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He said that in cases of libel it was for the judge to give a legal definition of the offence which he defined as being:'A publication, without justification or lawful excuse, which is calculated to injure the reputation of another, by exposing him to hatred, contempt, or ridicule . .'It is to be noted that in Tournier v National Provincial Union Bank of England Ltd [1924] 1 KB 461 at 477, [1923] All ER Rep 550 at 557 Scrutton LJ said that he did not think that this 'ancient formula' was sufficient in all cases, because words might damage the reputation of a man as a business man which no one would connect with hatred, ridicule or contempt.

Atkin LJ expressed a similar opinion ([1924] 1 KB 461 at 486-487, [1923] All ER Rep 550 at 561):'I do not think that it is a sufficient direction to a jury on what is meant by "defamatory" to say, without more, that it means: Were the words calculated to expose the plaintiff to hatred, ridicule or contempt, in the mind of a reasonable man? not only is the matter defamatory if it brings the plaintiff into hatred, ridicule, or contempt by reason of some moral discredit on [the plaintiff's] part, but also if it tends to make the plaintiff be shunned and avoided and that without any moral discredit on [the plaintiff's] part.

For that reason, albeit with hesitation, I hold that to call a person "hideously ugly" is defamatory. The question of fact: libel or no libel, is a matter for the jury.

If justification is pleaded, that will involve the jury deciding whether the plea is made out.'The Law Before stating my conclusion I propose to examine the relevant question of law under three headings. But the court has jurisdiction to rule that as a matter of law words are incapable of being defamatory.

The words of which he complained are irrelevant for present purposes, but it is to be noted that Holt CJ said (3 Salk 225 at 226, 90 ER 1132):'Scandalous matter is not necessary to make a libel, it is enough if the defendant induces an ill opinion to be had of the plaintiff, or to make him contemptible and ridiculous; as for instance, an action was brought by the husband for riding Skimmington, and adjudged that it lay, because it made him ridiculous, and exposed him.'It seems that the reference by Holt CJ was to the decision in Mason v Jennings (1680) T Raym 401, 83 ER 209, where the phrase 'riding Skimmington' was taken to imply that the plaintiff's wife beat him.(2) In Villers v Monsley (1769) 2 Wils 403, 95 ER 886 the plaintiff complained of some verses written by the defendant which suggested that the plaintiff smelt of brimstone and which included the line: 'You old stinking, old nasty, old itchy old toad . .' The court upheld the plaintiff's award of sixpence damages which he had received at Warwickshire Assizes. if any man deliberately or maliciously publishes any thing in writing concerning another which renders him ridiculous, or tends to hinder mankind from associating or having intercourse with him, an action well lies against such publisher. Nobody will eat, drink, or have any intercourse with a person who has the itch and stinks of brimstone; therefore I think this libel actionable, and that judgment must be for the plaintiff.'The other members of the court agreed.It is clear, however, that the court should exercise great caution before concluding that words are incapable of a defamatory meaning.In the present case the position is somewhat different because a specified meaning has been isolated and the preliminary issue requires the determination of the single question, whether that meaning is capable of being defamatory.The defendants then issued a summons pursuant to RSC Ord 14A seeking an order that the following question of law might be determined: '. As a subsidiary submission it was contended that such a description would tend to cause other people to shun or avoid Mr Berkoff. The scope of the present application No order has been made as to the mode of trial in this case.The judge stated his conclusion as follows:'I must say I am doubtful whether to call a person "hideously ugly" exposes that person to ridicule, but I have come to the conclusion that it is likely to lead ordinary reasonable people to shun the plaintiff, despite the fact that being hideously ugly is no reflection on a person's character or good reputation. One must therefore proceed on the basis that the action is likely to be tried, if at all, with a jury.

The words of which he complained are irrelevant for present purposes, but it is to be noted that Holt CJ said (3 Salk 225 at 226, 90 ER 1132):'Scandalous matter is not necessary to make a libel, it is enough if the defendant induces an ill opinion to be had of the plaintiff, or to make him contemptible and ridiculous; as for instance, an action was brought by the husband for riding Skimmington, and adjudged that it lay, because it made him ridiculous, and exposed him.'It seems that the reference by Holt CJ was to the decision in Mason v Jennings (1680) T Raym 401, 83 ER 209, where the phrase 'riding Skimmington' was taken to imply that the plaintiff's wife beat him.(2) In Villers v Monsley (1769) 2 Wils 403, 95 ER 886 the plaintiff complained of some verses written by the defendant which suggested that the plaintiff smelt of brimstone and which included the line: 'You old stinking, old nasty, old itchy old toad . .' The court upheld the plaintiff's award of sixpence damages which he had received at Warwickshire Assizes. if any man deliberately or maliciously publishes any thing in writing concerning another which renders him ridiculous, or tends to hinder mankind from associating or having intercourse with him, an action well lies against such publisher. Nobody will eat, drink, or have any intercourse with a person who has the itch and stinks of brimstone; therefore I think this libel actionable, and that judgment must be for the plaintiff.'The other members of the court agreed.

It is clear, however, that the court should exercise great caution before concluding that words are incapable of a defamatory meaning.

In the present case the position is somewhat different because a specified meaning has been isolated and the preliminary issue requires the determination of the single question, whether that meaning is capable of being defamatory.

The defendants then issued a summons pursuant to RSC Ord 14A seeking an order that the following question of law might be determined: '. As a subsidiary submission it was contended that such a description would tend to cause other people to shun or avoid Mr Berkoff. The scope of the present application No order has been made as to the mode of trial in this case.

The judge stated his conclusion as follows:'I must say I am doubtful whether to call a person "hideously ugly" exposes that person to ridicule, but I have come to the conclusion that it is likely to lead ordinary reasonable people to shun the plaintiff, despite the fact that being hideously ugly is no reflection on a person's character or good reputation. One must therefore proceed on the basis that the action is likely to be tried, if at all, with a jury.

In the course of the review, in a general reference to film directors, Miss Burchill wrote: '. In this review, which was published in the issue of the Sunday Times dated 6 November 1994, Miss Burchill described a character in the film called 'the Creature'.