[Reference was made to Attorney-General v Antigua Times Ltd  AC 16, 25-28.] Any restriction should be proportionate to its aim. Honest comment (including inferences of fact) cannot be the subject of a successful libel action: Silkin v Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd  1 WLR 743 and Telnikoff v Matusevitch  2 AC 343. v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex parte Brind  1 AC 696. A rule enabling a government corporation to sue for libel thus cannot be justified under article 10(2) in accordance with the principles of objective necessity and proportionality. Mr Oyston's action was settled by an apology and payment of damages and costs.The article should not be applied in the abstract to conclude that a local authority's right to bring a libel action will inevitably and in all circumstances infringe the article. Damages awarded to corporate plaintiffs are not large. There is a similar requirement where the restriction upon free expression is imposed by the common law itself: Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd  and Attorney-General v Guardian Newspapers Ltd (No. Furthermore, the courts will, unless constrained by binding authority, declare the common law so as to be in harmony with the right to freedom of expression recognised and guaranteed by article 10 of the Convention and with the principle that only necessary interferences with freedom of expression are acceptable. 149 and Times Newspapers Ltd v United Kingdom (Application No. [Reference was also made to Castells v Spain, 14 E. These principles are of particular importance so far as the press is concerned as public watchdog. The statements of claims in this action by the plaintiff and in that by Mr Bookbinder are for all practical purposes in identical terms.On appeal by the plaintiff:-Held, dismissing the appeal, that since it was of the highest public importance that a democratically elected governmental body should be open to uninhibited public criticism, and since the threat of civil actions for defamation would place an undesirable fetter on the freedom to express such criticism, it would be contrary to the public interest for institutions of central or local government to have any right at common law to maintain an action for damages for defamation; and that, accordingly, the plaintiff was not entitled to bring an action for libel against the defendants, and its statement of claim would be struck out (post, pp. Manchester Corporation v Williams  1 QB 94, D. Decision of the Court of Appeal  QB 770;  3 WLR 28;  3 All ER 65 affirmed on different grounds. This was an appeal, by leave of the Court of Appeal, by the plaintiff, Derbyshire County Council, from the decision of the Court of Appeal (Balcombe, Ralph Gibson and Butler-Sloss L. On the contrary, section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972 confers a wide power on local authorities to institute civil proceedings of all types. It is open to question, however, whether qualified privilege attaches to the publication of fair information on a matter of public interest concerning the manner in which a public officer performs public functions: see Webb v Times Publishing Co Ltd  2 QB 535 and Blackshaw v Lord  QB 1, in which the Court of Appeal took too narrow a view of the scope of privilege in such circumstances. A civil court can grant prior restraint of publication, and damages are potentially without limit. Their Lordships took time for consideration.18 February 1993.JJ.)  QB 770 allowing an appeal by the defendants, Times Newspapers Ltd, Andrew Neil, the editor of "The Sunday Times," and Rosemary Collins and Peter Hounam, two of the newspaper's journalists, from the order of Morland J. In exercising its powers and carrying out its functions as a county council, the plaintiff has a reputation that is distinct from that of its individual members or officers. It is not necessary for the corporation to prove actual damage: South Hetton Coal Co Ltd v North-Eastern News Association Ltd  1 QB 133. The need for a local authority to be able to sue for libel to protect its reputation is a real and pressing one. The plaintiffs cannot rely on section 222(1) of the Local Government Act 1972, since their proceedings are not capable of promoting or protecting the interests of the inhabitants of Derbyshire generally and they constitute an unnecessary interference with free expression. There is no legal aid and proceedings are notoriously costly. Lord Keith of Kinkel: My Lords, this appeal raises, as a preliminary issue in an action of damages for libel, the question whether a local authority is entitled to maintain an action in libel for words which reflect on it in its governmental and administrative functions.
Although followed in City of Prince George v British Columbia Television System Ltd, 85 D. The alleged libel is contained in a letter written by the defendant to the editor of the 'Manchester Examiner and Times,' which charged, as alleged by the statement of claim, that bribery and corruption existed or had existed in three departments of the Manchester City Council, and that the plaintiffs were either parties thereto or culpably ignorant thereof, and that the said bribery and corruption prevailed to such an extent as to render necessary an inquiry by a parliamentary commission.If there is a legitimate need for a local authority to protect its reputation, why should its ability to do so depend on whether, fortuitously, it could prove malice. If the council were to succeed in this appeal, any governmental body with corporate status could bring libel proceedings against a newspaper or individual citizen alleged to have defamed its governing reputation. In the United Kingdom there is no Act of Parliament incorporating the guarantee of free speech contained in article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms into domestic law. Subject to the sovereign power of Parliament to intervene by legislation, the common law matches the protection given to free speech by article 10. There are only two reported cases in which an English local authority has sued for libel.A non-malicious publication may cause just as much damage as a malicious one. Such bodies would be able to wield the very sharp sword of libel proceedings to deter or suppress public criticism and information about what they do as the people's representatives and public servants. 254 and Die Spoorbond v South African Railways, 1946 A. The fundamental human right to free expression is an essential feature of citizenship and of representative democracy. The first is Manchester Corporation v Williams  1 QB 94, 63 LT 805.Now it is for us to determine whether a corporation can bring such an action, and I must say that, to my mind, to allow such a thing would be wholly unprecedented and contrary to principle.A corporation may sue for a libel affecting property, not for one merely affecting personal reputation.