Canadian Writer Sues Critic and Wins £65,000 in Libel Damages

The London High Court recently ruled for UK-based Canadian writer and sociologist, Sarah Thornton in a lawsuit over a “spiteful” book review of the non-fiction bestseller Seven Days in the Art World. Thornton was awarded £65,000 (around $101,178 CAD) for libel. The crux of the case fell on false allegations made by Daily Telegraph critic Lynn Barber claiming that she had never been interviewed by Thornton despite being listed as an interviewee in the book. But in fact, she had.

Sarah Thornton, author of Seven Days in the Art World

An extra £15,000 in punitive damages were added for malicious conduct. As the judge explained:

A reviewer is entitled to be spiteful, so long as she is honest, but if she is spiteful, the court may more readily conclude that misstatements of fact are not honest, since spite or ill will is a motive for dishonesty.

See the Financial Times for an in depth article on the case, and Canadian Art for a 2009 interview with Thornton on her book.

Source: VoCA