Legal Updates

A public officer is not immune from claim for defamation even if the defamatory statements were made during a city council meeting

April 5, 2020

An elected official attributed severe corruption conduct to his political opponent during a city council meeting.
The Court held that the statements constitute defamation. False and defaming statements should not be protected under law even if they were said during a city council meeting convened under law. Israeli law lists a number of cases where certain statements are considered permissible and provides for such publications an absolute protection. Such is the case, for example, where publication was made under law, a publication was made under the order of an authorized authority, or a publication was made under the permit of an authorized authority. Here, a city councilor attempted to block the appointment of a political opponent for deputy mayor and during a council meeting for the election and appointment of local office holders made against him abusive falsehoods attributing to him an act of bribery. A councilor is allowed to express his views and present to the attendees his position on the shortcomings and lack of qualifications of the candidate, but is not "legally obliged" to spread false and damaging statements and therefore the publication is not considered as "permitted statement".