One aspect of Rachel Riley’s libel case against me – that I rarely discuss – is the effect that more than three years of hostility, stress, anxiety and uncertainty have had on me and my family.
But I may have to, when the case comes to court in July; if I win, the judge will want to know about how the lawsuit has adversely affected me, before announcing any level of reparation.
And it will be hard for me to quantify. Together with my nearest and dearest, I have been living under constant threat for so long that I can no longer remember how it feels not to have a huge financial threat held over me.
I could discuss the strangeness of being sued over a matter that most people would have settled by contacting me to say I was mistaken, explaining how, and requesting a correction.
Rachel Riley didn’t do this. You may draw your own conclusion about what this means for the factual accuracy of her case.
Instead, she demanded a huge amount of money from me, under threat of taking me to court and taking a huge amount more (by adding court costs to the total).
That’s a coercive tactic – holding me under threat. “Give me this or the consequences will be worse.”
I didn’t have the kind of money she wanted anyway, so I had no choice but to look for another way to respond – and for a way to fund that response.
I had never engaged a solicitor before, and I knew that my choice would be extremely important for the future of the case. That caused additional stress.
I knew I would have to crowdfund my response but I also knew I was a not-very-well-known internet journo and had no reason to believe I would be able to raise anything approaching the kind of sum needed to mount a successful defence. Hindsight has shown that this was a mistake, but I didn’t know that at the time, so I faced more mental agony.
After I had started the crowdfund and found my lawyer, there commenced what became years of confrontation with Riley’s representatives. How do I describe the constant hostility to a judge?
There have been multiple court hearings. How do I describe the stress of having to travel all the way from Mid Wales to London, to sit in strange surroundings while other people argue about me?
Plus, how do I describe the uncertainty of being forced to stay at home during Covid-19 lockdown, while my representatives (and Riley’s) argued over what she and I were said to have done?
After a High Court judge struck out all my defences on the basis of unsound information (one of my defences was later restored, remember), how do I describe the vertiginous mental lurch while I scrabbled to think of a way forward?
I have often mentioned the ways in which it seems to me that Riley’s team has tried to prolong the case, in order to drain my funds and prevent me from getting to a trial by what I consider to be underhanded means. How do I describe how I felt about having to keep going back to my funders to explain why huge amounts of your money had been spent, with no apparent progress?
How do I describe all of that and more, without turning incandescent with rage at the way Riley has wasted – and blighted – so much of my time?
I don’t know yet – but with your help I certainly hope to be able to try.
That’s why I’m still asking for your help – in all the usual ways:
Make a donation via the CrowdJustice page. Keep donating regularly until you see the total pass the amount I need.
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.
Use other social media in the same way.
By my reckoning, there’s not far to go, now, until we should be fully-funded. We’re down to four figures (less than £10,000) and getting closer to goal every day.
And wouldn’t it be good to put some stress onto the heads of Rachel Riley and her team, for a change?
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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