13:26, December 13 130 0 theguardian.com

2018-12-13 13:26:04
Standup comedian's husband drops defamation case

The estranged husband of an award-winning comedian who was suing her for defamation over material in her standup show has dropped the case.

Thomas Reay was also suing Louise Beamont (stage name Reay) for breach of privacy and data protection, arguing that he was identified without his consent in photos and videos in the show.

He was claiming £30,000 in damages plus legal costs and seeking an injunction to prevent her publishing statements about him, including, he said, allegations their relationship was abusive.

The case raised concerns that if Beamont – who faced bankruptcy – lost, it could prevent comedians from using material about their loved – or unloved – ones in standup shows.

However, a short statement issued by both parties said they would not be going to court. It read: “A settlement has been reached, which has resulted in the claimant discontinuing the proceedings. Both parties have agreed to make no further comment following settlement.”

Posting it on her fundraising page, Beamont added: “I am really grateful for the support I have received for this case. Thank you!”

At the time proceedings were launched, Beamont, the 2015 alternative new comedian of the year, described it as “the very definition of our [comedians’] job to talk about our lives and social issues. So this has become a free speech issue – and free speech means everything to me.”

Personal experience, however harrowing, has long been a rich mine to seam for comedians. The case raised the hackles of others in the industry with Nish Kumar, Josh Widdicombe and Sara Pascoe among the standups who appeared at a West End benefit git for Beamont.

David Baddiel, whose show My Family: Not the Sitcom, talks about his father’s dementia and his mother’s hyperactive sex life, said: “It would be a pity if the outcome of this case meant that comedians’ versions of their histories would have to be constantly checked by lawyers before they could be told on stage.”

The lawsuit, described by a leading lawyer as a test case, related to Hard Mode, Beamont’s show, billed as as a “provocative show [that] explores censorship and surveillance”; though one critic described it as being “at its core … about a very recent and raw heartbreak”.

Her mother, Jane, wrote on the GoFundMe page, which exceeded its £10,000 target: “Fighting this lawsuit has been really tough on my daughter Louise and the whole family, and we are incredibly grateful to all the amazing people who have helped us achieve a discontinuance of the legal proceedings and a settlement.”

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