Critically discuss the role of defamation law as guardian of the truth, focussing on the inaccurate reporting, which led to The Sun newspaper publishing a front-page article, headlined “The Truth? on 19th April 1989. Defamation law safeguards an individual’s rights against a defamatory statement that cause public contempt, hatred, or ridicule. In Britain, the law of defamation is divided into two distinct sections; slander and libel. Slander is defamation in the transient form while libel is found in permanent from such as newspaper articles, online articles, or pictures.
The law does not recognise the deceased as claimant even when represented by their relatives. Defamatory law can be found in almost all jurisdictions in the world. the most importantly, most defamation laws in the world borrows heavily form English defamation laws. The intention of these laws is to seek a fair and just balance between the freedom of speech and protection of individual privacy and reputation. Defamation law has been most pronounced in the British media industry. While it has influences the media both in a positive and negative ways, journalists are now more cautious about what they write.
On the other hand, celebrities and other public personalities are now very concerned of what is being written about them. For Instance, Geoldof Peaches sued the Daily Star tabloid for damages after the paper alleged that she practiced prostitution at night. Geldoff complained to Press Complain Commission about the allegations that had a potential of damaging her colourful career. The Daily Star publishers on their part agreed that their story on Geldof lacked accuracy and was damaging to her reputation. Defamatory cases by media have often led to massive outcry. Immediately fter the Hillsborough Disaster, the Sun sensationally published a story with its infamous headline ‘‘The Truth’’. This story angered many people in England and especially Liverpool fans given that it appeared four days after the disaster. Nevertheless, what irked most people is the refusal by The Sun to offer an apology even after it emerged that its story was inaccurate. As a sign of protest, residents of Merseyside have boycotted the paper for the 23 years. The Sun story alleged that the some fans had tried to steal from the crushed victims while others urinated on the members of the police and emergency services.
This story angered Liverpool fans and victims’ relatives. The writer of this story refused to apologize and only did so after an independent commission had established the truth. However, the apology came 23 years after the tragedy. Concerning defamation law, it is evident that The Star had broken the law. It had published a story that was defamatory to Liverpool fans. By accusing the fans of stealing from their dead colleague was insensitive and malicious. Again, the claim that the fans urinated on the members of emergency services was defamatory. This story portrayed Liverpool fans as insensitive and inhuman.
It further cast aspersions on the character of the fans. As a result, the disaster was blamed on football hooligan when the actual cause was police ineffectiveness. However, Sun was ordered to apologize after it became evident that their story was founded on hearsay and lies. Although some Liverpool fans did not accept the apology, the apology was in good faith. In defamation cases, journalists and media owners hold the view they are exercising their freedom of speech as per the law. Members of the Index on Censorship safeguards laws regarding slander and libel in Britain.
Nowadays, the Media is supposed to substantiate claims especially those that border on defamation or character assassination. PART 2 Explain what football specific legislation was introduced in the years after the disaster to help combat football hooliganism Football hooliganism has been a challenge all over the world. British football has experienced numerous disasters where acts of hooliganism have led to deaths and injuries of many fans. The Hillsborough Disaster that led death of 96 football fans changed the future of British football. After the isaster happened, the press blamed it football hooliganism. Nevertheless, an independent commission of inquiry revealed that the disaster was not caused by hooliganism, but rather crowd control. After the Hillsborough disaster, the British government enacted government enacted a raft of legislation to combat crowd control, terrorism, and hooliganism. The Football Spectators Act(1989), Football Disorder Act(1989), Football Offences Act (1991), Football Act (1999), Football Disorder Act (2000) and most recently Football Disorder Bill (2001) was enacted by the British authorities.
These pieces of legislation are aimed at addressing cases of hooliganism and terrorism in football grounds. The offences covered by these legislations includes, entering a srtadium while drunk or in possession of alcohol, possession of alcohol on public transport while travelling to a football match, entering a football pitch without lawful permission, throwing of objects while in a football stadium, racist chants, indecent language and ticket taunting. Under the law, a person convicted of a football related offence receives a football banning order.
This prohibits an offender from attending football matches either at home or abroad for a period of not less than three years. A violation of this order is considered a criminal offence. The government maintains a register for banned persons. The government also created a body, Football Intelligence Unit that is charged with dissemination of information and intelligence regarding domestic and international issues that occur during football matches. Under the new safety regulations, each football club is required have a safety certificate.
Safety certificate is awarded to a football club by local authorities after an inspection of the stadium reveals that it meets minimum safety requirements. On match days, each football club is allocated a Safety Officer who assists the facility management to carve out safety strategies for a given match. Again, Safety Officers recruit and train all stewards.  Analyse the effectiveness of the legislation introduced and discuss whether the measures are justified Various legislations have led to reduced incidents of football disasters that can be attributed to hooliganism or crowd control.
After the Hillsborough disaster, the number of fans attending football matches declined significantly. Many football fans and especially the aged and women avoided live matches and opted to watch matches on TV. The revenues collected as gate fees declined. The Football Association and the Government decided to enact stringent laws in order to save football clubs from filing for bankruptcy. After enactment of stringent laws, the number of football fans attending matches increased. By 1995, the number of spectators in football stadiums had reached an average of 45 million per month as compared to 10 million in 1990.
In their report, the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) observed that the number of arrests for Football hooliganism had declined. The 2007 report indicated that only 8% matches were affected by hooliganism compared to 28% in 1987. This report also demonstrated that violence inside stadiums was now uncommon. However, violence shifted to other places such as pubs, bus stations and train stations where intelligence was unaware of the happenings. On the other hand, the Football Supporter’s Association (FSA) believed that football hooliganism had declined.
There is a consensus among key stakeholders that significant gains have been realized in the fight against football hooliganism. This is also corroborated by NCIS statistics on football hooliganism. However, the new legislations bear all the hallmarks of a panic reaction. Imposing a travel ban on a person convicted of football related offences was unfair and retrogressive. The legislations banned anyone convicted of football hooliganism from travelling overseas every time an international match was taking place. This constituted a breach of civil liberties.
The legislations required the courts to prohibit people who had been convicted of football related offences using the civil standard of balance of probabilities. Again, the law required the police to prevent suspected hooligans form attending international matches. This therefore denies the affected person the right to free travel. Notwithstanding restricting a fundamental liberty based on a low standard of evidence. It is regrettable that the framers of the new legislations ignored other measures that would have addressed the problem of hooliganism without violating basic human rights.
Ordinarily, most people involved with English hooliganism overseas are deported instantly at the scene of crime, but are never charged thereafter. For example, of the over 900 English hooligans deported from Belgium in May 2000, only 24 faced charges and travel ban. The right measure is to ensure that all hooligans are prosecuted. This can be done either at the places where the offences were committed, or even on their return home. However, the government needs to formulate a law that would allow prosecution of hooligans who commit offences outside Britain.
Similar laws have allowed have enabled prosecution of persons who have committed crimes while abroad. For example, the sexual offences law passed in 2000 that allows the government to prosecute sexual offender who committed sexual offences overseas. Hooliganism usually happens at public places and in the presence of media. Therefore, it is not difficult to gather evidence as one can use media footage to nil the suspects. Furthermore, the spotters sent by British police overseas to assist foreign police may also help in identifying hooligans.
Football teams have a role to play in combating hooliganism. At times, the clubs have not been so vocal in their condemnation of hooliganism. This sends the wrong message to other fans thus damaging the reputation of the club. Other than act of violence ad racist chanting, football clubs should also encourage their fans to respect foreign anthems. Any signs of violence should not be ignored. Fans who engage in anti social behaviour, which may disturb peace both inside and outside a football stadium, should be kicked out and prosecuted.
Part 3 | | Explain what criminal prosecutions have arisen or may now be brought following the Independent Hillsborough Panel Report and highlight the difficulties that are involved in bringing criminal prosecutions in respect of the Hillsborough Disaster The Independent Hillsborough Panel Report (IHPR) blamed police officers for negligence. The report recommended prosecution of the police officers involved. Contrary to media reports, the disaster was not due to football hooliganism but rather failure by police to control crowds.
Among the police to be investigated, include Sir Norman, Bettison, Chief Constable Leslie Sharp, Chief Superintendent Don Denton, and Chief Superintendent Terry Wain. Sir Norman was accused of having played role in deflecting blame from the police. according to IHPR, Sir Norman prepared a video that presented the police version of events. This video was aimed at concealing the truth. Furthermore, Sir Norman is accused of trying to influence the West Yorkshire Police Authority’s decision regarding Hillsborough allegations. Chief Constable Leslie Sharp was accused of failing to carry out his responsibilities.
Leslie was supposed to investigate Mr. Wright, then head of South Yorkshire force. He failed to carry out an impartial investigation and instead demonstrated open favouritism to Mr. Wright. This was discovered in a letter that Sharp wrote to Wright indicating that he did not intend to investigate him. The report therefore found Leslie Sharp culpable of trying to shield Wright from prosecution. Don Denton and Terry Wain were accused of giving instructions to the officers on duty to avoid entering duty statements in their notebooks.
Other than the three officers, the report also called for action to be taken against the following organizations Sheffield Council, South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield FC and the Football Association. The report recommended for corporate manslaughter. The prosecution of all parties may present legal challenges. Sir Norman, Bettison, Chief Constable Leslie Sharp, Chief Superintendent Don Denton, and Chief Superintendent Terry Wain may argue that they were not working on their own behalf, but from South York Shire Police.
As such, the party to be prosecuted on their behalf is South Yorkshire Police. on the same breadth, prosecuting organizations such as the FA, Sheffield FC and Sheffield Council raises key legal challenges as to what law would apply. As at the time of the disaster, the new law of Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide had not been enacted. This means the case would rely on the old common law of gross negligence manslaughter. Under the old law, it was a challenge to prove that a corporation could have a capacity to act with a guilty mind.
For example, an organization cools not intend to commit crime just as individuals can. Borrowing from a precedent case of Tesco v Nattrass, the judge argued that for a successful prosecution of an organization for corporate manslaughter, an individual must be found to have acted as the controlling mind of the organization and the same individual must be found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter. In Tesco v Nattrass case, it became impossible to prove that in large companies, any one individual could be singled out as controlling mind of the organization.
This case presented a huge legal challenge for the prosecutors. Eventually, the court of appeal ruled that an organization could not be liable of manslaughter. However, as the attorney general observed, this case was decided in this manner because of lack of substantive law to deal with crime committed by individuals while on duty in their respective organizations. The judiciary declined to develop the law to cover an aggregation of management failure to prove an offence and instead left the parliament to amend existing law.
On its part, the British parliament came up with the 2007 Act, where the corporate manslaughter is informed by the manner in which its senior executives manage a firm. In light of this, it is extremely difficult to bring charges on the organizations involved in Hillsborough Disaster. This is because; the law as constituted would not help securing a conviction. Given that the facts of the case only emerged from a review and attempts by police to cover up their failures, it would be unjust to subject other organizations to a trial. Part 4
Discuss in the context of Alcockv Chief Constable of South Yorkshire  1 AC 310 and explain how the law on psychiatric injury has developed since. Psychiatric injury is defined as sudden assault on the nervous system that violently agitates the mind. In earlier times, the tort of negligence with regard to psychiatric injury was not conclusive. However, nowadays, this area of law has become more certain largely due to various guidelines and criteria governing whether a person can recover damages because of experiencing an activity, which causes him/her some form of psychiatric injury.
In the context of Alcock v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire case, the court had declined to compensate the claimants who had claimed for psychiatric injuries. This move infuriated the relatives of Hillsborough victims. Nevertheless, the House of Lord overturned the verdict of Court of Appeal. This decision was informed by the perception concerning the morality of compensating police officers who had sustained psychiatric injury while on their official duties (White v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire). In the latter case, the courts had compensated the claimants. The law of psychiatric injury has been modified over time. n ancient times, warding of damages was only applicable where the claimant had also suffered physical injuries. For instance, In the Victorian Railway Commissioners V Coulatas, the claimant, a woman who suffered shock when she thought that she will be killed if the train collided with a carriage was not awarded damages. The Privy Council ruled that she would be awarded damages because she did not suffer any physical injury. This is despite the fact that she miscarried her baby. In early 20th century, the courts began to award damages for the psychiatric injury,, also referred to as nervous shock.
Ordinarily, a claimant who suffers psychiatric injuries from an incident that threatened either his life or witnessing an experience that is distressing in a manner that he can recover should be compensated for psychiatric injury. Until recently, the courts have been allowing claims for psychiatric injury with certain limits. This mostly applies for secondary victims. Since secondary victims are not affected by psychiatric injury largely, they are required establish a close tie of relationship with the primary victim as well as the proximity at the time of the accident.
For example, in Hambrook v Stokes Bros case, a pregnant mother died when she suffered a miscarriage while taking her children to school. Her complications arose out of fear her children had been killed by a lorry that had lost control. The court of appeal upheld her claim on the basis that her complications were triggered by the fear that her children had been killed.
- Alberstat, Media Production Agreements (1st, routelage, London 1996) 59
- Barendt, E et al, Libel and the Media: The Chilling Effect (1st, Oxford University Press, New York 1997) 661
- Smartt, U, Media Law for Journalists (1st, SAGE Publications, London 2006) 224
- Pearson, M, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law: Dealing with Legal and Ethical Issues (1st, Allen & Unwin Academi, London 20004) 198
- Newman, C.’The sun struggles to regain its shine after Hillsborough: Despite talk of an apology, residents find it hard to forgive the newspaper’s comments on the disaster 20 years ago’  Cathy Newman reports: Financial Times , 5
- Hooper, D, Reputations Under Fire: Winners and Losers in the Libel Business (1st, Warner, London 2000) 15
- Wright, J. C. , Binney, V. , & Kunkler, J, ‘Psychological Distress in the Local Hillsborough or ‘Host’ Community Following the Hillsborough Football Stadium Disaster’  Journal Of Community & Applied Social Psychology, , 78
- The Football Spectators Act (1989)
- Football Disorder Act (1989)
- Football Act (1999)
- Football Disorder Act (2000)
- Football Disorder Bill (2001)
- SPORTS, ‘England FA apologises for 1989 hillsborough disaster’ [2012, sep 13] Finacial Mirror ,
- Bekham G,, ‘The Price of Passion: The Banishment of English Hooligans from Football Matches in Violation of Fundamental Freedoms’  Hastings International And Comparative Law Review , 261
- Grant W,, ‘An analytical framework for a political economy of football. British Politics’  , 67
- Lloyd c, , ‘Getting tough in anti-social britain. Northern Echo’  ,
- Groom, B. , Richards, H. , & Shrimsley, R, ‘Football hooligans face life match ban of English Hooligans from Football Matches in Violation of Fundamental Freedoms’ [2000, Jun 20] Financial Times , 2
- Groom, B. , Richards, H. , & Shrimsley, R, ‘Football hooligans face life match ban of English Hooligans from Football Matches in Violation of Fundamental Freedoms’ [2000, Jun 20] Financial Times , 2
- Tesco v Nattrass  HL 153 (AC)
- Alcockv Chief Constable of South Yorkshire  1 A 310
- Victorian Railway Commissioners V Coulatas  13 AP 222 (CAS)
- UK regulations, ‘Ruling on psychiatric injury in discrimination case. ‘  New York, United States, New York: The Economist Intelligence Unit ,
- Strauss, G. , Glenn, M. , Reddi, P. , Afaq, I. , Podolskaya, A. , Rybakova, T. , . . . El-Mallakh, R, ‘Psychiatric disposition of patients brought in by crisis intervention team police officers’ [e. g. 2005] Community Mental Health Journal , 225
- Fiesta, J, ‘Psychiatric liability’  Part 2. Nursing Management , 23
- Hambrook v Stokes Brothers  I KB 141 (CA)
Cases Hambrook v Stokes Brothers  I KB 141 (CA) Victorian Railway Commissioners V Coulatas 
13 AP 222 (CAS) Tesco v Nattrass  HL 153 (AC) Alcockv Chief Constable of South Yorkshire 
1 A 310 Legislation Football Disorder Act (2000)
Football Disorder Bill (2001)
The Football Spectators Act (1989)
Football Disorder Act (1989)
Football Act (1999)
Other sources Alberstat, Media Production Agreements (1st, routelage, London 1996)
59 Barendt, E et al, Libel and the Media: The Chilling Effect (1st, Oxford University Press, New York 1997)
661 Smartt, U, Media Law for Journalists (1st, SAGE Publications, London 2006)
224 Pearson, M, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law: Dealing with Legal and Ethical Issues (1st, Allen & Unwin Academi, London 2004)
198 Newman, C. , ‘The sun struggles to regain its shine after Hillsborough: Despite talk f an apology, residents find it hard to forgive the newspaper’s comments on the disaster 20 years ago’ 
Cathy Newman reports: Financial Times , 5 Hooper, D, Reputations Under Fire: Winners and Losers in the Libel Business (1st, Warner, London 2000)
15 Wright, J. C. , Binney, V. , & Kunkler, J, ‘Psychological Distress in the Local Hillsborough or ‘Host’ Community Following the Hillsborough Football Stadium Disaster’ 
Journal Of Community & Applied Social Psychology, , 78 SPORTS, ‘England FA apologises for 1989 hillsborough disaster’ [2012, sep 13] Finacial Mirror ,Bekham G,, ‘The Price of Passion: The Banishment of English Hooligans from Football Matches in Violation of Fundamental Freedoms’ 
Hastings International And Comparative Law Review , 261 Grant W,, ‘An analytical framework for a political economy of football. British Politics’ 
67 Lloyd c, , ‘Getting tough in anti-social britain. Northern Echo’  ,
Groom, B. , Richards, H. , & Shrimsley, R, ‘Football hooligans face life match ban of English Hooligans from Football Matches in Violation of Fundamental Freedoms’ [2000, Jun 20]
Financial Times , Groom, B. Richards, H. , & Shrimsley, R, ‘Football hooligans face life match ban of English Hooligans from Football Matches in Violation of Fundamental Freedoms’ [2000, Jun 20]
Financial Times , 2 UK regulations, ‘Ruling on psychiatric injury in discrimination case. ‘ 
New York, United States, New York: The Economist Intelligence Unit , Strauss, G. , Glenn, M. , Reddi, P. , Afaq, I. , Podolskaya, A. , Rybakova, T. , . . . El-Mallakh, R, ‘Psychiatric disposition of patients brought in by crisis intervention team police officers’ [e. g. 005]
Community Mental Health Journal , 225 Fiesta, J, ‘Psychiatric liability’  Part 2. Nursing Management , 23