Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Prebble v Television New Zealand Ltd  1 AC 321, any court of place outside of Parliamentary walls cannot call into question or doubt the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings that take place within Parliament.
- It was held that the above would be seen as an impediment to Parliamentary privilege.
Facts of the Case
- C was an MP and D was a New Zealand based TV corporation.
- D asserted in his allegation against C that C is corrupt on television.
- C brought a case of libel against D and wished to clear his name from the words presented by D. C wished to use evidence from parliamentary proceedings to do so.
- C wished for the action to be struck down as it was seen that such an investigation into parliamentary proceedings would be deemed as an infringement on parliamentary privilege under Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1688.
- Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1688 provided the following provision: “The freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.”
- C stayed his action, awaiting a waiver from Parliament to allow the investigatory process. This, however, did not come to fruition.
- C appealed to the Privy Council against the stay.
- Could the exercise of parliamentary privilege stay proceedings under Article 9?
Held by the Privy Council
- It was held that parliamentary privilege could be exercised to stay the claim under Article 0 of the Bill of Rights.
- The appeal against the stay was allowed here because D’s evidence would not be taken from parliamentary proceedings.
- It was found that Article 9’s intention is to protect the overall integrity of Parliament. This means that a decision by an individual does not have the capacity to override Parliamentary privilege. As such, the stay on the proceedings was rightfully justified.
- “The burden of the libel relates to acts done by members of the government out of the House to which questions of Parliamentary privilege have no application.” [338-339]