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Supreme Court of Denmark

Statements amounted to defamatory charge 

Case no. 303/2012

Judgment delivered on 17 January 2013

The Public Prosecutor

The High Court had found the accused guilty of offending former judge A's honour by making statements containing a defamatory charge

The main issue in the case was whether the accused had infringed s. 267 of the Danish Penal Code by making statements about former judge A, which the accused made during an interview on the television channel TV2 News on 6 October 2009. The reason for the interview was that the Eastern High Court on that day during the hearing of an appeal against the District Court of Hillerød's judgment of 10 April 2007 had added to the accused sentence by sentencing him to two years' imprisonment for abuse of office and aggravated criminal breach of trust. The District Court of Hillerød had also sentenced the accused to two years' imprisonment, and A was the presiding judge in that criminal case before the District Court of Hillerød.

The Supreme Court agreed that the statements made by the accused during the television interview amounted to a defamatory charge within the meaning of s. 267 of the Penal Code, and that the charge, if it were true, could have caused A to lose his office pursuant to s. 146 of the Penal Code.

Based on a general weighing of the consideration for the right to freedom of speech of the accused and the consideration of the injured person's reputation and confidence in the justice system, the Supreme Court found that the defamatory charge stated by the accused was unfounded under s. 267 or s. 269(1) of the Penal Code, as interpreted in light of art. 10 of the European Human Rights Convention.

The Supreme Court noted that the sentence and the declaration that the statement was unfounded had to be regarded as proportionate sanctions pursuant to s. 10(2) of the European Human Rights Convention.

The Supreme Court sentenced the accused to 10 day fines of DKK 1,000 each and declared some statements unfounded. 

The Supreme Court thus affirmed the judgment of the High Court. 


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