not recording the conversation, he could have made him look a right prat.

  3. #3
    euston has flown

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    They do seem to routinely forget that their fantasy world stops once they get off that TG flight and start that long walk up to immigration, but as they say thai no understand forang

  4. #4
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    "Dato" is a Malay title, and the name does not sound at all Thai either.

    Patrick

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    Worawi?.... we have two in our company

  6. #6
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    "Makudi had demanded the television rights to a proposed Thailand-England friendly"- as in for himself, personally? That takes some balls.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcock View Post
    Worawi?.... we have two in our company
    You misread - it's not "Worawi" it's "Dato Worwawi Makudi" - neither name is Thai.

    Patrick

  8. #8
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    Worwawi Makudi is a member of the Thai Muslim minority.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat Bobcock's Avatar
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    I did..... I've always read his name as Worawi.

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