The Supreme Court has definitively rejected the claim for violation of the right to honor of the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, for a poem entitled From nuns to deputies, published in November 2017 in a magazine of the Francisco de Vitoria Judges Association. Montero denounced that said poem, which alluded to his relationship with the then leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, was “an intolerable sexist mockery.” The Civil Chamber of the high court settles the case and considers that the verses are protected by freedom of expression and that this “satirical criticism (…) must be supported by the affected public office.”
The questioned poem, signed with a pseudonym, read: “Deputy Montero / Ex-partner [sic] from the “Coleta” / He is no longer in the limelight / For a restless fly / He goes with Tania to the henhouse ”and was signed by the pseudonym of The Ranger Valsain. A court of first instance agreed with Montero and sentenced the judicial association and the editorial committee of the magazine to compensate the current minister with 70,000 euros. However, the Provincial Court of Madrid revoked this ruling, and now the Supreme Court has rejected Montero’s final appeal and imposes payment of the costs.
Quarrel between prosecutors
The processing of this appeal had other implications. It provoked a confrontation between the prosecutors of the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court and the attorney general, Dolores Delgado, who asked said Prosecutor’s Office to incorporate new paragraphs to its report to include the gender perspective in its arguments. The prosecutor in charge of the case, Adrián Zarzosa, refused to modify the brief, a position that was assumed by the provisional head of the Civil Prosecutor’s Office, José Miguel de la Rosa, both considering that said report was already exhaustive and that the additions proposed were unnecessary.
Sources from the Civil Prosecutor’s Office argued that this reaction occurred after initially the discussion centered on the possibility that the prosecutors requested the admission of the appeal. The Attorney General, in turn, denied that there was any pressure to change the meaning of the ruling. After various efforts in which the Supreme Prosecutor, Juan Ignacio Campos, participated, the arrival of a new head of civil prosecutors, Pilar Martín Nájera, resolved the conflict with the introduction of a single paragraph with a few lines to underline the gender perspective in the text. The report, in turn, maintained the criterion that Irene Montero’s appeal should not succeed, considering that the poem constituted an exercise of the right to freedom of expression.
This thesis has now been assumed by the Supreme. The sentence appealed to the Civil Chamber had dismissed the claim filed by Irene Montero and annulled the compensation of 70,000 euros that the author of a satirical poem and the editorial committee of the Francisco de Vitoria Association magazine had to pay him for interference in his honor, personal privacy and own image. Said compensation was set by the court of First Instance in which the litigation originated and which did uphold the lawsuit filed by the minister when assessing the violation of the aforementioned rights.
In its judgment —of which magistrate María Ángeles Parra has been a speaker—, the Supreme Court indicates that, as the Public Prosecutor’s Office warns, examining the “poem” as a whole, it is appreciated that the author intends “to criticize in a sarcastic way the correlation that, in his opinion, exists between those who maintain personal relationships with the secretary general of the political party to which the plaintiff belongs and the treatment and position they occupy in the party. The fact that the plaintiff is a partner of the secretary general of the party to which they both belong may, logically, be the object of criticism.
The Chamber imposes on Irene Montero the payment of the costs of the process and indicates that it does not share the conclusions of the appellant from the apology note of the defendant association, before the publication of a text that could not be to the liking of many associates for his bad taste, and in view of the treatment given to the poem and the news by the media.
The ruling explains that the fact that the text was disseminated by a professional journal of judges does not necessarily reverse the prevalence of freedom of expression over the right to honor. It adds that, as the Audience warns in view of the test carried out, “texts with the same mocking and satirical character were published periodically by the same author and under the same pseudonym in the association’s magazine, which included publications not strictly legal ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.