This was a case about defamation. It stemmed from an ecclesiastical proceeding in which parishioners of Gorbals accused their minister, William Anderson, of adultery. The ecclesiastical case advanced to the General Assembly, where Rev. William Porteous gave a speech defending Anderson and attacking the complainants. A version of the speech was subsequently printed in certain Edinburgh and Glasgow newspapers, with Porteous’s assistance. The complainants published a rebuttal in a Glasgow newspaper, accusing Porteous of calumny and abuse, and threatening to expose his own “curious tete-a-tetes.” Porteous sued the complainants for defamation. However, the complainants argued that they were merely responding to Porteous’s provocation.
William Morison, The Decisions of the Court of Session (1811), pg. 13937