Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The food sucks

Okay then. We can feel free to say the food is lousy again.

Judge quashes libel ruling against restaurant critic

In an important victory for press freedom, a Belfast court has ruled that restaurant critics should be able to review an eatery without fear of being sued for libel.
Northern Ireland's Court of Appeal on Monday overturned a jury's decision to award libel damages of 25,000 pounds against the Irish News for a scathing pizzeria review that appeared in 2000.

The Irish News had originally been ordered to pay the damages to Goodfellas pizzeria in west Belfast, following a negative review by Caroline Workman.
In the article, Workman -- a former editor of the Bridgestone restaurant guide -- criticised the food, the staff and the smoky atmosphere.
According to the pizzeria, Workman's words were defamatory, and a High Court jury agreed with the restaurant .

But lord chief justice Brian Kerr ordered a retrial after arguing that the original trial jury had been misdirected, citing confusion over what was fact and what was comment in the article.
"Only if the jury has a clear understanding of what is capable of constituting comment, can it address the thorny issue of whether the facts on which comment is based are capable of justifying the comment made," he said.

Irish News editor Noel Doran told The Guardian that the ruling "sent out a strong message that newspapers had to be entitled to publish fair, reasonable and informed reviews."
He added that the paper had been "completely vindicated".
Workman also welcomed the verdict and was quoted by the Guardian as saying: "Nobody likes a bad review, but if I can't write honestly, good reviews are pointless."

But Goodfellas owner Ciaran Convery said: "In my eyes it makes a farce of the judicial system when a jury is overturned ."