Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mail-on-Sunday says sorry: here's the historic clip...

In case you missed it - or like me wouldn't normally have the Mail-on-Sunday in the house, here's their apology printed on page 22 of today's edition.

As part of the settlement I agreed to in the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, the apology will also appear on their website for the next fortnight.

I particularly asked for the Mail's apology to appear on their website as the allegations kept popping up on various political weblogs.

After nine months, I hope its finally over.

Myself and my family can now hopefully put the whole horrible experience behind us and move on...


Scrybe said...

I do hope you didn't have to buy a copy of that rag with some of your damages money.

Gad its over for you though, while the story was amusingly funny the first time I read it, it was also extremely implausible and, no doubt, caused much distress to you and your family when it was re-reported repeatedly.

Is the website apology a new development do you know? I'm not averse to the idea of requiring all newspapers, etc., to have a website section dedicated to retractions, apologias, etc., since people could still link to this story after the apology is removed and, if we did have this reqiurement, you could clearly see how many inaccuracies each of the daily's produced.

fairdealphil said...


Thanks. Don't know if it's a new development to insist on web apology in libel cases.

I see the attraction in fording papers to put apologies on their websites, but as a former journalist, i know how much any paper hates admitting their was no truth in previously printed articles.

I had to go to the High Court which took nine months before the Mail would agree to an apology.

I really do feel for other victims of tabloid lies. It could have torn my life, job, council work and family apart.

Fortunately, I had the backing of the Labour Party who underwrote my considerable legal costs in getting the case to the High Court.

Eventually, the Mail were forced to pay those costs, as well as their own, apologise poubliclly and pay substantial damages.

I couldn't have taken the action without the Labour Party and am very grateful particularly to General Secretary Peter Watt and Head of Legal Complaince Roy Kennedy for having faith in me.

Bob Piper said...

Phil, when they put the web apology up let us know the link and we can get it posted on other Labour blogs.

By the way... I thought you said you had tried to make contact with Iain Dale, but I note in his comments box he says:

"...I'd like to know what I am supposed to be apologising for. I have never mentioned him in connection with the Mail on Sunday or anything else. If he had a problem with me I am sure he or his learned friend would have been in touch."

fairdealphil said...



the apology by the Mail on Sunday is at

I don't really have a bone to pick with Iain Dale over this.

Iain Dale did not mention me by name last Feb when the allegations were first printed.

But I think it is worth pointing out that Iain did the following:

1. "hype" Mr Gibbs' claims by providing a link to the Mail's story,

2. praise Mr Gibbs' weblog as "excellent",

3. comment that "needless to say the Labour spin machine was trying to rubbish Mr Gibbs by claiming he was a member of the Conservative Party" when The Cameron Leadership weblog itself claimed that Mr Gibbs, a co-author, had joined the Conservatives in 2005. Iain had a link to TCL on his own site.

I did email Iain last week to let him know I'd won my libel case as I - perhaps naively - hoped he might help set the record straight by reporting the court case on a news story on its own merits.

I did not complain nor specifically draw Iain's attention to how he originally covered the story last February.

It was Tom Watson MP who later picked up the report from UK Press Gazette and then printed extracts from Iain's original blog, suggesting he owed me an apology.

As I've made clear, in fairness to Iain, he did not libel me - my argument was against the Mail on Sunday and the source of their false allegations.

However, I do think there's a lesson for all of us bloggers.

Libel is libel in all media, including the internet.

We should all of us be more careful when posting links which themselves are defamatory.

Thanks Bob.

Anonymous said...

Well done, a long overdue appology from the worst rag in britain.

I see they running another misleading story today, which this time I believe requires the authorities to hit them hard for incitement.