Despite the limited exception introduced by statute in 1974, the principle that truth is and ought to be a complete defence to all actions in defamation is typically regarded as self-evident in modern English law. The fact that England stands here against not only the whole of the civilian tradition but also a number of common-law jurisdictions suggests, however, that it is not. This article, after surveying the history of the principle in English law and the debates that it has spurred in the past, argues that English law is right on this question, but needs to understand more cogently why. This, in turn, requires an examination of the interests protected by the cause of action. It is only if we accept that it is, and is solely, reputation founded in character that the defence of veritas will be secured.