COMEDIAN Frankie Boyle has won more than £54,000 damages after a High Court jury concluded that he had been libelled by a tabloid newspaper.
• Frankie Boyle wins £50,400 damages from Daily Mirror
• Newspaper described him as ‘racist’
Boyle, 40, from Glasgow, claimed the Daily Mirror defamed him by describing him as “racist” and saying he had been “forced to quit” BBC panel show Mock The Week.
Daily Mirror publisher Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) defended the article, published on 19 July, 2011.
MGN said the “racist” description was either true or “honest comment on a matter of public interest”. It said the words “forced to quit” did not mean that Boyle had been sacked and were not defamatory.
But jurors ruled in favour of Boyle yesterday, after a week-long trial in London.
They awarded him a total of £54,650 damages.
The comedian, who said during the trial that he would give any damages to charity, did not comment to reporters immediately after the verdict.
Boyle had denied “punctuating” material with racist references or making “gratuitous” use of black people, during a trial in London.
He told the High Court that characters he played might express racist views, but he did not.
Boyle said he actively campaigned against racism and parodied racists – and claimed that the Daily Mirror had “misunderstood” the context of his use of language in jokes.
MGN lawyers said Boyle was a “racist comedian” who gratuitously exploited negative stereotypes of black people for “cheap laughs”.
A barrister representing MGN had told the jury that Mr Boyle was “callous” and “insensitive”. Ronald Thwaites, QC, said jurors should not find in the comedian’s favour. He said if jurors thought Boyle had been libelled, they should show their “contempt” by awarding damages of 45p – the price of a copy of the Daily Mirror.
Boyle said he was “very happy” as he left court and his his representative said he would make any further comments on the social media site Twitter.
The comedian has upset glamour model Katie Price over comments about her disabled son, and has also made jokes about gold medal swimmer Rebecca Adlington in the past.
His counsel, David Sherborne, admitted Boyle’s humour was deliberately challenging. The comedian would not have minded if his material had been called vile, tasteless or offensive, , but he did object to being called a racist, Mr Sherborne said.
Boyle said on Twitter: “I’m very happy with the jury’s 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 being anti-racist in my life and work and that’s why I brought this action.”
He confirmed that he would donate the money to charity.