AddThis SmartLayers

Regional journalist who made legal history dies at 66

A regional press reporter who was one of the first journalists to successfully use the Reynolds defence against a libel action has died at the age of 66.

Sheila Holmes, left, worked at the Yorkshire Post and its sister free title the Leeds Weekly News for more than 25 years after joining the company in 1982.

She successfully challenged a libel action in the High Court in 2000 using the Reynolds defence and her meticulous notes proved crucial in the landmark case, which related to a story about doorstep salesmen selling karate club membership.

The defence, which derives from the 1999 case of Reynolds v Times Newspapers, gives journalists qualified privilege for the publication of defamatory statements in the public interest.  It can be raised where it is clear that a journalist has a duty to publish an allegation even if it turns out to be wrong.

Sheila, who retired from journalism in 2008, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and died last week surrounded by her family at Dewsbury Hospital.

She oversaw the Leeds Weekly News for many years and in this role helped to train scores of budding news reporters as they started their journalism careers.

Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Stuart Robinson was one of those trained by her and paid tribute to Sheila.

He said: “Sheila’s knowledge of the industry and calm approach proved invaluable to the scores of budding reporters who she guided in their first forays into journalism.

“She was a very talented reporter and above all a warm and lovely woman. She will be sadly missed by all of us.”

Sheila was married to husband Nigel for more than 40 years and they had two children, Andrew and Vicky.


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • November 8, 2012 at 9:50 am

    An excellent journalist and a really nice person. She will be sadly missed.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • November 8, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Stuart makes the perfect tribute. Heartfelt condolences to Sheila’s family. It was an honour and a pleasure to have worked with her.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)