The Tory Energy Minister, who habitually accuses men of “mansplaining” when they get the better of her on television, has now been accused of “shouting and swearing” at civil servants, it seems.
And of course she accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism on the BBC’s Question Time on November 15.
The BBC failed to screen the offending words out of its broadcast of the debate, meaning it is also guilty of libelling Mr Corbyn. If the outburst had been cut, Ms Perry would still have been guilty of slander, as the many members of the studio audience would still have heard it.
And what excuse has the BBC given?
None that is any good. In fact, the BBC has dithered.
According to Skwawkbox, the BBC stated: “David Dimbleby ensured that Labour frontbencher spokesperson and close ally of Mr Corbyn, Barry Gardiner MP, was given the opportunity to challenge the comments made by Claire Perry MP, which he did.”
That’s neither here nor there because it is not a defence against a libel accusation.
And the available defences aren’t applicable here. They include:
Truth – obviously, as the claim is not true, this defence is not available.
Honest opinion – this needs to be based on fact so, again, this defence is not available.
Public interest – this covers situations in which the information is false but may not seem so at the time to the person accused of defamation, and that they had a duty to report it before going into the process of verifying the information. It can be used by someone who finds themselves in a position in which it seems a necessity, either moral, legal, or social, to impart certain information to another who has an interest. But it is public knowledge that all the accusations of anti-Semitism raised against Mr Corbyn so far have been proved false, and there is no public interest in repeating false claims, nor is there any moral, legal or social necessity to do so.
Absolute privilege – this would allow complete freedom of speech but is only available in certain situations and a TV show is not one of them.
Innocent dissemination – this is not available to the author of a defamatory statement but is for innocent parties such as Internet Service Providers who act as a medium through which potentially libellous material may be published but had no knowledge that what they published was defamatory, had no reason to believe that the material would contain libel, and had not been negligent in this lack of knowledge.
It seems Ms Perry may soon face punishment by Parliamentary authorities for breaching the ministerial code, which says relationship with civil servants should be “proper and appropriate”.
But she could be joined in court by the producer(s) of BBC Question Time.
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