Is it just a coincidence that this happened a week after a High Court judge decided that ‘blue tick’ Twitter users should not be considered responsible for the behaviour of their followers?
Clearly the ruling by Mrs Justice Collins Rice, in Rachel Riley’s case against me, is factually wrong. The experience of Huffington Post reporter Nadine White simply underlines the fact.
Ms White had emailed Tory equalities minister (surely a contradiction in terms?) Kemi Badenoch to inquire why she had not supported a pro-vaccine video by participating in it.
Badenoch had responded by putting the emails on Twitter alongside a comment that they were “creepy and bizarre” and the HuffPost was “looking to sow distrust”.
Labour has demanded an investigation into whether this breached the ministerial code.
In a letter to civil service head Simon Case, the party said Ms White had been exposed to “a torrent of abuse online” – a dogpile.
Riley’s case against This Writer also concerns questions about whether the TV parlour game-player deliberately intended to expose a teenage girl with mental health issues to a torrent of abuse also.
The world “torrent” has been applicable to Twitter dogpiles since the case of Jack Monroe and Katie Hopkins, in which the word was used to describe the number of messages Ms Monroe received after Hopkins tweeted a false claim about her.
It was also disputed. But Mr Justice Warby stated that “‘Torrent’ is a noun, used metaphorically here. It may be colourful, and may tend to overstate what happened. But it is not an invention and nor is it in my judgment a serious distortion.”
This means even if the size of the dogpile against Ms White was not very large, the description may still be applied justifiably.
Labour’s involvement is hypocritical though. It comes from a political party whose members (including MPs) have also triggered dogpiles – for example against This Writer after The Sunday Times falsely accused me of holocaust denial (on the basis of false information leaked by – guess who? – a Labour Party officer).
I am appealing against the judgment that suggests ‘blue tick’ Twitter users can publish anything they like about other people without having regard for the possible consequences to those people.
If I win – and evidence including the Warby judgment suggests that I may – then this could have severe consequences for a minister who tried to discredit a journalist who seems merely to have been doing her job.
I am crowdfunding for the means to win my case, which is proving extremely costly because of the behaviour of Riley’s legal team. Information about that is available here (a search for “libel Mike Sivier” should reveal the necessary links).
Anyone interested in helping is urged to do one or more of the following:
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.
Justice isn’t for everybody – not in Tory Britain. It’s too expensive for most of us.
That doesn’t mean we should let a government minister – who should know better – inflict retaliatory harm against somebody who was only doing her job.
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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