Category Archives: Television

Joy for Mike as he wins libel appeal against Rachel Riley

This is not the first time Vox Political’s Mike Sivier has had to fight allegations against him: in 2019 The Sunday Times had to publish a lengthy correction after it falsely accused Mike of being a Holocaust denier.

The Court of Appeal has handed down its judgment on my appeal against the striking-out of my “public interest” defence against Rachel Riley’s libel claim against me – and I have won.

You may recall that I appealed after a High Court judge struck out my defence without testing it in any meaningful way. Riley’s legal team responded to my appeal with an entirely new set of arguments which the Court of Appeal ruled were not only impermissible – they should not have been introduced at appeal – but were also wrong.

My article, over which Riley launched her libel case against me, alleged that she was a hypocrite because she complained about social media abuse against her, while her own tweets had led to abuse and threats against a teenage girl with mental health issues.

The judgment by Lord Justice Warby (and agreed by Lord Justice Henderson and Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court), included some very sharp comments [boldings mine], and let’s start with the big one:

In my judgment, it is plainly arguable, at the very least, that the Article was about matters of public interest. Indeed, it seems to me to be barely arguable that it was not.

This statement alone – it seems to me – will make it very difficult for Riley to prove that my article was not in the public interest when the case finally comes to trial.

Lord Justice Warby stated:

“[Two] of the grounds relied on in the Respondent’s Notice are entirely new points. So too is the additional contention that we should reject Mr Sivier’s pleaded case that he believed publication to be in the public interest. I would decline Mr Stables’ [Rachel Riley’s barrister] invitation to uphold the Judge’s decision on any of these additional or alternative grounds. These are not just points on which the Judge did not rely. None of them were argued before the Judge, in any form. We do not usually allow entirely new points to be taken on appeal. It is often procedurally unfair to do so, and normally wrong because appeals are by way of review not re-hearing. Ordinarily the place for arguments to be given their first run-out is the court of first instance. Any appeal would then be a first appeal. For those reasons I would be averse to upholding the Judge’s decision on any of these additional or alternative bases. But I would also reject these points on their merits. The Defence pleads all three of the essential ingredients of the public interest defence. Although it is imperfect in some respects it is not so deficient as to justify its summary striking out on any of these grounds.”

On the imperfections of my defence: this was a strike-out application, for which legal teams are discouraged from providing every aspect of their evidence in meticulous detail. The fact that my team have been criticised because they didn’t provide enough suggests that this is a matter for debate among those who work in the court system.

Lord Justice Warby continued:

“A major theme of the Article was the charge of hypocrisy. Mr Sivier was contrasting what Ms Riley had said to millions via the news media (Channel 4 News, The Times, and The Guardian) with her own public behaviour in front of hundreds of thousands on Twitter. Mr Sivier was suggesting that her public statements deprecating online abuse were at odds with her own conduct.”

He said:

“As for Mr Sivier’s pleaded contention that he believed that publication was in the public interest, I am not persuaded that we should take the exceptional course of rejecting it on the papers. It is a rare case in which it is possible to find, on an interim application, that a party cannot have held a state of mind which they have asserted. The Court will be very cautious before rejecting such an assertion without hearing or even reading evidence on the point. Particular caution is required in this Court, when there is no first instance decision on the issue, and the reason for that is that the Court of first instance was not invited to make such a decision.”

And he concluded:

The appropriate time and place for an evaluation of these issues is at a trial.”

The judgment as a whole appears to be highly critical of Riley’s Counsel, Mr Stables. It also points out errors by the High Court judge, Mrs Justice Collins Rice.

So, you may ask: what’s next?

The simple answer is: the trial (at long last).

My legal team and I will have to do a bit of work to ensure that the areas in which the Court of Appeal found my defence lacking are strengthened; I do not expect this to be particularly difficult.

I am also – again – calling for donations. While there is likely to be a costs order against Riley for the money I had to spend on my appeal, it is true that she won several aspects of her strike-out application, and it is likely that those amounts will cancel each other out – so I cannot rely on receiving a cheque from her to help me carry on, pleasant though such an outcome would be.

After more than two years of this, I’m sure you all know the drill:

Please – and only if you can afford it:

Consider making a donation yourself, 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 appeal.

I could not have taken the case this far without your help. You have been utterly invaluable and I cannot overstress my gratitude.

I’m seeing a huge amount of congratulations for me on Twitter and it is a joy to behold – but I would not be getting any of it without you.

Now let’s see this through to the end. A job part-done isn’t done at all, so let’s get on and win this at trial!

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Was Riley ‘deliberately provocative’ in tweeting about Nazis and eggs on day of Corbyn egg attack?

The Royal Court of Justice: because This Writer can’t be bothered to put an image of Rachel Riley on This Site.

Well, what do you think?

It seems only reasonable that after plastering Rachel Riley’s point of view all over the news media on Monday, the woman she’s suing for libel – Laura Murray – should have her side of the story published to the same audience.

I found a story in The Sun. What happened to everybody else? Why did the so-called “reputable” media force me to get my details from that rag?

Still, I guess now Ms Murray knows how This Writer has felt for the last two years of my own court case involving Riley. At least these media creeps are consistent with their favouritism…

As we all learned earlier this week, Riley said it was libellous for Ms Murray to say she had implied that Jeremy Corbyn was a Nazi when, on the day Corbyn was attacked by a man wielding an egg, Riley posted a retweet of a message saying that, if people don’t want to be hit with eggs, they shouldn’t be Nazis, along with the words, “Good advice”.

Ms Murray had also written that nobody should ever engage with Riley, and it was on this that much of the Sun report concentrated:

Ms Murray told the court Ms Riley was being “deliberately provocative” by tweeting “good advice” on the day that Mr Corbyn was egged.

Giving evidence, Ms Murray said: “All the tweets that I saw were saying ‘how can you call Jeremy Corbyn a Nazi?’

“I didn’t see any saying: ‘This is a comment on hypocrisy, this is a tweet on double standards’.”

‘The way it looked to be was that it was deliberately provocative and designed to provoke a reaction from the left.

“And it was getting that reaction, lots of people were saying ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s not a Nazi, that’s not a fair comparison to make’.

“Given that many, many people were criticising Rachel Riley like this, the purpose of my tweet was to advise people, as many as would listen, ‘don’t engage with this, it’s a waste of time, no one gets anything from it, it’s a huge waste of emotional resources’.

“Owen’s [Jones] tweet had always meant to me that Nazi’s deserve to get attacked, and she repurposed that advice and applied it to Jeremy Corbyn that was most obviously the language.”

In response to claims that Riley had been exposed to a Twitter “pile-on” (they meant a dogpile but Riley’s legal team seems to have difficulty using the correct language for these things; it’s as though they don’t understand what they’re talking about), Ms Murray said she was also subjected to an “explosion of abuse and hatred”.

So Ms Murray’s side is that, seeing Riley receiving a huge amount of criticism over her ‘Nazi’ tweet, she had tried to stop people from posting such material to the celebrity game-show host.

That’s a huge contrast with Riley’s claim that Ms Murray had triggered a dogpile against her. It seems more likely that she attracted her own criticism, in This Writer’s opinion.

And it seems that if Ms Murray triggered any adverse reactions, they were directed at her, not Riley.

But then, it’s up to the judge to decide.

The report also featured comments by Riley that she had feared for the future of her TV work as a result of Ms Murray’s tweet.

That’s all interesting background but it has nothing to do with whether Riley was libelled.

That can only be decided by Mr Justice Nicklin, on the basis of what Riley tweeted, what an ordinary, right-thinking, person might be reasonably expected to have thought she meant, and whether what Ms Murray tweeted in response corresponded with that.

I’ll provide further commentary next time I see a report on this.

Source: Ex-Corbyn aide who branded Rachel Riley ‘stupid’ claims star’s tweets were ‘deliberately provocative’ in court showdown

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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‘I didn’t call Corbyn a Nazi’ says Riley. Do you believe her?

Coming up roses: Jeremy Corbyn kept smiling both before and after the ‘egg’ attack at the Muslim Welfare Centre in Finsbury Park on March 3, 2019.

What a pleasure to be writing about a court case involving Rachel Riley, that doesn’t involve me as well!

The TV parlour game-player was in the High Court today, giving evidence in her libel case against Laura Murray, a former aide of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The details of the case are laid out clearly in the Yahoo News report, here:

Ms Murray had posted [a] tweet on March 3, 2019, after an egg was thrown at Mr Corbyn, who was then the Labour leader, by a Brexit supporter when he was visiting Finsbury Park Mosque, in north London.

She had been responding to a tweet posted by Ms Riley, Mr Justice Nicklin was told.

Ms Riley had initially retweeted a January 2019 tweet by Guardian columnist Owen Jones, about an attack on former British National Party leader Nick Griffin, in which Mr Jones had said: “I think sound life advice is, if you don’t want eggs thrown at you, don’t be a Nazi.”

She had added “Good advice”, with emojis of a red rose and an egg.

Later, Ms Murray had tweeted: “Today Jeremy Corbyn went to his local mosque for Visit My Mosque Day, and was attacked by a Brexiteer.

“Rachel Riley tweets that Corbyn deserves to be violently attacked because he is a Nazi.

“This woman is as dangerous as she is stupid. Nobody should engage with her. Ever.”

The article continues:

Ms Riley was questioned by Mr McCormick.

He suggested that Ms Riley’s tweet had generated a Twitter debate around whether or not she had called Mr Corbyn a Nazi.

Ms Riley accepted that she regarded Mr Corbyn as “anti-Semitic”.

But she said she had not called Mr Corbyn a Nazi and added: “I didn’t use the word Nazi.”

In fact, Mr Justice Nicklin had already made a ruling on the meaning of Ms Murray’s words that did not include any claim that Riley had called Corbyn a Nazi.

That being said, when he reviews the case, he will see that on the day Mr Corbyn was attacked with an egg, Riley published a tweet saying people who don’t want to be attacked with eggs should not be Nazis, adding the remark “Good advice”.

Riley might have meant any number of things when she published her tweet, and she can say whatever she likes about it now. We have no way of knowing whether any of her claims about it now are accurate. That’s why the judge has to rely on the tweet as published, in the context in which it was published at the time.

His job will be to decide, not whether Riley wanted to indicate that Corbyn is a Nazi, but whether a right-thinking member of the public was likely to draw that conclusion from what she had published.

Please don’t respond to this article with your own interpretation of the tweet’s meaning (at least, not until after the judge returns his verdict).

But feel free to consider for yourself what you think Riley’s tweet meant.

The case is continuing throughout the week and should be extremely interesting to all of us.

Source: Countdown presenter’s reputation damaged by ex-Corbyn aide’s tweet, court told

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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£2.6 million was spent on Downing Street TV studio for nothing as media briefings scrapped

The briefest of briefing rooms: your local parish council could have done a better job, and cheaper, but Boris Johnson gave the contract to a company based in a hostile state. Now it is being withdrawn from service. How many times was it used?

Boris Johnson has scrapped plans for White House-style press briefings from a new £2.6 million TV studio in Downing Street – meaning he spent all that public money for nothing.

Apparently the room will be used for internal government briefings by Johnson and his ministers instead. They could do that in any ordinary Whitehall office.

Most of us have been doing much the same from our own homes, using Zoom, Skype, or even Facebook Messenger.

The decision confirms what This Writer believed – that this was nothing but another hugely expensive vanity project for Johnson.

His overspending on fripperies like this, described by some as “spaffing cash up the wall”, has brought a new meaning to the phrase “quantitative easing” (which is what the Bank of England has been having to do in order to allow the nation to cover the cost).

Johnson was shamed into admitting the existence of the studio in February, after it was reported on the social media that, after the huge expense, the space was going unused.

Last month he announced that he would be using the studio after all – and we all warned that he doesn’t have the personality to pull it off.

And then we discovered that the studio had been fitted out by a tech firm based in Russia. Who knows what surveillance equipment was installed there?

(I suppose we’ll find out soon enough, if Johnson really intends to have private briefings there instead of public, press affairs; any really embarrassing secrets will soon get out if the place is full of bugs.)

The whole sorry saga has been a national embarrassment.

Our man-child of a prime minister wanted to play with a new toy that he thought would make him look good – and has wound up looking like a spoilt brat squatting in his own mess.

Source: Downing Street scraps plans for White House-style press briefings – BBC News

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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Biased – and contradictory – BBC attacks Munchetty AND Edwards over flags

If all nations’ flags are supposed to be equal, it seems the BBC’s bosses think some are more equal than others.

The Corporation has attacked its own newsreaders, Naga Munchetty and Huw Edwards, for ridiculing the current policy of Boris Johnson’s Tory ministers to hang a Union Flag behind them whenever they’re interviewed.

Tell you what, Tory Tim*, is this better for you?

The Munchetty controversy arose after a BBC Breakfast News interview with corrupt (see past articles) Tory Housing Minister Robert Jenrick, who – of course – had made sure a Union Flag was visible behind him. Co-presenter Charlie Stayt passed a comment about it which she enjoyed, conspicuously:

The incident prompted some anti-Conservative social media users to post messages on Twitter that Ms Munchetty graced with a ‘like’ – and it was this that dropped her into trouble with her bosses.

She later wrote on Twitter: “I ‘liked’ tweets today that were offensive in nature about the use of the British flag as a backdrop in a government interview this morning. I have since removed these ‘likes’.

“This [sic] do not represent the views of me or the BBC. I apologise for any offence taken.”

So it seems the BBC wants people who fly their flag to be treated with respect.

Right?

Why, then, did it treat Huw Edwards the way it did when he tweeted a tongue-in-cheek response to the row?

BBC bosses ordered Edwards to take down a tweet that said – well, see for yourself:

Several hours later, Mr Edwards tweeted this:

Do you think he was being altogether serious in that last comment?

The Corporation’s contradictory attitude has sown more than a little confusion:

Particularly confused, it seems, was Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who appears to have indulged in overkill, just to be sure:

*Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC, is a former Conservative politician at local level.

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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BBC documentary asks: Who cashed in on Covid?

Don’t expect too much from this: it’s a Panorama documentary from the BBC and, judging by Is Labour Antisemitic that was produced under the same banner, is likely to be biased towards the Tories and full of falsehoods.

However, even the fact that an attempt is being made to bring this to public attention means it has to be worth watching. Right?

According to the BBC’s publicity,

As the government faces mounting criticism that well-connected people made millions out of Britain’s PPE crisis, Panorama investigates who won out.

More than £12 billion was spent in the first six months of the pandemic on contracts to provide personal protective equipment.

Reporter Richard Bilton meets one man who made £40 million on a deal and speaks to others who felt ignored in favour of less-experienced suppliers.

As the government refuses to reveal the full details of all its so-called VIP deals, the programme reveals the high-profile connections to one lucrative contract.

Wow – £40 million on a single deal.

I suspect the conclusion will be one we know already: success depends not on what you know, but who; the Old School Tie opens doors that would otherwise be closed.

Panorama: Cashing in on Covid is broadcast on BBC1 tonight (March 15) at 7.35pm GMT. It will be on BBC iPlayer soon afterwards.

Source: BBC One – Panorama, Cashing in on Covid

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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‘Left-wing’ Mash Report axed by BBC to make way for ‘new comedy’. It won’t be funny!

“Blatantly Backing Conservatives”: I know this image refers specifically to BBC News. It seems with the arrival of ‘Tory Tim’ Davie, the Corporation’s right-wing bias is spreading to its comedy output. Look out, drama and documentaries!

The BBC has axed Nish Kumar satire show The Mash Report on the grounds that it was biased toward the political left.

Director General ‘Tory Tim’ Davie at first said he would not make big changes to the corporation’s comedy output, saying that comedy had always “poked at authority”.

He seems to have changed his mind.

Of course, ‘Tory Tim’ is at a bit of a disadvantage when referring to political bias, since it is widely understood that he owes his position to Tory intervention:

Mash had been a target for right-wing commentators since 2018, when Andrew Neil singled it out while complaining that the corporation’s comedy output was too left-wing.

Neil is, of course, chair of that ultra-right wing publication The Spectator, so he’s a fine one to complain about bias!

Asked for a comment on Twitter, Nish Kumar responded with this:

Was this something he wasn’t allowed to do on the televised show, and he was taking the opportunity now?

Meanwhile, let’s have a look at the kind of bias supported by a show with similar ratings to The Mash Report. I refer to Question Time. This is an actual question from the March 11 edition:

Do I need to spell out the wrongness of the question and the thinking behind it?

This Writer certainly wishes Kumar, and co-presenter Rachel Parris, a brighter future beyond the Beeb.

As for the corporation’s new comedy output: I look forward to seeing the new wave of diversity heralded by ‘Tory Tim’.

Looking at comedy history, I think we’re about to be deluged with right-wing material that simply isn’t funny.

Source: The Mash Report axed by BBC bosses after claims of ‘left-wing bias’ | Metro News

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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David Attenborough is preaching to the wrong people

Misguided: David Attenborough’s A Perfect Planet preached the depressing truth that human beings are destroying their own ecosystem – to human beings who either aren’t or don’t have a choice – they must participate in it or starve. Nobody who can make a difference could care less.

Here’s everything that was wrong with David Attenborough’s A Perfect Planet yesterday:

Sarah Vine, if you didn’t know, is not only a right-wing journalist but the wife of Michael Gove, who happens to be the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – a very senior Conservative government politician.

She doesn’t care about the harm her husband and his government’s policies are doing to the planet. She just wants to see pretty photography of elephants before they become extinct due to her husband’s bad decisions.

And, by virtue of being married to him, she has influence over such matters. She would never use it to stop other Tories (and exploiters from other countries and political parties) from ravaging the world for the sake of a quick buck.

Meanwhile, David Attenborough has been on the BBC telling you and me – I can’t do a single damn thing to stop the destruction of our ecosystem in the name of profit; can you? – that we’re responsible.

Doesn’t he recognise the contradiction in his own stance? He’s saying this on a TV channel that is run by supporters of the Conservative government (current BBC chair Richard Sharp has donated heavily to the Conservatives – more than £400,000 by 2010) and broadcasts Tory propaganda instead of news.

Indeed, just to rub it in our faces, the BBC ran an advert for its news programme right after A Perfect Planet, telling us that while we might have had a rotten time for the last few months – and be in for worse in the future, and it’s all very depressing (they’re sure), we are “not alone” and they are on our side.

Mrs Mike and I stared at this in amazement and disbelief and then both uttered the same explosive eight-letter expletive at the television (I’ll leave you to imagine what it was, for your own entertainment).

If Attenborough really wants to change the direction of travel, he would be demanding change from his BBC bosses but he isn’t.

Instead, all he has done is upset millions of ordinary people who have absolutely no say in such matters and cannot do anything about it.

Some of us may even be employed in jobs that worsen the situation, coerced into doing so by the fact that there is no other work available and they must either take part in the long-term murder of the ecosystem or starve in the short term. Attenborough didn’t mention that on his programme last night but it is a policy of the Conservative government that his employer supports.

I’m not saying he doesn’t make a good point, or shouldn’t be warning everybody about what is happening.

I’m just pointing out that his argument is misdirected. The people who could make a difference simply don’t care. They think he should shut up and show them nice piccies of elephants.

Attenborough stated in the film that his hopes now lie in the new generation of human beings – avoiding the fact that the vast majority will be even less able to change anything than his, or mine, due to political policies across the globe that are concentrating power in the hands of very few people.

I remember back in the 1980s, in the Genesis song Land of Confusion, Tory Phil Collins singing that his generation would “put it right”. His generation didn’t.

My generation hasn’t (to my infinite chagrin).

The next generation won’t have the opportunity.

Attenborough, bless ‘im, needs to get to grips with that reality.

Otherwise, he might just as well give up and give Sarah Vine her elephant pics.

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We die of Covid-19 because we’re old and fat, says Coffey. Why hasn’t SHE caught it, then?

Therese Coffey: “fat” and “old”.

No doubt This Writer will catch some more flak for this. I had criticism for “body shaming” Therese Coffey in the past. But these are her own words (or as near to them as makes no odds)!

The Work and Pensions Secretary was doing the morning media round today (Monday, January 25) and happened to mention on Good Morning Britain her belief that people who die of Covid-19 tend to be elderly and obese.

This theory is certain borne out by the example she provided later, when she reminded us all that Boris Johnson had spent time in intensive care last spring. He is certainly fat and old.

But when presenter Piers Morgan challenged her, asking her to clarify that she was saying the UK has the highest Covid-19-related death rate because its population is fat and old, she described her own words as offensive, made an excuse and flounced off (which is easy to do when you’re at home and can cut your connection).

See for yourself:

The exchange has provoked a certain amount of festivity among the general public:

But we must remember that Ms Coffey is a woman of… particular talents. Intelligence is not one of them.

Consider this one-liner from the same GMB interview. Peter Stefanovic’s sarcasm is right on the button:

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BBC geography fail puts Bristol and Birmingham in Wales. And if you think THAT’s bad…

What were they thinking: how embarrassing for Mishal Husein.

This is the funniest howler I’ve seen today.

A BBC news bulletin providing details of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in England suffered what I can only describe as a massive geographical cock-up.

I don’t really need to describe the nature of the error because it’s right there on the image at the top of this article.

Further illumination is provided by the following tweets:

(These two actually go together very well.)

Of course, in recent years the BBC has become desperate to entertain all points of view – in politics, at least.

So the corporation has insisted on broadcasting statements that were not true, saying the intention was to provide a “balanced” story.

This leads me to ask:

Does the map in the image represent someone’s genuine belief about the locations of these places – and BBC News broadcast it in the name of balance?

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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