Rachel Riley libel trial: did this celebrity STALK a vulnerable teenage girl?

In the normal course of events, being blocked on Twitter would end contact between two users; the blocked user would not be able to read or respond to tweets by the person who blocked them.

In my last report, I explained how I told the High Court that Rachel Riley angered a teenage girl called Rosie so much – with her gaslighting, DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender), dogpiling and other tactics – that the girl did just that.

But it seems to me that Riley then circumvented that block, monitoring Rosie’s further interactions on Twitter in order to use them in an attack on her.

Before I get to that, though, let’s all take note that, just two days after Rosie blocked Riley, she posted this on Twitter:

Given the volume and strength of the abuse that had been sent to Rosie by followers and supporters of Riley over the previous few days, can anybody – apart from Riley’s legal representatives – doubt the truth of this claim?

Sadly, Rosie’s next comment on Riley was a misstep. On December 31, 2019, she tweeted: “I had to block Rachel Riley because honestly, she’s such a self-entitled knob. Somebody put it perfectly to me – she has a mouth but no ears. Instead of listening to evidence, she shouts racist to everybody making a valid point.”

Needless to say, this attracted criticism, but Rosie’s response throws light on her feelings about Riley’s behaviour at the time: “It’s okay for her to relentlessly bother me? [Another Twitter account] can tell you how much abuse we have received. Calling someone a knob is nothing in comparison to what we have recurved [sic].”

This is a clear indication that Rosie considered Riley’s Twitter threads of December 2018, and her demand that she disown comments she had never made, to be acts of harassment – and that she had suffered abuse, either in those tweets or as a result of them, or both.

Rosie expanded on this further on January 8, 2019, when Riley announced that she had recorded a podcast on online bullying. She tweeted the following:

So now I could see that Rosie considered Riley to have encouraged others to dogpile her.

I explained dogpiling tactics to the judge in some detail. The nature of these is such that they put distance between the person encouraging the dogpile and those carrying it out.

Consider the tactics used in Riley’s first thread – tagging-in friends she thought would be sympathetic and then gaslighting with a false claim about the subject of her dialogue with Rosie – that it was about general anti-Semitism within the Labour Party rather than an unsupported claim of anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn. Those people, as victims of such general anti-Semitism, were likely to take offence and take such action as they deemed fit – either attacking Rosie themselves or publicising what Riley had tweeted to others who would.

The attacking tweets would therefore come from people who were at such a distance from the person inciting them that they could claim they were not to blame. But would Rosie have suffered abuse like this –

– if Riley had not written what she had about her?

Claims that another person is an anti-Semite are highly damaging – especially if the target of those claims is entirely innocent, as Rosie was.

I pointed out to the judge that forthcoming legislation against so-called “online harms” will be a dead letter if courts are unable to understand and accept the way dogpiling is orchestrated.

Riley herself was to make much stronger such assertions in the very near future, because on January 9, 2019, she launched a third Twitter thread about Rosie.

This one was notable because it all appeared at once – robbed by the block of the possibility of sending messages to Rosie, Riley abandoned the “drip-feed”, harassing, effect of tweeting every two or three minutes and published the whole thread at the same time – 7.38am.

She referred to her podcast with Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy, then tweeted:

How did Riley get hold of a tweet by Rosie, published on January 8, 2019, nearly a month after she was blocked from seeing any tweets by Rosie at all?

The judge pointed out that the image in the tweet was a screenshot of a retweet by somebody else. Riley would not have been able to see Rosie’s message in a retweet because Twitter would simply have sent her a message saying she was not permitted to see it.

So either she logged out of Twitter to view Rosie’s tweets (or, in this case, @LabourFanTV’s retweets) anonymously, she created a different Twitter account in order to monitor Rosie, or a third party was monitoring Rosie on her behalf. This would, by definition, amount to participation in a campaign of abuse/harassment against Rosie, that is against the law.

All these acts would qualify as “monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication” which is an offence of stalking as defined in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The Act states that such behaviour amounts to stalking if “the person whose course of conduct it is knows or ought to know that the course of conduct amounts to harassment of the other person”. Riley had been blocked by Rose for “pestering” her. Under Twitter rules, she was expected to leave Rose alone. She did not. She circumvented the block in order to gain access to Rose’s tweets for her own purposes – to publicise them in order to attack Rose.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 outlines harassment offences as “causing alarm or distress” and “putting people in fear of violence”. Rose had already raised the alarm about the distress caused to her by Riley’s followers after Riley tweeted her December threads.

It seemed clear to me that Riley had committed offences under the Protection from Harassment Act and/or the Protection of Freedoms Act.

Riley went on to present screenshots of her dialogue with Rose – that she admitted taking herself:

It’s possible that she had taken these screenshots in December 2018 – before the block – but that in itself would be strange and aberrant behaviour. Who takes screenshots of all their communications with another person, in the expectation that they will be able to use such information to attack that person later? It seemed to me that malice was implicit in Riley’s decision to do so.

The claim that the tweets presented here were “how it all started” is, of course, false. It all started with Riley’s false claim about Jeremy Corbyn.

A couple of tweets later, Riley published a tweet linking Rosie with anti-Semitism:

When I was studying journalism, way back in the 1990s, the danger of juxtaposition was hammered into me – and this is a prime example of it.

The issue here is that a statement that may be innocuous on its own can have a defamatory meaning as a result of being placed next to other material. In this instance, the comment that Labour Against Anti-Semitism writes a weekly review of anti-Semitism, next to tweets by Rosie and references to denials of an anti-Semitic attack would be enough to suggest that Rosie herself was an anti-Semite.

Many readers would be unlikely to think beyond the fact that Rosie’s tweets had been connected with a line about weekly reports on anti-Semitism. I myself was wrong-footed by this tweet, and spent a large amount of time wondering how Riley had worked out that Rosie’s messages here were anti-Semitic. I published in my Serial abuser… article that Riley had included Rosie’s tweets as an example of anti-Semitism because that is how it appeared to me. I only realised later that, as Riley had been publishing screenshots of her dialogue with Rosie, in sequence, throughout her thread, these were simply the next part of that dialogue.

The law is clear on this, though: if the tweet, taken as a whole, is capable of having a defamatory meaning, then it is defamatory. So, again, it seemed clear to me that Riley had, even if inadvertently, accused Rosie of being an anti-Semite.

In this tweet –

– Riley admitted calling for Rosie to “reconsider her comments about Jews being fed lies” – comments that Rosie had never made.

The next tweet shows a screenshot of a Rosie tweet from December 31, 2018 – after Riley had been blocked. We see no evidence that anybody other than Riley had anything to do with the taking of the screenshot. therefore we may conclude that Riley herself was responsible for it, having monitored Rosie’s tweets ever since Rosie imposed the Twitter block:

Riley’s tweet also includes an outright lie. It can’t have been the last thing she knew Rosie had written about her if she had already published a screenshot of a tweet Rosie wrote eight days later (see above).

In her next tweet, Riley claimed that Rosie’s comments had “a direct parallel with anti-Semitism”:

As with many of Riley’s tweets, the claim is not made clear but it seems to be that Rosie was perpetuating falsehoods, in the same way that the anti-Semitic tropes listed in Riley’s tweets contained lies about Jews.

It’s another lie, of course – Rosie had not said claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party were untrue, so she was not putting forward falsehoods about those alleged incidents.

But the connection between Rosie and anti-Semitism, made in a previous tweet, was strengthened here, although the comparison doesn’t work. Rosie had not suggested that Jews control the media or used any of those other tropes; she had simply pointed out that a television celebrity had made a false claim about a politician.

It is also another dogpiling tactic – comparing an action by another person with an unacceptable activity in order to encourage others to take offence – and, possibly, to criticise the subject of this comparison on the social media.

Now consider the comment that Riley had removed Rosie’s Twitter handle. This is presented as an attempt to anonymise the vulnerable teenager and protect her from further abuse and/or harassment. But in fact, it achieved nothing of the sort. Rosie’s profile picture was clearly visible, making it possible to trace her via a reverse image search; so was her first name; and of course the text of all her tweets to Riley was faithfully reproduced, meaning anybody wanting to trace her could simply have carried out a search of some of those sentences, using Twitter’s advanced search facility. Riley had not protected Rosie’s identity at all.

With this in mind, you should know that, as a whole, the 13-tweet thread amassed more than 3,000 Twitter likes, 547 replies and 553 retweets – considerably more than Riley’s threads of the previous month. The reason for this seems to be summed up in this comment by a third party:

And this one:

And this:

And this:

And, finally and most disturbingly, this:

It seemed clear that, despite her repeated protestations that people should not target Rosie for dogpiling, that is exactly what Riley had, once again, done.

But it seemed to me that the tide was also turning against Riley, as people were beginning to realise the consequences of her behaviour toward a vulnerable teenage girl. For example:

Next time, I’ll discuss (briefly) the day Riley’s friend Tracy-Ann Oberman spent incessantly tweeting Rosie while she was at school/college, trying to study for her exams, and Riley’s fourth thread in which she made it possible for abusers to trace Rosie to her actual home.

I still have to finish paying for my legal representation at the trial. If you are as horrified by the above information as I was when I read it in early January 2019, please support my CrowdJustice fund in one or more of the following 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.

And don’t forget that if you’re having trouble, or simply don’t like donating via CrowdJustice, you can always donate direct to me via the Vox Political PayPal button at the bottom of this article, where it appears on that website. But please remember to include a message telling me it’s for the crowdfund!

I really want to pay off the last of my debt to my legal team before the judge delivers her verdict – which could happen at any time although we don’t believe it will happen before the new court term begins in October.

This is because I fear the verdict may go against me – despite the damning evidence I provided in court and have been reproducing here. If it does, I will have to seek funding for an appeal – and we already know how expensive they are.

Please help now – if you can.

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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