Producers Handbook

Defamation -v- Abuse

Note: defamatory statements can be distinguished from mere abusive ones in that they say something about the person being criticised that goes beyond mere insult. For example it would generally not be defamatory to say something like "I hate X, he's a tosser" or "I've got no time for X, he's a wanker", but it would be defamatory to say "I hate X, he's a tosser, he stole my bicycle" or "I've got no time for X, he's a wanker and a liar". Someone hearing the former statements would conclude that the speaker didn't like X but it wouldn't make them think less of X themselves. The latter statements, however, which attribute some anti-social or reprehensible actions on X's part are likely to make right-thinking people think less of him and are, therefore, potentially defamatory.