The former Secretary-General of NATO, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, lost a defamation action he brought against the owners of the Sunday Herald newspaper in respect of an article published in the paper in 2003, reporting and commenting on the settlement of an earlier defamation action between the parties.  The latter action related to an anonymous reader posting on the Sunday Herald website which falsely alleged a link between Lord Robertson and the Dunblane primary school shootings in 1996 (see previously No 381).  Lord Robertson argued that the article repeated the defamation and further defamed him by suggesting that his approach to the case had been bullying and irrational in pursuit of a specious claim, and sought £25,000 damages.  Lord Reed rejected the claim in an opinion issued on 28 June 2006 ([2006] CSOH 97).  From a legal point of view, the most interesting aspect of the case is Lord Reed’s discussion of the rule that reporting a defamatory allegation can be found to convey the same imputation – and therefore liability – as the allegation itself.  For this purpose, a publication must be considered as a whole, holds Lord Reed, although there may be practical difficulties in concluding that a report which contains a defamatory statement is none the less incapable of conveying a defamatory imputation.  In this particular case, however, the whole tenor of the Herald article was that the allegations against Lord Robertson were untrue. 


The Registrar-General of Scotland published statistics on the first quarter of civil partnerships on 22 June 2006.   A total of 343 have been recorded since the Civil Partnership Act came into force in December 2005.  From January to March 2006, 259 civil partnerships (167 male and 92 female) were registered, with a further 84 (53 male and 31 female) in December 2005, bringing the number to 343.   Marriages in the first quarter of 2006 (3,493) were down by 9 per cent on the first quarter of 2005 (3,834).


After his air strip on 18 May 2006 (see No 557), Steve Gough, the Naked Rambler, was convicted at Edinburgh Sheriff Court of breach of the peace and public indecency on 23 June, and sentenced to four months within the solid walls and grounds of Saughton prison.  As usual Gough declined to dress for his court appearance.  The evidence led showed that he had spent 20 minutes or so in the plane toilet, causing a stewardess to start getting worried, before emerging in all his glory; and that while some passengers had smiled or giggled, and taken photographs with their mobile phones, others had appeared surprised or shocked by his sudden appearance.  Released on 19 July, Gough attempted to leave prison naked and was re-arrested.  On 25 August he was sentenced to a further seven months in prison.