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RICHARD BURGON was left “delighted” after winning £30,000 damages in his libel case against The Sun today over claims that a heavy metal band he performed with used nazi imagery.
The shadow justice secretary sued the right-wing rag over an April 2017 online article, which said he had joined a Leeds band that “delights in nazi symbols.”
An image tweeted by the band Dream Troll used an “S” that appeared to be similar to the logo of the notorious nazi paramilitary organisation the Schutzstaffel (SS).
Mr Burgon, the Labour MP for Leeds East, said the image was a “spoof” of Black Sabbath’s 1975 album We Sold Our Soul for Rock ’n’ Roll.
The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers and its political editor Tom Newton Dunn, argued that the image was “strongly reminiscent of nazi iconography” and that Mr Burgon “demonstrated terrible misjudgment and exposed himself to ridicule.”
Giving judgment at the High Court in London today, Mr Justice Dingemans ruled in Mr Burgon’s favour on his claim for libel, awarding him damages and an injunction to prevent further publication of the article.
But the judge dismissed Mr Burgon’s claim for malicious falsehood, finding that “Mr Newton Dunn was acting honestly when he wrote the story.”
Following the ruling, Mr Burgon tweeted: “Delighted to have won my High Court case against The Sun.
“Their slur attempting to link me to ‘nazi symbols’ was held to be false and defamatory.
“The judge ordered The Sun to pay £30,000 in damages. With that I’ll fund a paid justice internship for a young person from Leeds.”
Mr Burgon’s solicitors Carter-Ruck described the decision as a “major victory.”
Nigel Tait, head of media law at the firm, said: “This is another sign that the courts will not condone irresponsible and untrue allegations against public figures.”
A spokesman for The Sun said the newspaper was “deeply disappointed” and would appeal against the ruling.
At a hearing in January, Mr Burgon’s barrister Adam Speker said the article involved a “deliberate misrepresentation.”
He submitted that The Sun had “manufactured a knowingly false and misleading story” by “doctoring the image published by the band” by removing the hashtag “#blacksabbath” which accompanied the tweet.
Mr Speker said the article was “as far removed from responsible journalism as one could possibly imagine,” adding: “Quite simply, they were just out to get him.”
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