Remember England’s Richard Burgon? We first told you about this metal lovin’ Labour Party Shadow Justice Secretary (meaning he shadows the UK’s Secretary of State for Justice) and MP (Member of Parliament) back in 2017. That’s when Burgon made a guest appearance on an album by the group Dream Tröll, whose use of a the Nazi SS font led the tabloid The Sun to report that Bourgon has “join[ed] a heavy metal band that delights in Nazi symbols.”
Thing is, the image which led The Sun to this conclusion was immediately recognizable as a play on the cover of Black Sabbath’s We Sold Our Souls for Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Since The Sun is owned by the notoriously conservative Rupert Murdoch, and the Labour Party is traditionally liberal, the story seemed suspiciously like a political hatchet job and not just neglectful reporting.
Luckily, London’s high court agrees. The Guardian reports that they’ve named Burgon the victor of a libel case against The Sun, ruling that the story caused Burgon “significant harm.” The Sun has consequently been ordered to pay Burgon £30,000 (roughly $39,000) in damages.
From the ruling by Justice Sir James Michael Dingemans:
“When dealt with fairly there is a story to be had. 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 ‘SS’ symbol.”
Justice Dingemans did, however, dismiss a separate claim of malicious falsehood against the original article’s author, Newton Dunn, because he believes Dunn was “acting honestly” when he wrote the story and was sincerely unaware of the Black Sabbath connection.
The Sun argued “that Burgon was attempting to use lawyers to shut down criticism” of the Labour Party for allegedly including antisemites. They plan to appeal the ruling, which a spokesperson for the tabloid asserts will “act as a brake on the ability of the free press to hold those in power to account and to scrutinize the judgment of those who aspire to the highest offices in the land.”
The Sun is so obviously full of shit I can smell it all the way over here in Brooklyn. Fingers crossed they lose the appeal, too.
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