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Anita Singh
October 22, 2014
Lady Gaga the polo pony in High Court libel battle
By Anita Singh
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 :: Posted 09:43:37 AM EDT


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Lady Gaga the pony
Lady Gaga, the polo pony Photo: ImagesofPolo.com

With a name like hers, perhaps Lady Gaga the polo pony was destined to be a video star.

So it was that her YouTube debut kicked off a controversy that went all the way to the High Court after she was accused of being “unsuitable for children” – a description that has also been applied to her famous namesake.

Kate Gibbons bought Lady Gaga – so-named because her unusual colouring set her apart - for her son in September 2012 from Louisa Donovan, a dealer who specialises in polo ponies.

Within weeks, she claimed that the pony was unsuitable for her children to ride and attempted to get her money back.

After that attempt failed, in February of that year she arranged for her son or husband to upload two videos to YouTube, showing Lady Gaga bucking while being lunged.

The caption named Mrs Donovan’s company and read: “Louisa Donovan sold this polo pony as being suitable for children. Downright dangerous and a scandal they get away with this.”

Four months later, a third video was uploaded with the same footage and caption. All remained on the YouTube site until February this year.

Mrs Donovan, a member of Guards Polo Club, began libel proceedings. Yesterday the matter was settled out of court, with Mrs Gibbons agreeing to pay costs and damages, after a judge ruled that the words used in the video were defamatory under common law.

Judge Parkes said that “the ordinary, reasonable person watching the video will have concluded that the claimant had sold the defendant a dangerous pony as being suitable for children, even though she must have known that it was in fact wholly unsuitable for them.

“That conduct would plainly entail a reckless preparedness to put the children at risk,” he said.

The wording of the caption “is of course unarguably defamatory of the claimant in a personal, as well as a business, sense”.

Mrs Gibbons, of Bisley, Surrey, had denied libel and claimed the videos were just “honest opinion”.

Eleven-year-old Lady Gaga has now returned to Mrs Donovan in Henley-on-Thames, Berks, who bought her back in December last year.

Mrs Donovan said: “We had no trouble with her before we sold her in September 2012 and have had no trouble with her since. But because of the videos she has become unsaleable.

“Since getting her back I have ridden her and played her at Guards and had no problems. She is a very good little pony.

“I’m very relieved this is over. Nobody likes litigation but we felt we had no choice. It’s your name and reputation and also the reputation of the pony, who didn’t deserve to be slurred like that.”

The pony was already named Lady Gaga when she first arrived at Mrs Donovan’s yard. “She has a lot of white in her coat, which is quite unusual for a thoroughbred as they are usually bay or dark bay, so I think that’s why she got the name.

“I always called her Lady, but it is Lady Gaga in her passport.”


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