I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting a kick out of the “we can’t print anything at all about the allegation against the man in line to the British throne” thing going on right now. I’d imagine that news editors across Great Britain are getting sick of trying to figure out new ways to talk around the story, and getting sicker of reading the complete details in the print of their French and American counterparts. It’s interesting to me, though, that while it’s (apparently) against British law for newspapers to print the rumors that a former royal valet walked in on Prince Charles having sex with a male aide, it’s not against the law for those same papers to print the Prince’s retaliatory allegations that the valet was an alcoholic sufferer of PTSD. How very odd!


Although there are a number of differences between the US and UK law of defamation, they have this in common: truth is an absolute defense. The valet’s alcoholism and PTSD are easily proved— but an allegation of homosexual conduct (or adulterous conduct, for that matter) is defamatory per se, and more difficult to prove.

In other words, this is more a question of evidence than a question of what is or is not defamatory.

English defamation law is screwy, I think, because it has a profound chilling effect on freedom of the press.

• Posted by: Bill Altreuter on Nov 26, 2003, 11:17 AM
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