Actress Awarded Damages of £38,000 For Libel

December 2003


Actress Dame Diana Rigg has accepted the sum of £38,000 for libel and breach of privacy in a High Court action against the London Evening Standard and the Daily Mail. The newspapers had both published articles which said that the actress, famous for her inconic role as Emma Peel in The Avengers, was an ’embittered woman’, ‘lived in France’, was ‘critical of British men’ and had ‘retired’. None of these statements were true and Dame Diana had been upset by the way she had been portrayed and worried that the articles might harm her chance of securing work as an actress. Dame Diana has had a hugely successful television, film and theatrical career in the UK and worldwide. Under UK law a defamatory statement is one which brings the plaintiff into ‘hatred, ridicule or contempt’ or one which ‘lowers the plaintiff in the estimation of right thinking members of society’. Defamation in a permanent form is called libel. In the 1997 case of Burchill -v- Berkoff actor Stephen Berkoff won a libel action after being labelled ‘hideously ugly’ by writer Julie Burchill. £30,000 was awarded for defamation and £8,000 for breach of privacy. Dame Diana will also receive costs and an apology. Part of the settlement will be a donation to the Children with Aids charity which Dame Diana supports.


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