Internet Identity Mix-Up Costs Newspaper Publisher Dear
It is only too easy to mis-identify individuals on the Internet and, in one striking case, a newspaper publisher had to pay libel damages to a distinguished soldier after mixing her up with her twin sister, who was standing trial for murder.
The soldier was a key prosecution witness in the case against her non-identical twin and was photographed outside court. Her image appeared on a newspaper’s website with a caption which incorrectly identified her as her sister. Her lawyers argued that, when viewed together, the photograph and the accompanying report of the case meant that she had been tried for murder and convicted of child cruelty.
The publisher accepted that there was no truth in such allegations and swiftly removed the offending photograph from its website when the soldier complained. However, her lawyers argued that the publication had caused her very considerable upset and had had a knock-on effect on her ability to carry out her duties.
The facts of the case emerged as the High Court approved a settlement of the soldier’s defamation claim. The publisher apologised to her for the considerable reputational harm, distress and hurt that she endured. It also agreed to pay her an undisclosed sum in damages and the majority of her legal costs.