Boston Globe editors say a jury's decision that it did not libel former Gov. Edward J. King in a column accusing King of meddling in the judicial system is a victory for the right "to speak and write about the actions of government."

A nine-woman, seven-man jury deliberated for three hours Thursday before ruling that the newspaper did not defame King. That decision came despite the fact jurors found the charge contained in a Nov. 8, 1981, column by former Globe columnist David Farrell to be false.But the superior court panel ruled that the sentence "King called a judge and demanded he change a decision he had rendered in a gang rape case" did not discredit the one-term governor "in the minds of a considerable and respectable class of the community."

Under the four-part questionnaire provided jurors, the questions of reckless disregard of the statement's falsity and any actual damage were not considered after jurors determined the statement did not discredit King.

Superior Court Judge James P. Lynch immediately dismissed the two counts against The Globe and Farrell.

"After seven years of litigation, the jury has reaffirmed the rights of all people - including columnists and cartoonists - to speak and write about the actions of government," Globe Editor John S. Driscoll said.