Peter Cruddas wins libel claim against Sunday Times
Peter Cruddas, Chief Executive of CMC Markets and former Treasurer of the Conservative Party, has today scored a major victory in the High Court in his long-running defamation action against the Sunday Times. At a pre-trial ruling today in the High Court the Sunday Times defence to the claim was struck out by Mr Justice Tugendhat who granted judgment to Mr Cruddas and an immediate injunction against the newspaper and two of its Insight journalists, Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake.
On 25 March 2012, The Sunday Times published a front page article headlined ‘Tory treasurer charges £250,000 to meet PM’ together with three further articles that made serious allegations against Mr Cruddas, including that he was corrupt and willing to act in breach of UK Electoral Law by accepting foreign donations. Mr Cruddas was forced to resign as Treasurer of the Conservative Party as a result of the Sunday Times articles and the allegations published by the newspaper were repeated by numerous other media outlets.
The Sunday Times has persistently maintained that it had never meant to suggest that Mr Cruddas was corrupt or prepared to act illegally, arguing instead that the meaning of the articles it published was only ever intended to suggest that Mr Cruddas was acting ‘against the spirit of the law.’ However, in a crushing judgment handed down by Mr Justice Tugendhat today, he rejected The Sunday Times’ interpretation of the meaning and entered judgment in favour of Mr Cruddas. He refused the Sunday Times permission to appeal and also imposed an injunction requiring the Sunday Times to remove the libellous articles about Mr Cruddas from its website.
Commenting on the outcome of today’s hearing, Jeremy Clarke-Williams, Senior Principal Lawyer at Slater & Gordon Lawyers who represents Mr Cruddas, said:
“This is a devastating and unequivocal judgment which provides the clear vindication Mr Cruddas deserves. We are delighted that his reputation as a successful and honest businessman and generous philanthropist has been restored. Although the Sunday Times continually maintained both before and during the litigation that this was public interest journalism, they did not defend the case on that basis and clearly there can never be a public interest in publishing malicious and damaging lies. One can only hope that important lessons will be learned from this case about the proper conduct of investigative journalism.”