The Mail on Sunday will pay “substantial damages” to British lawyer Sasha Wass after claiming she “buried evidence of Met bribes to put innocent man in jail.”
The Mail also apologized in court, Press Gazette reported.
“The lawsuit was settled rather than decided,” Oliver Cox, a senior associate solicitor at Carter-Ruck, which represented Sass, told iMediaEthics “The Mail on Sunday/MailOnline’s parent, Associate Newspapers, has admitted liability (i.e. that the article did libel Ms Wass) and agreed to make redress (through, in this case, public apologies in open court and in print, and agreeing in principle to pay Ms Wass’s damages and costs). The precise values for Ms Wass’s damages and costs are still in the process of being resolved.”
In a press statement, Wass claimed the Mail “distorted the information I had provided” when responding to its media inquiry to her. “I did not – and would never – knowingly mislead the court,” she added. Wass continued,
“The IPSO process was slow and the result hollow. Although the Mail on Sunday was forced to print the results of the adjudication, IPSO informed me that they had no power to require the Mail on Sunday to pay damages, reimburse my legal costs, apologise or prevent continued publication of the original article on the internet. By taking the deliberate decision to leave the article online, Associated Newspapers made a mockery of the entire IPSO remedy.”
The Mail‘s Oct. 2016 print and online article was headlined, “Revealed: How top QC ‘buried evidence of Met bribes to put innocent man in jail.'” The article has been unpublished, but the article claimed Wass, according to the Press Gazette:
“attempted to bury damning evidence that police officers responsible for investigating [someone she was prosecuting, Bhadresh] Gohil had taken bribes;
“that she had backed the bringing of baseless further criminal charges against Gohil for perverting the course of justice, when in fact she knew he was an ‘innocent whistleblower’;
“that she had lied to the Court of Appeal,
“and that she knew evidence had been tampered with before being placed before the court.”
The Mail on Sunday declined to comment on the record about the matter. The Mail published a June 16 apology to Wass that read:
“On 9 October 2016 we published an article under the headline “Revealed: How top QC ‘buried’ evidence of Met bribes to put innocent man in jail”, which alleged that Sasha Wass QC faced professional ruin because, while acting as prosecution counsel, she had attempted to bury evidence of police corruption.
“We also said that Ms Wass had backed baseless criminal charges against and prosecuted a man whom she knew to be an innocent whistle blower; that she was aware that tampered-with evidence had been placed by the prosecution before the Court and that she had deliberately lied to the Court.
“We accept that these allegations were completely untrue and apologise unreservedly to Ms Wass for the distress and embarrassment caused by our article. We have agreed to pay her substantial libel damages as well as her legal costs.”
Wass earlier successfully complained to the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation but sued because she wasn’t happy with the result.