Channel Four claimed a landmark victory yesterday when a US judge ruled that Ali G, the character created by Sacha Baron Cohen, is so absurd that "no reasonable person" would take him literally.
Heddi Cundle, a British-born woman who now lives in the US, was seeking damages for what she claimed were defamatory comments made on HBO television in 2004.
Interviewing the American writer Gore Vidal, in the character of Ali G, Cohen suggested that the US constitution should be scrapped rather than constantly amended.
He explained: "Me used to go out with this bitch called Heddi Cundle and she used to always be trying to amend herself. Y'know, get her hair done in highlights, get like tattoo done on her batty crease, y'know gave the whole thing shaved very nice but it didn't make any more difference. She was still a minger."
Ms Cundle, who met Cohen 20 years ago in Israel, claimed that these comments were untrue and damaging. HBO twice settled out of court, but Channel Four, which holds the worldwide rights, fought the action. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Friedman said: "The Ali G character is absurd, and all his statements are gibberish and intended as comedy. No reasonable person could think otherwise."
C4 controller Prash Naik said: "This is an important ruling for Channel 4 and sends out a clear signal that we will not hesitate to fight unmeritorious claims of this nature."