Metalhead politician wins lawsuit against ‘The Sun’ over alleged Nazi imagery
Leeds East Labor MP Richard Burgon won a lawsuit against conservative British tabloid The Sun over a false claim that a metal band he sang with used Nazi symbolism in a Black Sabbath tribute. Burgon, a metal fan, contributed guest vocals to a song from his friends’ band Dream Tröll. The song was included in their album We Sold Our Souls for Rock ‘n’ Tröll, the cover of which parodies Sabbath’s We Sold Our Souls for Rock ‘n’ Roll:
The Sun ran a story under the headline “Reich and Roll: Labour’s justice boss ridiculed after he joins a heavy metal band that delights in Nazi symbols” in April of 2017, The Guardian reports. The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn wrote the cover was “strongly reminiscent of Nazi iconography,” and that Burgon “demonstrated terrible misjudgement and exposed himself to ridicule.”
Burgon posted to Facebook in response, Sky News reports:
The other week, a local Leeds band – the wonderfully named Dream Troll, whose members I’ve known since we were all heavy metal-obsessed teenagers – asked me, for a bit of fun, to do a guest appearance on their new song, reading a few lines to add dramatic effect to a classic swords and sorcery-style heavy metal narrative. I grew up in Leeds with members of this band. I have known them since we were teenagers. They are not politicians. They play in a (non political) heavy metal band for fun after work and on weekends. They are ordinary, decent blokes and there’s not a racist or Nazi bone in their bodies. The real story is, they made a spoof/parody of the cover of a famous Black Sabbath record from the 1970s (Black Sabbath – We Sold Our Soul For Rock ‘N’ Roll). They are fans of Black Sabbath not neo-Nazis.
Burgon sued The Sun for libel and won damages of £30,000. Justice Sir James Michael Dingemans said in the ruling that the newspaper had pushed the article too far, adding, “when dealt with fairly there is a story to be had. One is about Mr. Burgon joining a band which as he knew took great pleasure in using Nazi symbols. The other is about Mr. Burgon joining a band which had produced an image based on the Black Sabbath album cover which used stylised ‘S’s, which some persons might consider to be similar to the ‘S’s used in the ‘SS’ symbol.”
The Sun plans to appeal the ruling, saying, in a statement, that it would “act as a brake on the ability of the free press to hold those in power to account and to scrutinise the judgment of those who aspire to the highest offices in the land.”