The Court of Appeal has granted me permission to appeal against an order striking out my defence against Rachel Riley’s libel claim against me.
Firstly I must thank all of the readers and contributors who supported my crowdfunding campaign. You made this happen and without your generosity I would have had no way to defend myself against an aggressive attack.
Secondly: the court is allowing me to appeal on only one element of my defence – that publication of my article was on a matter of public interest. This is the end of the line for my defences of truth and honest opinion.
I can now reveal that I never held out much hope for my ‘truth’ defence. The High Court has made it clear that it would not entertain such a defence unless I was able to produce a tweet from Rachel Riley in which she declared herself to be a bully and demanded that all her followers should pile abuse and harassment on a teenage girl.
That simply isn’t a realistic expectation. It doesn’t mean the girl did not receive abuse, and discussion of the manner in which it came to her is certainly a matter of public interest.
I am sorry to see that the court doesn’t think I can defend the publication of my honest opinions. The Defamation Act allows me to rely on any fact that existed at the time my statement was published, and I had plenty of material available to me that would have allowed me to support my beliefs. Sadly, the court won’t hear it – at least in this context.
It is wholly possible to win the case on a ‘public interest’ defence. I have established a host of reasons why it was in the public interest for me to publish my article – and I am sure you can think of a few yourself, just off the top of your head.
I will not be making those arguments in the Court of Appeal. I will simply be putting forward reasons why I should be allowed to do so.
And I don’t need to do anything at all until Riley lodges what’s called a “respondent’s notice” and her skeleton argument against me.
All underlying proceedings are suspended while the appeal process takes place and while the court order does not mention it, the High Court costs order must also be suspended as it will be subject to alteration if I win the appeal.
And I can win the appeal.
And I can then go on to win the case.
Sadly, it will cost more money to get that far but – joyfully, if I win – Riley will have to pay it all back.
Therefore I repeat my request for funds. Please:
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 CrowdJustice site.
I don’t know how long we have to wait for the court to hear my appeal. This means I don’t know how soon I will need to provide payment for it.
But I will keep you informed, as ever, of all new developments.
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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