Rachel Riley reckons Strictly Come Dancing, the ratings-topping BBC show from which she was fifth to be voted off in 2014, is “fixed”.
The claim was the second outlandish accusation in an interview with The Times that has been widely reported. The other was an attempt to say transgender activists who criticised the author JK Rowling for comments on the subject were actually anti-Semites attacking her for criticising Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism.
Once again – as with the Rowling claim – Riley provided no evidence to support her statement.
And this time she did not bother to make it a statement of opinion.
She said she thinks that producers “know from the start who they want to win and what journeys they want to take different people on, to have the right balance”.
Then she claimed that, in order to achieve this, “they can obviously fix the scores”.
Strictly‘s producers could, in theory, sue her for libel. Her comment brings the show into disrepute and, considering the effect winning has on celebrities’ careers, could be construed as saying that the show has deliberately harmed the livelihoods of some contestants.
I note that Riley herself claims to suffer post-traumatic stress after her own appearance on the show. Her interview could be construed as a call for others to take further action against the show.
But it seems she feels safe in making her claim because it is hard to disprove outright. Strictly‘s producers have responded, saying: “This claim is categorically untrue. The BBC has strict procedures and editorial guidelines in place regarding impartiality and Strictly upholds all of these.”
But it is unlikely that the BBC invites impartial observers to watch those procedures being followed. And how can anyone be sure that an automated voting scheme involving millions of viewers can’t be rigged?
Still, I trust the BBC over Riley. Claims without evidence tend to be considered false.
She has also claimed that I libelled her by publishing an article pointing to evidence that she abused and harassed a 16-year-old girl with mental health issues after the girl challenged her support of a claim that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was anti-Semitic.
If I can crowdfund enough money, we will go to court for a trial in July.
The difference should be clear: my article pointed to evidence. I can show the information that led me to believe what I was saying. And I really want to!
With the BBC (among others Riley has wildly accused) ducking out of taking action, my case is your chance to see her get her comeuppance.
To help ensure that you get that chance, here’s how to contribute to the crowdfund:
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.
Riley’s behaviour suggests that she thinks she can say anything she likes and get away with it.
Let’s prove that she is mistaken.
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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