Rachel Riley has withdrawn her libel case against Jane Heybroek, and it seems they will pay part of her costs in an agreement that – surprisingly – does not include a demand for confidentiality.
Here’s Jane’s statement on Twitter:
We did it! ❤️🌹
Thank you to every single one of you who has supported me over the past months. It has been quite a battle.
Please read the following statement, and share. Please, especially, note the last part of it, and be kind. x
You are all amazing.
Qui audet vincit. pic.twitter.com/7GJ6eiY9k8
— CrémantCommunarde#ActivistLawyer ⚖️ 😷 ✋ (@0Calamity) July 29, 2020
“I am Jane Heybroek, a barrister specialising in immigration work. I was the subject of discourse on Twitter, and reports in the mainstream media, earlier this year, as a result of a libel claim being brought against me by the television presenter Rachel Riley and the actress Tracy Ann Oberman.
“I am now able to report that the claim against me has been withdrawn and that Ms Riley and Ms Oberman have agreed to make contributions towards my legal costs. I wish to thank everyone who has helped me in the last 18 months; it will not be forgotten.
“Ms Riley and Ms Oberman are not personally known to me. Their claim saw them seeking damages and costs in respect of my re-tweet of a tweet by the blogger Shaun Lawson, which contained a link to a blog article he had written about them in January 2019.
“Mr Lawson’s article, which concerned the celebrities’ alleged behaviour towards a teenage Labour supporter on Twitter in January 2019, had been re-tweeted/shared by hundreds of people. Some of those people were threatened with legal action like me; others were not.
“Ultimately, despite press reports which suggested as many as 70 people might face legal action, I was the only person who was sued.” [Before people question this, she’s saying she was the only one sued for retweeting a link to the Lawson article. I’m being sued over my own piece that was based on it, and a member of the band Reverend and the Makers settled before proceedings went to court.] “This was despite the fact that I had deleted my re-tweet before I had even received Letters of Claim. I did not even know how long my re-tweet had been live for. Neither, it seems, did Ms Riley or Ms Oberman.
“There was no evidence, that I am aware of, to suggest that anyone had read the blog article as a result of clicking the link in my re-tweet. There were also various other ways in which the claim against me could have been (and would have been, had it proceeded) defended.
“Ms Riley and Ms Oberman were being represented, from the very outset, on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, and had ‘after the event insurance’. This meant that there was almost no risk to them in bringing the claim. Many people would have felt forced to settle for reasons of pragmatism. Whilst I am in a more fortunate position than most, after having spent almost £30,000 by a very early stage, it was clear to me that I would have no prospect of funding my defence to trial without help. I therefore launched a fundraiser on the website CrowdJustice.com, and was overwhelmed by the response which I received.
“Due to the support of a great many people, I was able to continue to retain leading defamation lawyers, and properly contest the case.
“I am making this statement for the benefit of those who have supported me emotionally and financially, and to address one other issue.
“Ms Riley and Ms Oberman’s vocal stance against antisemitism (and perceived antisemitism) has been widely documented, as has their involvement in other legal cases. This claim, however, did not actually involve any allegations of antisemitism against me or indeed Mr Lawson.
“I understand that Mr Lawson is himself Jewish and that his grandmother was a holocaust survivor. For my part, I abhor all forms of racism. Unfortunately, as a result of the litigation, I was subject of a number of nasty comments from a small minority of people who simply presumed to know what the case was about and what the outcome would be. They were wrong on both counts.
“Finally, as I have said throughout to those who have supported me, I ask people, for their own sakes, not to discuss the content of Mr Lawson’s article, nor to comment on Ms Riley or Ms Oberman on social media more generally.
“Notwithstanding the fact that I am a lawyer by profession, this has been a long, and at times exhausting experience, and I would not wish anyone to find themselves on the receiving end of legal action.”
This is an excellent outcome for Jane.
And it gives hope for my own case.
Part of Ms Riley’s libel case against me concerns my own reference to Mr Lawson’s articles. I have applied to the court for this aspect of the case to be struck out and have no doubt that this will happen at a hearing on November 6.
With that and Ms Heybroek’s case in mind, and also considering Ms Riley’s recent tweet that appears to encourage her followers to provide information that she can use to start more libel cases, I think my own case is becoming stronger by the day.
Ms Heybroek’s case was crowdfunded and so was mine – and I still need help. If you would like to provide some, here are the details:
Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.
Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.
Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.
On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.
On other social media platforms, please mention the campaign there, quoting the appeal address.
This battle is won, but the war isn’t over yet.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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