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Defamation. Mr Vittorio Feltri acquitted from Woodcock charges

The magistrate was offended by an article published in 2006. But the Supreme Court judged it was not a crime but an “a rudeness, which is not punishable”, a “fall in style”

Mr Vittorio Feltri, columnist for Il Giornale, was acquitted by the Supreme Court from the charge of defamation against the magistrate Mr Henry John Woodcock. The reasons for the decision, taken last October, were announced on January 30th.

THE JUDGMENT – “Educators teach that to make fun of the name of others is an act of rudeness, but rudeness is not a criminal offense”: this is the motivation that led to the decision of the judges (read the sentence no. 4628 from the fifth penal section). Mr Woodcock believed himself to be damaged by an article published in the newspaper Libero on June 17th, 2006 (entitled Che bordello, hanno arrestato il re… – What a brothel, they arrested the king… on the arrest of Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia), in which Mr Feltri had approached the magistrate’s surname to a vulgar and widespread English expression.

The Court of Monza, for aggravated defamation, convicted Mr Feltri in the first degree. The Court of Appeal of Milan confirmed the indictment.

For the Supreme Court, “in reading the text of the newspaper article, it does not appear that the author commented on the news of the arrest of Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia in such terms as to doubt the correctness of the work of Mr Woodcock, or, more generally, his professional qualities”. MF

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