Frankie Boyle has won more than 54,000 pounds in damages after a High Court jury concluded that he had been libelled by the Daily Mirror.
The comedian, 40, from Glasgow, claimed that the Daily Mirror defamed him by describing him as ‘racist’ and saying he had been ‘forced to quit’ BBC2 panel show Mock The Week.
Daily Mirror publisher Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) defended the article, published on July 19 2011. MGN said the ‘racist’ description was either true or ‘honest comment on a matter of public interest’.
And the publisher 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 on Monday (October 22) after a week-long trial in London. They awarded him 54,650 pounds in damages.
Boyle said during the trial that he would give any damages to charity.
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.
He 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 Boyle was ‘callous’ and ‘insensitive’.
Ronald Thwaites QC said jurors should not find in the comedian’s favour. And 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.