Letter of the law

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From TV action to legal action

The Editor of The Eye Investigates Phil Parry has launched a legal action against a Welsh political lobbyist after being branded “biased” and “mysogonistic” (sic) in a tweet about a Plaid Cymru Assembly Member.

A formal legal letter demanding an agreed public apology, costs and damages, is about to be sent to the office of Daran Hill by Mr Parry’s libel lawyer.

Mr Hill’s tweet earlier this year linked to an article about the controversial AM Bethan Jenkins co-hosting a media conference, even though she had been in the press for drink-driving in her pyjamas, and claiming expenses following a pop concert.

After the story was published she was no longer on the itinerary.

Mr Hill stated to his followers:  “Severed links with @Wales Eye (our Twitter name) years ago.

Daran Hill – unfunny

“Unfunny, biased, personal, superficial, mysoginistic, out of touch &bitter.

“That’s WalesEye, not me”.

But Mr Parry said:  “People think they can say what they like on social media – well they can’t.

“All the same legal rules apply.

“I have been a journalist for 33 years, won numerous awards and worked on UK newspapers as well as network TV programmes.

“I have been called all sorts of things on social media and ignored them.

“I was accused of being a ‘lying bastard’ on Twitter by a right-wing blogger, which was highly defamatory.

“But a line has to be drawn somewhere.


Bethan Jenkins after her drink-driving ban – a twitter outburst added to the controversy

“Absolute neutrality is crucial and to publicly call me ‘biased’ is an appalling slur on what I do.

“To be labelled ‘misogonystic’ hits directly at my reputation and is plain wrong.

The Eye Investigate’s rules were published in December on Facebook, and the third of them is that no piece must be sexist.

“I have been involved in fighting any number of legal cases over many years, and this one is a cast-iron case of defamation.

“My lawyer, who I have instructed, agrees.

“Legal proceedings have begun with a formal letter.

Court action may follow

“I want a full and agreed public apology, costs, as well as substantial damages.”

The legal letter being sent to Mr Hill states:  “For the avoidance of doubt it is our client’s position that virtually all of the words used in the ‘offending’ tweet of 22 March 2017 are prima facie defamatory.

“In particular allegations that our client is ‘biased, personal… out of touch and bitter’ are wholly without foundation.

“However the gravest concern … is the allegation that the article concerning Bethan Jenkins was in any shape or form misogynistic.”

Expensive court action is likely to follow if the legal dispute is not satisfactorily resolved at this stage.

Tomorrow – why Labour politicians are crying foul after UKIP were accused of “ineligible expenditure” in an official report during last year’s Welsh Assembly election.