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Libel landmark: Fair comment now 'honest comment'

The fair comment defence has been strengthened as the burden of proof required of publishers is redu

An obscure libel dispute between a booking agency and a covers band has resulted in the Supreme Court issuing a ruling today that significantly enhances the fair comment defence for the internet age, renaming it "honest comment".

Current UK libel law states that the defence of fair comment in libel cases relates to "honestly held opinion based on provable facts". But according to David Price, the defence lawyer in the case, today's ruling reduces the emphasis on publishers to prove the facts upon which their comment is made.

The case arose after the members of musical act The Gillettes signed up with Jason Spiller and 1311 Events in 2004. Spiller dropped The Gillettes (Craig and Jason Joseph) after a dispute over bookings, and posted the following statement online:

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Dominic Ponsford is editor of Press Gazette