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How you can help: Libel Quiz

Ten Questions on Libel - just for fun

1. What form of adversarial conflict was the libel law introduced to replace?

2. How does the UK's libel law differ from most other forms of case law?

3. Who said: 'the principles of English libel law fail to measure up to the basic human rights standards and are repugnant to public policy and the constitutional ideal of free speech'?

4. Which country's libel laws are widely considered to be the most repressive in the West?

5. How long was the longest libel law case in the UK's history?
see note 1, at foot of page
6. In that particular case how much did food giant McDonald's allegedly spend on their legal team alone each day prosecuting two unemployed green activists for libel?

7. What is the most common result after a libel writ is served?

8. Which of the following organisations do newspaper editors most fear will issue writs for libel?

9. What percentage of defendants won their cases in the courts in the 10 years prior to 1996?

10. Which of the following cases resulted in the awarding of the highest damages?

see note 2, at foot of page, for damages and dates
correct on first try


1. The longest libel law case in the UK's history was the McLibel case, at 313 days.

2. Damages and dates

  1. Liberace v Daily Mirror for the suggestion that he was gay? (UKP 8,000 in 1959)
  2. Lord Aldington v Tolstoy & Watts for the distribution of 10,000 pamphlets suggesting that he was implicated in the repatriation of prisoners of war at the end of the second world war (UKP1,500,000 in 1989 - highest)
  3. Six year old Jonathan Hunt who sued the Sun newspaper (circulation 4 million) over allegations that he was 'the worst brat in Britain'. (UKP35,000 in 1991)
  4. Former Irish prime minister Albert Reynolds sued the Sunday Times over an article which referred to him as a 'Gombeen Man' and suggested that he had lied to the Irish parliament. (UKP 0.01 in 1996)