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British inventor Dyson loses Brexit libel claim

London, Dec 1 (AFP) Dec 01, 2023
The billionaire inventor James Dyson has lost a libel action against a British newspaper which commented on how he supported Brexit but then moved his business to Singapore, a judge ruled Friday.

The 76-year-old founder of the high-end appliance maker sued Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over an article published in January 2022.

In it, he was called "the vacuum-cleaner tycoon who championed Vote Leave due to the economic opportunities it would bring to British industry before moving his global head office to Singapore".

The article's author then commented: "Kids, talk the talk but then screw your country and if anyone complains, tell them to suck it up."

Dyson claimed in a High Court action that the claims made were a "vicious and vitriolic" personal attack but judge Robert Jay disagreed.

"In the present case the Claimant (Dyson) cannot demonstrate that he has suffered financial loss as a result of these publications," he ruled.

"Nor can he show that his philanthropic work, particularly directed to young people and schools, has been harmed in any way."

Dyson's lawyer claimed during a trial in London last month that the article was "a serious and unjustified slur" on his business and personal reputation.

In response, the newspaper publisher said it was an "honest opinion" and the article was "substantially correct".

An MGN spokesperson welcomed the ruling, saying it "upholds the rights of our columnists to share honestly held opinions, even about powerful or wealthy individuals".

A Dyson spokesperson responded by pointing out that the company employs 3,700 people in the UK, paid more UK business tax after leaving the EU than before and "continues to invest vast sums" in the country.

Dyson's company announced in January 2019 -- nearly three years after Britons voted in a referendum to leave the EU -- that it was moving its global HQ to Singapore owing to booming Asian demand.

At the time, chief executive Jim Rowan told reporters it was "not related to Brexit".

Dyson himself has repeatedly defended the move, his support for Brexit and his years of investment in the UK.

A survey published this week suggested a majority (72 percent) of Britons supported closer trading ties with the EU.


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