Borat creator Sacha Baron Cohen has successfully defeated an $800,000 (£550,000) libel lawsuit against his former programme Da Ali G Show.

A female plaintiff, who sued as 'Jane Doe' claimed to have been physically, emotionally, and economically damaged during a skit in which Cohen interviewed US author Gore Vidal while in the guise of his Ali G character in 2004.

Ruling in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday April 21st, judge Terry Friedman ruled in favour of Cohen, Channel 4 and US channel HBO, citing the clearly "absurd" nature of Da Ali G Show.

The sketch in question saw Cohen appearing as Ali G and interviewing Vidal about amending the US constitution, during which he made reference to an ex-girlfriend who was constantly "amending herself".

"Ain't it better sometimes, to get rid of the whole thing rather than amend it 'cos, like me used to go out with this b***h called [Plaintiff's name] and she used to always be trying to amend herself," he said in the skit.

"Y'know, get her hair done in highlights, get like tattoo done on her batty crease, y'know gave the whole thing shaved and very nice but it didn't make any more difference," he went on.

"She was still a minger and so, y'know, me had enough and once me got her pregnant me said alright, laters, that is it. Ain't the same with the Constitution?"

Judge Friedman said "no reasonable person" could consider Da Ali G Show a factual programme, adding it was "obvious that the Ali G character is absurd, and all his statements are gibberish and intended as comedy".

"Prior to the reference to Plaintiff, while ‘interviewing’ the author Gore Vidal, Ali G refers to the Constitution of the United States as having been written on two tablets, clearly intended to confuse the Constitution with the Ten Commandments," he added.

"Altogether, the program is obviously a spoof of a serious interview program. No reasonable person could think otherwise."

The ruling in Channel 4's favour was only the second pro-media verdict of its kind in the US, after comedy show Saturday Night Live won a similar case.

C4 controller of legal and compliance Prash Naik commented: "This is an important ruling for Channel 4 and sends out a clear signal that we will not hesitate to fight unmeritorious claims of this nature."

22/04/2009 14:12:43