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Writer Sarah Thornton wins £65,000 damages over review

27 July 11 11:01
Sarah Thornton

An author has won £65,000 in libel damages over a "spiteful" book review that was written by a journalist for a broadsheet newspaper.

Sarah Thornton took legal action over Lynn Barber's 2008 review of her book Seven Days in the Art World.

Ruling in London's High Court, Mr Justice Tugendhat said the Daily Telegraph review was "spiteful" and contained serious factual errors.

The newspaper said it would appeal "at the earliest opportunity".

Ms Thornton's libel complaint related to Ms Barber's allegation that she had not been interviewed by the author for the book, despite being listed in it as an interviewee.

However, the court found the claim to be false and also rejected Ms Barber's claim that Ms Thornton granted interviewees copy approval for their contributions to the book.

The Telegraph Media Group must pay Ms Thornton £50,000 in relation to the libel, and £15,000 for malicious falsehood concerning the claim of copy approval, as well her legal fees.

Speaking afterwards Ms Thornton said: "This case, at its heart, is about journalistic integrity. At a time when the ethics of the tabloids are under scrutiny, here is an example of a 'quality' journalist's abuse of power."

A Telegraph spokesperson said: "We are dismayed by this judgment.

"We believe the findings that Lynn Barber was reckless and motivated by malice are erroneous, and have adverse implications for freedom of expression."

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