On January 24th 2019 the Supreme Court will decide whether to overturn a decision that the former wife of a wealthy businessman, who was arrested after he strangled her, should be held liable for defamation against him and pay substantial legal costs because when she said on Facebook ‘he tried to strangle me’ she defamed him by implying he tried to kill her, when that was not his intention.
Following revelations of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) used by Harvey Weinstein and others to silence accusers and the use of super injunctions to preserve reputations; Stocker v Stocker represents the latest in a series of libel cases where wealthy men have sought to protect their reputations from women who accuse them of abuse.
The Supreme Court recently considered the case of Lachaux v Independent Print Ltd, a wealthy French citizen sued two newspapers who had published allegations made by his former wife of domestic abuse and child kidnap. In Economou v De Freitas, the son of a shipping tycoon sued David de Freitas, for raising issues in the public domain about the role of the CPS in taking over a private prosecution instigated by Economou against David’s daughter Eleanor for perverting the course of justice when she reported an allegation of rape to the police. Eleanor took her own life on the eve of the trial.
The majority of women who have been raped or subject to domestic abuse do not even report their allegations through shame, victim blaming and the fear of reprisals and of disbelief. For those that do report, few ultimately get justice as they face numerous hurdles negotiating their way through the criminal justice system.
The impression created by #MeToo that now women are free to speak out about sexual violence is sadly far from the truth and the willingness of lawyers and the courts to collude with the silencing of women must stop.
Join us to discuss how we can challenge the use of libel proceedings and other legal procedures used to protect wealthy men from allegations of abuse. Contributors to include those involved in the litigation, journalists, women’s groups and other experts including Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC; Helena Kennedy QC; Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters; and Harriet Wistrich, director of CWJ.