Q2: Reynolds Defence and defences to a Defamation claim
The emerging defence coming through the Legal System, known as ‘The Reynolds Defence’ was a defence that derived from the case of Reynolds v Times Newspapers (1999), a legal case in the House of Lords regarding qualified privilege for publication of defamatory statements in the public interest. The case originated from a news story published by The Times about the previous Prime Minister, Albert Reynolds, and the concerns up to his resignation. The published article alleged that Reynolds had misled the Irish Parliament and his colleagues about the circumstances surrounding the appointment of the President o the High Court. The Times used what was called a common law ‘Qualified Privilege’ defence arising out of a reciprocal duty and interest. This defence could, for example protect a teacher who suspected a colleague of child abuse and reported them to the local authority. When Reynolds sued the newspaper, the newspaper argued that the publication had a duty to tell its readers about this, where the media notifies the public about matters of the great public interest.
The House of Lords accepted that it was important information for the public to know about matters such as misleading the Irish Parliament so that the public could make concrete decisions when voting. The House of Lord also acknowledged and pointed out that in the best view of the public interest, it was important for politicians to protect their reputation against any faulty accusation, which would prove valuable to the public when distinguishing who is proven good or who is proven as bad.
The Reynolds Defence was then developed into a new defence, a new qualified privilege defence in which its purpose was to preserve information that was published and to protect it fairly and responsibly. In order to keep important information secure without exposing the whole story to the public, factors would have to be limited and the behaviour of the...