British comedian sued by ex-husband for using stories about him on stage

British comedian Louise Beamont (stage name Louise Reay) is being sued by her husband for defamation.

21st February 2018
/ By Matthew Whitehouse

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Her ex-husband, Thomas Reay, who she married in 2013, is suing her for breach of privacy, to the tune of £30,000, potentially leaving her bankrupt if she doesn't win the case. 

The comedian says the show – which she took to Edinburgh Fringe Festival – featured very little in the way of details: "During that show, I referred to my husband a couple of times – perhaps 2 minutes' worth of reference in a 50-minute show. 

"The main gist of those references was to tell the audience how sad I was that my marriage had broken down recently."

Libel lawyer Mark Stephens told the Guardian: “There’s a long history of British juries – before they were abolished [in defamation cases] – not finding in favour of claimants when it’s a joke. 

"This will be the first time [the issue comes] before a judge. It’s going to be a test of whether the British judiciary understands a joke – I mean that seriously.

"It’s a test case for the judge to see whether they will follow the same route as juries used to take, which was to throw libel cases which were based on humour out on their ear. Judges have traditionally had something of a humourless side."

Louise has launched a gofundme page for anyone who wishes to assist her with legal fees and, at the time of writing, has raised £8,800 of a £10,000 goal.

Her GoFundMe page reads: “This has become a free speech issue - and free speech means everything to me. As a Chinese speaker, I’ve spent many years in China and experienced the social impact when people do not have this freedom. I’ve also spent many years making documentaries for the BBC with vulnerable people whose voices are rarely heard.”

In a statement from Thomas Reay's solicitors, it was claimed the routine had caused Mr. Reay emotional distress: “Beamont repeatedly performed a comedy show which identified our client verbally and, in still and moving images, contained private information about him and his relationship with Ms Beamont, and made very serious and inflammatory allegations of wrongdoing against him. 

"These allegations included the entirely false suggestion that our client’s relationship with Ms Beamont was an abusive one.”