The Court of Appeal has been in touch to ask whether it would be possible for Rachel Riley and I to solve our differences via mediation.
I heard about it shortly after reading a comment on the social media that the justice system is creaking under the weight of its caseload, so my immediate thought was that this was an attempt to clear the books.
My second thought was to check how much it would cost: something like £950 plus VAT. Is that a reasonable use of the money that you have sent me?
Finally, I considered the facts of the matter:
As a reporter, I am always open to the idea of mediation at the appropriate time. Everybody in my profession knows that we can get stories wrong – because we don’t have a particular piece of information or because an act was presented to us in a particular light, or for any other reason.
That’s why we listen to complaints about stories, investigate them if necessary, and make alterations. It’s why newspapers have a “corrections and clarifications” column.
Rachel Riley had the opportunity to make a complaint about my article after it was published in January 2019 but she did not. Her solicitor, Mark Lewis, contacted me publicly on Twitter with a threat of litigation that I refused to take seriously because it was made inappropriately. He did not provide any details of factual inaccuracies. Without such details, either from Riley or Lewis, I could not go back and check. I had been given no reason to.
When Lewis’s law firm Patron Law sent me notice that it was to pursue legal action on behalf of both Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman in March 2019, the letters included copies of the pre-action protocol on defamation which mentions mediation. As this had been sent by Riley’s solicitor, I expected to be contacted with a request for mediation to take place but, again, I heard nothing.
I would have been happy to discuss Riley’s issues with her at any of those times. It seems extremely late to do it now. What would it achieve? We’re at a point where she has forced me to raise and spend an eighth of a million pounds fighting what I very much consider to be a false claim against me – is she likely to pay that money back? I don’t think so. My name has been smeared left, right and centre across the national news media and the social media as well. Even if she offered to make reparations for that, how could she possibly achieve it? Mud always sticks.
For those reasons – and I’m sure you could think of more – I think mediation this far along the process is a waste of time. If the other side has something worthwhile to say, though, I will still be happy to consider it.
I understand the other side has communicated with my legal team to say that, while we may not agree on much, they feel sure we agree that there is no point in mediation. So it seems that is settled.
In the meantime, it seems that we are still in this for the long haul – and that means I need 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.
Remember: I have no idea when my appeal is likely to be brought before the court.
Please help me ensure I am ready for 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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