The term Innuendo means an explanatory statement in the plaint to be given by the plaintiff to the effect that though the alleged words are not libelous in their ordinary meaning, in fact, they have specified underlying libelous meaning in the circumstances of the case. Sometimes, apparently or prima facie a statement may not expose defamatory meaning . But in the particular circumstances the words may convey an insulting meaning in the manner in which they are spoken. So Innuendo means a statement which is prima facie innocent but the plaintiff pleads an underlying defamatory significance to it. In that event the plaintiff must state in his pleading the circumstance which makes it actionable
As for example if A says ,” Mr. B is a very honest man, he never stole my watch.” In the above circumstances the statement is defamatory . The innuendo or the under lying or real meaning is that B, being dishonest , in fact , did steal the watch of A .
In the case of Cassidy v. Daily Mirror , the defendants published in a newspaper a photograph of one M.C. and a Miss. X, together with the words “Mr. M.C., the racehorse owner and Miss X, whose engagement has been announced.” In an action by the plaintiff, the wife of M.C., it was held that the publication was capable of conveying a meaning defamatory of the plaintiff, viz, that she was not the lawful of M.C. and was living with him in immoral cohabitation.
In another interesting case of Francis Mezzora, the defendant , who was a portrait painter, was employed by a person to paint his portrait. Upon completion, the customer refused to accept and pay for the portrait on the ground that the job was not done well. Thereupon, the defendant painted a pair of asses’ ears on the portrait, and put it up for sale. The Court held that there was actionable libel.