Controversial comedian Frankie Boyle wins £54,000 libel damages from Daily Mirror after newspaper calls him 'racist'

 

Frankie Boyle, the controversial comedian, has won more than £54,000 damages after a High Court jury concluded that he had been libelled by the Daily Mirror, when the newspaper called him “racist”.

Boyle, 40, from Glasgow, claimed that the Daily Mirror defamed him when it described him as a “racist comedian” and said he had been “forced to quit” the BBC panel show Mock The Week.

The Daily Mirror publisher Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) defended the article, which was published last year. MGN said the “racist” description was either true or “honest comment on a matter of public interest.”

MGN had said that Boyle exploited negative stereotypes of black people for “cheap laughs”. Boyle denied “punctuating” material with racist references or making “gratuitous” use of black people.

Boyle’s barrister David Sherborne had retold one of his client’s jokes about Britain’s involvement in foreign conflicts in which the comedian answered a phone and said, “Department of N***** Bombing. “Context is everything,” argued Mr Sherborne, who admitted that Boyle’s humour was extremist.

Boyle told the High Court that characters he played might express racist views, but he did not. The comedian said he actively campaigned against racism and parodied racists. He claimed that the Daily Mirror had “misunderstood” the context of his use of language in jokes.

The jury heard a gag which Boyle cracked about the Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington on Mock The Week in 2008. The publisher argued that the words “forced to quit” did not mean that Mr Boyle had been sacked from the show, which he left the following year, and were not defamatory.

But jurors ruled in favour of Boyle after a week-long trial in London. They awarded him a total of £54,650 damages.

Writing on Twitter, Boyle said: “I’m very happy with the jury’s decision and their unanimous rejection of the Mirror's allegation that I am a racist.

“Racism is still a very serious problem in society which is why I've made a point of always being anti-racist in my life and work and that's why I brought this action. I am giving my damages to charity.”

Boyle’s television future remains unclear. Channel 4 said it had no further plans to work with him after he made a series of tasteless Twitter comments about the opening of the Paralympics. Boyle continues to write a column for The Sun, the Mirror’s great rival, despite the outrage that his humour provokes.

A barrister representing MGN had told the jury that Boyle was “callous” and “insensitive” for joking about Jade Goody and Madeleine McCann.

Ronald Thwaites QC said jurors should not find in the comedian’s favour. He said if jurors thought that Boyle had been libelled they should show their “contempt” by awarding damages of 45p - the price of a copy of the Daily Mirror.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future