Discovery: it kills libel lawsuit and sends plaintiff to jail

Most important, [Alan] Rusbridger [editor of the Guardian] wanted the newspaper to be known for investigative reporting. Under its previous editor, the Guardian had launched a few prominent investigations, including its coverage of Jonathan Aitken, a Tory Cabinet minister; the paper reported that Aitken had procured prostitutes and made business deals with wealthy Saudis and arms dealers, who showered him with gifts. Aitken denounced the allegations, sued the paper for publishing “deliberate lies,” and declared that he would “cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth.”

After Rusbridger took over, and in the final stages of a libel trial, a Guardian reporter unearthed hotel bills that proved Aitken had concocted an elaborate series of fabrications; he had perjured himself, and was sent to jail. “Jonathan Aitken seems to have impaled himself on the simple sword of truth,” Rusbridger said at a press conference…

From “Freedom of Information,” by Ken Auletta, in the October 7, 2013 New Yorker

And this happened in a country the libel laws of which lean heavily in favor of the plaintiff. That is, Great Britain does not have a First Amendment.


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