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3 Nov 2022

The Guardian

UK: High court dismisses James Dyson libel claim against Channel 4 News over allegations of worker exploitation at one of his suppliers’ factories

"High court dismisses James Dyson libel claim against Channel 4 News", 31 Oct 2022

A high court judge has dismissed a libel claim brought by Sir James Dyson against Channel 4 over allegations of exploitation of workers at one of his suppliers’ factories.

Dyson sued Channel 4 and ITN over the 10 February edition of Channel 4 News, which reported on legal action brought by several workers at a plant in Malaysia.

The billionaire entrepreneur claimed the broadcast falsely said he and his two companies – Dyson Technology and Dyson Ltd – were complicit in systematic abuse and exploitation of the workers.

But Mr Justice Nicklin disagreed, ruling that the report was not defamatory of Dyson because the allegations referred to none of the three parties.

The programme featured interviews with workers at ATA Industrial who said they faced abuse and “inhuman conditions” at the factory.

The judge was asked to decide several preliminary issues in the claim, including whether the programme defamed Dyson and the two companies...

Nicklin found that while Dyson was named and pictured in the programme, the entrepreneur was not defamed. Accordingly, his claim was dismissed...

The judge was also asked to decide whether the two companies were referred to in the broadcast. He found that two “candidates” identified by the broadcast would be a company trading with ATA and a company involved in a so-called PR operation accused of attempting to hide the alleged abuse.

He said that if Dyson Technology and Dyson Ltd were not those companies referred to, they would not be able to continue the libel claim.

“It may be possible for Dyson to put forward a revised claim on behalf of the current corporate claimants, or for claims to be brought by other companies in the Dyson group,” he said.

Nicklin added that he had not reached “any concluded view” on the meaning of the programme in relation to the two companies.