Makudi v Triesman

16.30Further developments in the law relating to the ‘effective repetition’ of statements initially made under parliamentary privilege arose in Makudi v Triesman. The defendant, a Member of the House of Lords, appeared before a Commons select committee and made allegations of corruption against the claimant relating to bids for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The defendant repeated the allegations made before the select committee to a FIFA investigatory tribunal. This repetition led the claimant to sue for libel and malicious falsehood. The claim was struck out by the High Court.1 It was held that although repetition of privileged statements outside of Parliament could give rise to liability, whether liability arose or not was a matter of fact and degree. The claimant in this case was unable to show to the satisfaction of the court that the alleged damage was caused by the repetition, rather than the original statements before the committee which would have been covered by absolute privilege. It was further held that the defendant could rely on the defence of qualified privilege, as the statements were made in the course of his official duties. Lastly, in relation to the claim for malicious falsehood, the court held that an inquiry into whether the defendant had malicious intent in repeating the statements would require an inquiry into his state of mind when he made the original statements before the committee. This would require inquiring into the motivation or intention behind statements made in Parliament, and would breach article IX of the Bill of Rights.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal2 affirmed the High Court's judgment, and further stated that statements repeated outside Parliament should continue to enjoy the protection of absolute privilege where there was (a) a public interest in repetition of the parliamentary utterance which the speaker ought reasonably to serve, and (b) so close a nexus between the occasions of his speaking, in and then out of Parliament, that the prospect of his obligation to speak on the second occasion (or the expectation or promise that he would do so) is reasonably foreseeable at the time of the first and the purpose in speaking on both occasions is the same or very closely related. The court did not intend this to be a hard and fast rule but believed that other circumstances in which it might apply would be extremely limited.

Footnotes

  1. 1. Makudi v Baron Treisman of Tottenham [2013] EWHC 142 (QB).
  2. 2. Makudi v Baron Treisman of Tottenham [2014] EWCA Civ 179, [2014] QB 839, [2014] 3 All ER 36.