Legal view: Blair unlikely to sue

November 7, 2003

Gill Philips, a solicitor for Times Newspapers and an expert on libel, said: "I find it somewhat hard to believe that those words are libellous.

"In the first instance, they strike me as amounting to vulgar abuse rather than anything else, which is not of itself actionable.

"In the second instance, the essence of libel is that you look at the overall 'sting' or meaning conveyed by the words... so, a successful defence would not be predicated on having to prove that Tony Blair was a '****'.

"Thirdly, it is certainly arguable (although it will depend on the context) that these words were comment, which would provide a defence so long it was an honestly held view.

"Finally, although predicting the response of a potential claimant is always a dangerous business, I would have thought it highly unlikely that Mr Blair... would think of suing over it."

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