A newspaper report on a recent libel defeat suffered by Rachel Riley illustrates a serious problem faced by those of us she has been dragging to court: we cannot hope for a fair hearing in the press.
The report, in the Mail, referred not to my own case but to that of Jane Heybroek, who beat Riley’s – and Tracy Ann Oberman’s – case against her, and forced them to pay… some… of her court costs.
I won’t do the Mail the courtesy of visiting its website to see the article. I can quote from the Zelo Street report on it instead:
— Tim Fenton (@zelo_street) November 10, 2020
Apparently, tacked onto a bit of throwaway celebrity gossip about some new acting role for Oberman was the following:
“It comes after Tracy Ann and Rachel Riley dropped a libel action against an immigration barrister who retweeted an article accusing them of harassing a 16-year-old girl. Self-confessed ‘Buddhist Barrister’ Jane Heybroek shared an article by a blogger titled ‘Beneath Contempt: How Tracy-Ann Oberman and Rachel Riley harassed, dogpiled and slandered a 16-year-old child and her father’”.
It’s true that Riley and Oberman withdrew their case – it seems clear that they had to. They could not show that any defamation arose from Ms Heybroek’s tweet.
And what’s this about her being a “self-confessed ‘Buddhist barrister'”? That’s a label that I doubt any barrister would attach to herself. As Ms Heybroek herself tweeted:
I am not a ‘self-confessed Buddhist Barrister’. I am a Barrister and a practicing Buddhist. Do not attack me on the basis of my religion again, otherwise that is going straight to IPSO.
(That’s the Independent Press Standards Organisation – the often-toothless press watchdog.)
I asked my solicitor to intervene the last time you did this, and you amended your article. I will be asking him to intervene this time. If this happens again, I shall go straight to IPSO as this is a ‘course of conduct.
She also sent – or more probably re-sent – her full statement on the end of the court case and demanded a correction from the Mail:
@MailOnline @DailyMailCeleb Don't you have a duty to contact people about whom you are writing article? Here is my full statement in respect of Ms Riley and Ms Oberman withdrawing their case against me and paying towards my costs. Kindly correct: https://t.co/OfdLN4yWO4 https://t.co/TRx8m2UhEs pic.twitter.com/cWHBHA1sYe
— CrémantCommunarde#ActivistLawyer ⚖️ 🌻 ✋ (@0Calamity) November 10, 2020
In the end, it seems she was forced to bring in her legal team. Zelo Street reported that the Mail removed references to anti-Semitism in the article: “The inference made by including those references was clear, and potentially defamatory.”
The Mail had also distorted a previous judgement in the case – on the meaning of the words forming the basis of the complaint.
It seems clear from this behaviour that so-called little people like Ms Heybroek and This Writer cannot expect our cases ever to be reported accurately by papers whose editors think they’ll make more cash by publishing positive material about so-called celebrities.
It seems I need to crowdfund – not just to protect myself from the court attentions of Riley, but also in case the newspapers publish false information about me and I have to challenge them.
You can help – in these ways:
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.
I still don’t know when Riley’s application to strike out my own defence against her libel claim will come back to court, after it was adjourned from November 6.
Let’s make sure I’m ready to deal with whatever is thrown at me – and with whoever throws it.
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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