Entertainment & Arts

Morrissey libel trial given the go-ahead

Morrissey
Morrissey first signalled his intent to sue NME in November 2007

Singer Morrissey's libel action over an article about his attitude to immigration can go to trial, the High Court has ruled.

The former Smiths frontman is suing music magazine NME over a 2007 article.

The publication tried to have the claim removed due to a lack of proceedings since May 2008.

But a judge said that the 52-year-old star - who was not in court - had a "very serious" claim and a "credible" explanation for delaying.

A trial is unlikely to take place before next summer.

Mr Justice Tugendhat said that Morrissey should have pursued his action further, but said it would be a "disproportionate sanction" to strike out his claim.

He added: "The imputation complained of in this action is a very serious one, the extent of publication was very wide.

"Mr Morrissey remains a prominent figure in the world of music, and NME is a magazine which enjoys an important place in that world."

The judge concluded that despite the delay, it would still be possible to hold a fair trial.

The singer's lawyers have said that lack of assistance from his former manager was chiefly to blame for delay in progressing the action.

Morrissey parted company from Merck Mercuriadis in May 2008.

Following the ruling, a spokesman for NME said: "After almost four years, we are glad that the matter will now proceed to trial and we will finally get the opportunity to bring this matter to a close."

Morrissey signalled his intention to sue the publication in 2007 after it failed to apologise for printing an interview and article focusing on his views about immigration.

The magazine criticised the former Smiths star for allegedly telling a reporter that Britain had lost its identity due to an influx of people from other countries.

NME contended that their article constituted fair comment on a matter of public interest and they were expressions of opinion.

Morrissey maintains that his words were distorted and taken out of context.

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