Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fair Deal Phil wins libel action against Mail-on-Sunday

Deepings councillor Phil Dilks has won a full apology and substantial damages from the Mail-on-Sunday newspaper in a libel action settled in the High Court of Justice in London today (Wednesday).

Cllr Dilks, a Labour Party press officer, was wrongly accused of kicking a teenage girl in an article published by the Mail-on-Sunday last February.

The totally untrue accusation was made by Richard Gibbs, who had worked for a short period as a Labour Party trainee organiser before defecting to the Conservative Party.

Cllr Dilks sued the Mail-on-Sunday and Richard Gibbs for libel.

In the High Court today, lawyers for the Mail-on-Sunday and Richard Gibbs admitted there was no truth in their story.

In an agreed statement, senior Judge Mr Justice Eady was told:
"The Mail-on-Sunday accepts that neither Mr Dilks nor any of his colleagues kicked anyone or knows of any such incident occuring."
Both Mr Gibbs and the Mail-on-Sunday apologized to Cllr Dilks and agreed to pay him substantial damages and all legal costs.

The Mail-on-Sunday will also publish an apology this weekend on their website and in their newspaper.

Outside the High Court, Cllr Dilks said:

“I was not prepared to let the Mail-on-Sunday get away with publishing lies which were damaging to my reputation as a parent, as an elected public servant and as a professional communications officer.

"It has taken nine stressful months to set the record straight, but today I have been totally vindicated and have won everything I set out to achieve in my libel action.

"It is a huge relief that those responsible for this outrageous accusation finally admitted in the High Court today that there was not a grain of truth in their story.

"It was only after the Mail-on-Sunday was served with a libel writ that they bothered to check the facts and discovered that Richard Gibbs' claim that I had kicked a young girl was absolutely baseless.

"When I trained as a journalist in Lincoln 35 years ago, every word had to be checked and double-checked before it was published. In this case, the Mail on Sunday failed to follow the same high standards.

"I wish to thank my family and the Labour Party for backing me, my legal team, and many friends and colleagues - some across the political divide - who supported me throughout this action to set the record straight.

“No employee of any organization should be subjected to the anxiety and stress caused when damaging lies are printed in a national Sunday newspaper."

Background:

As well as working as the Labour Party's Head of Regional Media, Cllr Dilks represents Deeping St James on Lincolnshire County Council where he is opposition spokesman for education.

He also serves as a member of Lincolnshire Police Authority and Deeping St James Parish Council.

Phil is married and has two grown up daughters - both trained primary school teachers. A former journalist, he was previously National Press Officer for the NSPCC.

Photo shows Cllr Dilks (centre) with his legal team Gerald Shamash of Steel & Shamash Solicitors and Roy Kennedy, Director of Legal Compliance, The Labour Party.

42 comments:

Bloggers4Labour said...

Well done!

el tom said...

Congratulations Phil.

I can only fantasis about being in your position.

enigman said...

My wife Morag has cancelled her subscription to the Mail on Sunday.

Mark said...

Brilliant, Phil.

So, when are you buying the round, then?

Fordy said...

What a brilliant victory! Congratulations on standing up to the bullies. I look forward to a better Christmas gift than the one I received last year

Bruno (Skegness) said...

Good on you, Phil

parburypolitica said...

Nice one. This news has really brightend up my day! Thanks Phil

Brynley said...

For mash get Shamash!

Nice work.

Emilie said...

Well done Phil! I am really pleased for you and it is no less than you deserve.

liz said...

Absolutely delighted. I wish others followed suit which might ensure standards in journalism improved. Perhaps the newspaper in question will be more careful when it tries to demolish a member of the party again.

Dee said...

Well done, thrilled for ya! A long-waited deserved outcome. Next round is on you...!

Mick said...

A victory for decency. Just a shame that they printed it in the first place.

Richard said...

Super ! Great ! Well done ! Such an unwelcome ordeal, no one should ever suffer - I trust Gibbs and 'Mail on Sunday' are suitably humbled. As an innocent myself, I've 'gone to court' thrice, and succeeded twice. I know any 'compo' is no Lotto win - the true strain hardly equates in financial terms. Therefore this Red Imp is proud of you Phil - it takes real guts to be counted. Kipling's, "If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you ..." jumps to mind ! Don't buy those drinks, let the others treat you. It is well deserved.

Anonymous said...

Well done Phil.

This is fantastic news. You stood up to them and won and proved they were were not telling the truth.

You have made us all proud.

Anthony said...

Congratulations Phil.

Andy said...

that's bloody brilliant news Phil! The MoS pretends to speak for decent people with their rotten paper - you have exposed them for the malicious bastards they are.

A soft socialist said...

Congrats, all at labour students are pleased.

Samantha said...

Nice to see you wielding the simple sword of truth, Cllr Dilks!

Anonymous said...

Great news Phil.

Best news in a long while.

Anonymous said...

Pleased to see the outcome of your libel action.
Drinks on you?

Shaun Davies said...

Phil,

After meeting you at Labour Student Political weekend, I knew you were a fighter! On behalf of Aberystwyth Labour Students and Welsh Labour Student generally well done! It about time that the Daily Mail is found out for its nasty, right wing inaccurate rubbish that it shamefully calls reporting!

Good on you!

Shaun Davies,

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Phil - I had to comment on the rather fine tie you were wearing. Very snazzy!

Geoffrey Brooking said...

If anyone is interested this story is running on my web site today at:

www.geoff-brookings-political-blog.blogspot.com

NEW GOVERNMENT LEAK EXPOSES MORE GERRYMANDERING INSIDE THE NHS

Yesterday the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt became the latest member of the Blair Bitch Project to be interviewed by detectives investigating "alleged" (you have to keep the lawyers happy) Cash for Peerages.

However, the growing public backlash at the Government’s NHS cuts took a new turn yesterday when it was revealed that Labour Ministers are actively involved in planning the cuts and at the same time managing the media fallout in the Lincoln Parliamentary constituency where local MP and Shadow Transport Minister Gillian Merron is said to be fighting for her political life.

Basically under the Freedom of Information Act, the Department of Health has been forced to publish ‘heat maps’, showing the 77 NHS services on the Government’s hitlist - where media interest on cutbacks and closures is focused now and ‘in the future’.

My understanding is that Ministers and Labour Party officials have been holding meetings to work out ways of closing hospitals and at the same time minimising the negative media coverage in order to avoid losing marginal Parliamentary seats like Lincoln at the next general election.

The so-called 'heat maps' therefore highlight the NHS organisations most at risk of cutbacks and closure.

As was reported on this blog only last week, in nearby Skegness, there were three further resignations from the non executive board of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, including that of Local Labour Councillor Mark Anderson amidst allegations that hospital waiting lists had been fiddled at ULHT.

Therefore, I believe that it is now clear that these so called 'heat maps' expose the fact that Labour Ministers have a sinister hospital closure plan and are conspiring with Labour Party officials to minimise the political fallout in order to save their own political skin and whilst NHS staff are concerned about how they can treat their patients, the Department of Health is more interested in how the media report Gordon Brown’s NHS cuts.

enigman said...

Can people now stop the 'drinks are on you' joke? It has expired. Well done Phil. The Milkybars are on you!

liz said...

Geoffrey, What a load of conspiracy nonsense you write. It surely is incumbent upon any government to have "heat maps" to ascertain where Trusts are operating a deficit and where problems may occur. (All those who provide a service do this as do political parties). This does not in any way indicate that they are planning cuts - what drivel - look up the facts about funding. Are you saying that all public bodies who make themselves aware of difficulties are involved in aconspiracy? Funding for the NHS is determined centrally but all decisions regarding where resources are allocated are taken locally. Skegness Hospital has been under threat for many years - due to cost and numbers (outside of the holiday season) using the service - this is not a political but a financial descision.

It was quite right that the non executive directors resigned from the United Hospital Trust Boards. I would suggest that you look up the role of a non executive director before making insinuations. I know that some have stated thet they was misled by those presenting information regarding hospital admissions etc. That is too bad - it was their job to represent us and to analyse and ask pertinent questions and evidence to support statements made by those who sought to deceive. They would have had to resign if they were on the board of a private company - the shareholders would have demanded it.

Your understanding about the "heat maps" is wrong. Central government does not make decisions about hospital closures. I would suggest that you take up your concerns with the Trust Board. Further this thread is about the case at the High Court, libel and inaccurate reporting by the Daily Mail. It is not to incorrectly interpret information received from the DOH - seems like the Daily Mail all over again.

Michael Oakeshott said...

I guess it comes down to trust. Liz trusts Blair and the other liars. Geoffrey doesn't. I know who I agree with.

Anonymous said...

I honestly do not consider trust is an issue. It is purely about facts. I have studied the structure of the NHS and where decisions are made. Regrettably, press reports (such as the Daily Mail's reporting on Phil) have come up with this idea about closures based on politics - ie, no closure in Labour areas etc. It really is rubbish and an insult to those local boards who allocating resources.

Anonymous said...

I do wish right-wing bigots would stop hijacking every subject in Phil's blog to make rude remarks and rash accusations against Mr Blair

Michael Oakeshott said...

A bigot...someone who can't accept opinions different from their own.

Oh dear anonymous, how ironic...

liz said...

Michael,
Anonymous is right. The Chambers Dictionary defines a bigot as one who blindly and obstinately is devoted to a particular creed or party. I regret that some comment on this blog in blaming central government for what is local decision making is bigotry - the comment is not based on evidence.

It seems to me that offering an opinion is of course different as it implies judgement based on the facts and one believes it is true.

I agree with anonymous.

Michael Oakeshott said...

I expect you would Liz. We will have to differ on the definition of bigot. The way to judge a source's reliablility is to look at its previous record. In the case of Blair, he is a proven liar in many areas. Hence only a moron(person of sub normal intelligence) would believe a word the liar or any of his accomplices say.

Sorry so many people on the left get touchy about free debate, but then there is a record of that sort of thing as well isn't there?

Geoffrey Brooking said...

I agree with Michael once again.

Liz states that "The Chambers Dictionary defines a bigot as one who blindly and obstinately is devoted to a particular creed or party."

The sad fact of the matter is that the story about the heat maps is true and poor Gillian Merron (who one has to say is a perosn who is "blindly and obstinately is devoted to a particular creed or party") is going to pay the price for it being true.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how Blair's record gets dragged into comments on Fair Deal Phil's court victory against the Mail on Sunday.

It is clear that the Mail on Sunday were in the dock here.

They have been exposed for publishing lies in their Tory rag.

Let's not forget that these were Tory lies.

Lewt's just celebrate that they've been forced to own up and pay out.

Let the police properly investigate ALL the parties funding arrangements before we rush to judgement.

I don't believe any Prime Minister in modern times has "lied" - so can we stop this nonsense?

Michael Oakeshott said...

I am just not interested in this court case. If Phil was innocent of the allegations of kicking this girl, then I am glad the paper apologised. But you clearly haven't a clue if you think the Mail is a Tory paper...it has nothing good to say about Cameron, which is the reason I would buy it if I returned to the UK. So quite how does anything in the newspaper become the Tories responsibility?

You wait for the police(you'll be disappointed), but all the required evidence is on public display in the House of Lords. Blair and jis cronies sold places in the legislature. He may well go to prison, and his rotten party will lose the election.

And if you think Blair has never lied, then you need treatment. What about the intelligence for Iraq? He lied and you know it anonymous, and your defence of the liar is feeble when we remember that the blood of over 100 UK troops is on his hands.

Marietta said...

Greetings from everyone in your Erewash fan club Phil!

Delighted about the victory in court.

I hadn't realized just how desperate the Tories had become....

Sham said...

Good on you, mate!

Anonymous said...

Michael Oakeshott said...
"I am just not interested in this court case. "

Then you should not be posting here, should you? Please don't pollute this item with your comments!


"But you clearly haven't a clue if you think the Mail is a Tory paper...it has nothing good to say about Cameron"

It is probably BECAUSE it is a right-wing paper that it has nothing good to say about Cameron. But that is an issue which does not belong in this thread on this blog.

Nick Palmer MP said...

Wonderful! Ignoring the obsessives who've tried to hijack the thread, I just want to say WELL DONE!

Michael Oakeshott said...

I answered a point made on the thread. Why are you so keen to silence people? Labour got something to hide? Good luck Det Yates!

AnneS said...

Good for you! Perhaps from now on the newspaper will take time to check its sources.

Rob Shorrock said...

Just caught up with this. What a relief for you it must have been a horrible ordeal.

All the best,

Rob

Geoffrey Brooking said...

Typical Nick Palmer.

I am not hijacking the thread at all but just taking part in a debate.

Now what did the earlier post say was the definition for a bigot?