The Sun ordered to pay Labour MP Richard Burgon £30,000 for false claim his metal band used Nazi imagery

Newspaper said ‘S’ on artwork was similar to that used by Hitler’s paramilitary organisation the SS, but politician demonstrated it was a Black Sabbath ‘spoof’

Chiara Giordano
Wednesday 06 February 2019 16:57 GMT
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The Sun has been ordered to pay Labour’s shadow justice secretary £30,000 in libel damages after claiming a heavy metal band he performed with used Nazi imagery.

Richard Burgon sued the newspaper over an article from April 2017 which claimed he had joined a Leeds band that “delights in Nazi symbols”.

The Labour MP for Leeds East said an image tweeted by the band Dream Tröll, which appeared to use the “S” from the logo of the notorious Nazi paramilitary organisation the SS, was a “spoof” of Black Sabbath’s 1975 album We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its political editor Tom Newton Dunn argued the image was “strongly reminiscent of Nazi iconography” and that Mr Burgon “demonstrated terrible misjudgement and exposed himself to ridicule”.

Giving judgment at the High Court in London on Wednesday, Mr Justice Dingemans ruled in Mr Burgon’s favour on his claim for libel, awarding him damages and an injunction to prevent further publication of the article.

But the judge dismissed Mr Burgon’s claim for malicious falsehood, finding that “Mr Newton Dunn was acting honestly when he wrote the story”.

Following the ruling, Mr Burgon tweeted: “Delighted to have won my High Court case against The Sun.

“Their slur attempting to link me to ‘Nazi symbols’ was held to be false and defamatory.

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“The judge ordered The Sun to pay £30,000 in damages. With that I’ll fund a paid justice internship for a young person from Leeds.”

In a statement after the ruling, a spokesperson for The Sun said the newspaper would be appealing against the ruling.

He said: “We are deeply disappointed by this judgment and we will be appealing.

“We fundamentally disagree with the judge’s conclusions and, furthermore, fear they may act as a brake on the ability of the free press to hold those in power to account and to scrutinise the judgement of those who aspire to the highest offices in the land.”

The spokesperson said the publication did “not feel that this ruling pays adequate attention to the need to hold politicians to a higher standard than private citizens”, adding that it does “not agree with the judge’s conclusions on the substance of the image at the heart of the case”.

Press Association contributed to this report

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