The Reynolds Defence
There is a reason behind the familiar line “Mr. X could not be reached for comment” or “Ms. Y refused to comment on the matter”. And that reason is the Reynolds Defence. It made me let out a very loud ‘aaaah!’ when I realised it while reading Frances Quinn’s Law for Journalists. It evolves around publishing allegations against a public figure or on a matter of public concern. The publisher, in order to avoid being sued for defamation, needs to provide proof that they have made an attempt to contact the person or company in question and have given them a fair chance to answer to the allegations. If, however, the publisher failed to obtain comment, then the publisher needs to state that fact, in order to acknowledge that the article they are publishing will only be covering one side of the story and may not provide all the necessary information to form a well-rounded opinion of the matter. It’s truly fascinating, really! It’d made me want to become a lawyer that specialises in media cases.