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Rerendum Party cannot claim libel

A judge ruled yesterday that Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party could not bring an action for libel.

Allowing political parties to sue for defamation would impose an undesirable fetter on free speech in a democratic society and was against the public interest, Mr Justice Buckley ruled.

Sir James and the party had complained in writs about a report headed "Goldsmith looks for dignified exit from election race" in Sunday Business on 23 March. The judge gave leave to appeal.