ON March 29, 2005, the Observer published a letter titled 'Naked flights to Jamaica' criticising the promotion by a travel website on behalf of Hedonism III, operated by SuperClubs. Its chairman John Issa sued the newspaper for defamation in the Supreme Court, in connection with which a ruling was recently handed down. Following are excerpts from the lengthy transcript of the trial in Justice Kay Beckford's Court:
Charles Piper (Observer's attorney): "...in relation to Hedonism, the Hedonism brand, the image of nudity or clothing optional is one which you have projected?"
John Issa: "It's part of the Hedonism brand image, underlying part."
Piper: "What do you mean by underlying part?"
Issa: "Because the way you ask the question it sounds like that was the predominant image."
Piper: "Does your company have a website?"
Piper: "And specifically does Hedonism have a website?"
Piper: "What's the name of the website?"
Piper: "...And this is a page from your website?"
Piper: "Would you agree that the predominant theme on that page is nudity?
Issa: "No, because one, two, three, four -- I haven't done a statistical thing, but most of the pictures show people with clothes and the headline here is 'Sold' and this looks like it's a page where members sign up."
Piper: "Well let's see what it says."
Justice Beckford: "Where people sign on?"
Issa: "Yes, sign on, because it says join now and it says 'members log in'. I am not familiar with every page on the site so..."
Piper: "You see, the first sentence there: 'You can always spot a Hedonism guest, hand all over and wearing his smile for what seems to be no reason at all'?
Piper: "Be wicked for a week, they say, and images of pleasure and passion, decadence and debauchery, simmer and sizzle."?
Piper: "So that's the part of your hotel's image that you wish projected?"
Piper: "Am I correct in saying that you are proud of that image?"
Issa: "I haven't used that word, but I am satisfied with that image."
Piper: "Are you proud of that image?"
Issa: "No, I am happy with that image."
Piper: "So you are not proud of that image?"
Issa: "No, I don't think the word proud applies to my feelings, I am very satisfied with this image."
Piper: "You need to answer my question, are you proud?"
Issa: "I am answering you the way I have answered it."
Piper: "Are you proud?"
Issa: "I am very satisfied with that image."
Piper: "Very well, I will accept that. Are you satisfied with the image of your hotel being connected with decadence and debauchery?"
Issa: "I would have selected different words if I was writing this site or if I had seen it. I would have used 'Bacchanal' instead of 'Debauchery', decadence I would have to think on."
Piper: "But you agree with me that it is out there as part of your image?"
Piper: "And you are now saying that you are not really satisfied with it?"
Issa: "I am generally satisfied, but I am talking about one word out of many."
Piper: "My question was, were you satisfied?"
Issa: "Yes, I am satisfied with it."
Piper: "You are also satisfied with the imagery presented in the next sentence: Here you can feel free do your thing, your way, because we believe that what you do and with whom you do it is entirely your own affair"?
Piper: "And you are also satisfied with the words at the foot of the page 'When it's good it's oh so good, and when it's bad it's even better and yes, everything you ever heard is true'?"
To be continued