The Sun reported that a UK Parliament member was part of a “heavy metal band that delights in Nazi symbols.”
That politician, Richard Burgon, sued the News Corp-owned publication over the 2017 article, saying it was libelous to report that the band, Dream Tröll, was pro-Nazi. This week, the London High Court ruled in Burgon’s favor. “In reality, the judge concluded that Dream Tröll had simply tweeted a parody image of a classic Black Sabbath album cover and were not endorsing the Nazi paramilitary organisation,” the Guardian reported.
Justice Dingemans explained the Sun could have published one of two stories: “One is about Mr Burgon joining a band which as he knew took great pleasure in using Nazi symbols. The other is about Mr Burgon joining a band which had produced an image based on the Black Sabbath album cover which used stylised ‘S’s, which some persons might consider to be similar to the ‘S’s used in the [Nazi] ‘SS’ symbol.”
In a statement on Twitter, the Sun said it was “deeply disappointed” and planned to appeal. The Sun declined to comment beyond that statement to iMediaEthics.
“We fundamentally disagree with the Judge’s conclusions, and furthermore, fear they may act as a brake on the ability of the free press to hold those in power to account and to scrutinise the judgment of those who aspire to the highest offices in the land,” the statement continues. The Sun stood by its reporting as in the public interest.
Burgon tweeted he was “delighted” by the case, and that he plans to use the £30,000 he receives in damages to fund an internship.
Separately, the judge dismissed a claim of malicious falsehood related to the article, the BBC reported.
iMediaEthics has written to Burgon’s lawyer for further comment about the verdict.