Tag Archives: appeal

Government appeals court ruling that contract with Gove cronies Public First was unlawful

Backhander: if you know the circumstances of the court case against the government over its contract with Public First, then you will know why I’m using this picture. If not, follow the link in the story to read the details.

After spending half a million pounds defending a decision to give a contract worth only slightly more to friends of Tory minister Michael Gove – and losing – the government intends to spend even more on an appeal.

In June, the High Court ruled that a Tory government decision to award a £560,000 contract to Public First gave rise to “apparent bias” and was unlawful.

Mrs Justice O’Farrell said: “The claimant is entitled to a declaration that the decision of 5 June 2020 to award the contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.”

You can read the details of the case here.

Now the Good Law Project – which brought the case to court – has revealed that the government is appealing against the ruling, although the exact grounds for the appeal do not seem clear.

“We think his decision to spend more public money on an appeal is likely to be driven by a desire to postpone a further embarrassing loss in a separate challenge we are bringing,” a statement by the Good Law Project claims.

“We are challenging another lucrative contract awarded to allies of Michael Gove, this time to a company called Hanbury. It was due to be heard later this month but will now be delayed.

“However, the appeal gives us a chance to revivify the arguments … that there was time for a proper competitive tender process and/or no need to give such a long and valuable contract without any tender process.

“All of that having been said, we have to recognise Government spent an extraordinary £500,000+ on a one day hearing below – approximately twice what we managed to raise to fight and win the case. With that in mind, we have decided to reopen our crowdfunding page.”

If you are in a position to donate, you can do so here.

Source: Government is appealing – Good Law Project

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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Money-grubbing millionaire: Riley grabs cash from Mike after LOSING libel appeal

Money: after losing part of her libel case against Mike, Rachel Riley was desperate to get some from him, any way she could. The way she found was particularly loathesome.

The Court of Appeal has ordered me to pay £3,628 to Rachel Riley after she lost the appeal in her libel case – because it reckons she ran up more costs in presenting her failed case than I did in winning mine.

In fairness, it could be said that she won two-thirds of her application to strike out all my defences (because two of them remain struck out). But the starting-point for the appeal is that I won it outright, because the third of those defences was the only thing that took up all of the court’s time.

I had done what I considered the chivalrous thing: suggested that we should simply write off all our costs and move on. It seemed to me that, having won the appeal and a third of the strike-out hearing, I would be more likely to benefit from a costs order than her.

But it seems Riley wasn’t happy with that. The millionaire was determined to wrench some money from the poverty-line blogger, any way she could manage.

The strategy seems clear: she still wants to run down my funds to make it impossible for me to take my own case to a trial – despite two years in which you have shown that you won’t allow her to achieve that.

Of course, I could choose not to pay. But then, it seems likely that she would call in the bailiffs while seeking an order from the court that my defence should be struck out unless I pay. I would have to spend more money than the costs order itself if I wanted to resist those moves.

It isn’t worth it, so I have instructed my solicitor to let her have the cash, if she’s that desperate for it. It’s still less than half the £7,500 she wanted earlier in the week.

The timing is unfortunate – I put it no stronger than that – because I am facing an expensive month.

My amended defence must go before the High Court on June 23, and this will take up an unavoidable amount of my legal team’s time. I don’t know how much this will cost.

So I have to return to my regular appeal. If you can spare 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.

It would have been nice to be able to tell you that I had received money from Riley, but the size of the costs bill she submitted for the High Court hearing (inflated because it came from a price list that, in my opinion, was not relevant) made that impossible.

Once again, those of us who are poor have to try to accommodate the selfishness of those who are very rich.

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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After Mike won his libel appeal, Rachel Riley wants him to pay HER court costs

Filthy lucre: Rachel Riley thinks I should pay her court costs, despite the fact that I won my appeal and she lost. It will cost a lot more than the loose change in this image and I don’t intend to part with a penny.

That’s not a typo in the headline.

You may recall that, when I reported that I had won my appeal against the striking-out of my ‘public interest’ defence against Rachel Riley’s libel claim, I said the awarding of costs had yet to be determined, but I would be happy to see my win at appeal and Riley’s two-thirds win on the application (she did manage to strike out two of my defences) cancel each other out.

Riley has other ideas, it seems.

I have learned that she has rejected that proposal. She says that, because she did not argue against the public interest defence in the High Court, she should not forfeit any costs for losing on that issue at appeal.

But the High Court’s costs order reflected the fact that it struck out all three aspects of my defence.

Now, having restored the public interest defence I could, technically, argue that I actually won in the High Court; Riley tried to destroy my entire defence but my defence survived.

As for the appeal, Riley is trying to say that I only succeeded in relation to one-third of it because two aspects of my defence did not receive permission. This is a false argument.

The starting-point under the rules is that I succeeded and so I am entitled to my costs. Also, the vast majority of my lawyers’ time and all of the court’s time was spent on the successful aspect.

It gets worse: Riley then says that my Counsel was too expensive, having regard to the amount of work involved, which is bizarre. My Counsel charged less than hers, who is more junior and had much less work.

The practical upshot of this is that Riley wants me to pay, to her, £7,500 of your money.

She won’t get a single coin if I can help it.

Because Riley has taken this unreasonable position I will now argue not only that the result of the appeal means she should pay costs money to me, but I may also ask the court to impose an indemnity order – penalty costs.

I am entitled to take this step but had not intended to do so. If the court awards me the extra cash, then she should know she has brought it on herself.

But it’s your money I’m using to make these arguments, and I would appreciate your approval for this course of action.

If you agree that I should go ahead as I have described, then please signal your support in the usual manner:

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.

It really is a squalid way for Riley to behave, after losing the appeal.

We know she doesn’t need the money, so I think there’s only one obvious conclusion.

She is still trying to drag out the case as long as possible, to drain my funds and prevent me from giving evidence in a trial that she fears she won’t win. Let’s make sure she can’t.

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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Will Rachel Riley use her drubbing in the Appeal Court to play the victim (AGAIN)?

The arena: Riley v Sivier is now to head back to the Royal Courts of Justice in London for a trial. It seems Riley, who initiated the case, is now trying to get people to see her as a victim of it.

What a reaction to This Writer’s Court of Appeal victory over Rachel Riley!

After a tribunal of judges reinstated my “public interest” defence, it meant the case could go to trial – and the public got behind that idea in a big way.

From Friday afternoon onwards, my Twitter feed has been full of messages of support – thousands of them – offering me support and voicing the authors’ opinions about Ms Riley and her lawsuit. Here are a few examples:

As you can see, a significant proportion of the responses are, at the very least, highly critical of Rachel Riley.

Back when the appeal hearing took place, she also received a high volume of criticism and, only the day after, her husband Pasha Kovalev was in the Mirror saying that it could harm the health of their second child:

Countdown star Rachel, 35, has suffered vile anti-Semitic abuse and told the Mirror this week how trolls have “become part of my daily life”.

Yesterday her name was a trending topic on Twitter, swamped with negative messages.

She has previously told how she became “very stressed and upset” over such abuse while pregnant with first child Maven, now 16 months, adding: “My baby stopped wriggling for a couple of days.”

At the time she blocked trolls, deciding engaging online was “not worth the hormones”.

But now, as the couple expect their second baby in autumn, Pasha is calling out the “acidity” of social media platforms as he fears the same happening again.

There certainly are trolls out there. I have suffered the attentions of some of them, among the mountain of praise I’ve had over the last couple of days. I’m sure Riley has received a number of messages that go beyond reasonable criticism and I certainly do not condone such behaviour. I never have.

But for the sake of clarity, and with no prejudice against Mr Kovalev (whose work on Strictly Come Dancing was much enjoyed by me, and who I understand also does a lot for charity): if Rachel Riley is experiencing the health issues described by the Mirror, as a result of tweets expressing critical opinions in the light of my case, my view is that that has been her choice.

As far as I’m aware, nobody forced her to behave in objectionable ways on Twitter, to such a degree that people have responded harshly in return.

Nobody forced her to sue me.

And nobody is forcing her to persist with her case against me.

As it seems clear that she is pushing ahead with it, then she has made a decision that will attract criticism, and she is perfectly aware of that.

So, in my opinion, if her child’s health is in any way endangered because of her emotional reaction to critical tweets about her court case against me, then that is her responsibility and nobody else’s.

Now, it seems, we are being asked to sympathise with her over the costs she has incurred. I read in some of our favourite right-wing papers this weekend that Riley’s legal bill could exceed £1 million:

Leading defamation lawyer Mark Stephens said Ms Riley is likely to have spent up to £70,000 in her fight so far.

Mr Stephens… added that the star could ultimately spend more than £1million on the case and said a full-scale libel trial ‘as an absolute floor is £500,000’.

He added: ‘If she wins she will get some costs back but she has lost this round so she will have to pay Mike Sivier’s costs and his barrister for the appeal which will be [£15,000] – £20,000.’

I think he’s more or less right about the “absolute floor” cost of the trial. My own costs are creeping up to the £200,000 mark and I know that her lawyers are charging much more than mine (although they appear to be supported by insurance, while I must rely on crowdfunding).

If her legal team is more expensive, then it seems unlikely that she has spent only £70,000 so far. Her legals tried to bill me £27,000 for the strike-out application alone (we objected to this, and my win on Friday is likely to have changed the argument on costs considerably).

But it seems odd to seek public sympathy over the amount she is having to spend. She is a millionaire, by all accounts. I am a carer, writing Vox Political in order to make enough money to scrape a living. Without the support I have received from thousands of people via the CrowdJustice fund, I would not have been able to fight her lawsuit.

And I do still believe that her intention all along was never to go as far as a trial. I think she expected to be able to bankrupt me, solely with the threat of an enormously expensive trial.

So articles like that in the Mail, that seem to be asking for public sympathy over the costs a millionaire is facing in suing a relatively penniless carer… well, they lack credibility, I think.

am still relatively penniless, by the way. I’m not likely to receive any costs payout for winning the appeal because Riley still won much of the strike-out application, and my income declined sharply during the Covid-19 crisis and is only beginning to pick up again now.

You are therefore – as ever – invited to continue donating to my appeal, if and when 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 don’t have armies of reporters in the right-wing media, lining up to provide supportive puff pieces for me.

But the reaction I’ve had this weekend shows I do have the support of thousands upon thousands of people.

As the poem states: we are many; they are few.

And while they may be able to shout louder, and get more attention, they don’t have good arguments. We do.

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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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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Court of Appeal to hand down judgment in Riley v Sivier: 2pm, May 14

The Court of Appeal will hand down its judgment on my appeal against the striking out of my “public interest” defence against Rachel Riley’s libel accusation at 2pm on May 14.

At the time of writing, that’s tomorrow. By the time you read this, it may be today.

This is extremely short notice. At the time of writing (again), I do not know whether the Court of Appeal wishes my legal team to attend the hearing. I won’t be able to, in any event.

Usually, a hearing like this is simply a mention whereby the Court of Appeal says that it has handed down its judgment.

But it is sometimes necessary to give further directions – for example, the court might find in my favour on the basis that the High Court did not address the strike out application correctly and send it back to the High Court to re-hear the application.

I hope that is reasonably unlikely – either the court will decide that my public interest defence is too weak and no amount of re-hearing will make any difference, or that it is so fact-specific that we need to get on with the trial.

I will be hoping for the latter.

Alternatively, if I win, there might then be a debate about how the High Court’s costs order should reflect the fact that both I and Riley won certain aspects.

The timing of this is interesting. It is happening right after the hearing of Riley’s case against Laura Murray came to an end?

I wonder what Riley will do if she loses both this appeal and that other case.

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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Confused by the Riley libel appeal? Here’s what it all meant


I was just looking at viewing figures for the Court of Appeal on YouTube.

The case before mine came in at 156; the one after, 67.

Riley v Sivier: 3,400.

How nice to be popular!

But I wonder how many of those were repeat views by people trying to understand what was going on. The suited and bewigged inhabitants of Court 70 seemed to be arguing about things to which the casual viewer wasn’t privy.

This article is an attempt to address that.

So for a start, let’s look at my grounds for appeal.

One of my defences was that I had published my article about Rachel Riley and the teenage girl with anxiety issues who suffered sustained abuse on the social media for daring to criticise the TV parlour game-player because it was a matter of public interest.

According to the Defamation Act 2013, it is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that— (a) the statement complained of was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest; and (b) the defendant reasonably believed that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest.

In determining whether the defendant has shown this, the court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case, and must make such allowance for editorial judgement as it considers appropriate.

For the avoidance of doubt, this defence may be relied upon, irrespective of whether the statement complained of is a statement of fact or a statement of opinion.

So the task for our justice system was to determine three issues:

i) was the statement complained of, or did it form part of, a statement on a matter of public interest?

If so,

ii) did the defendant (that’s me) believe that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest?

If so,

iii) was that belief reasonable?

The first and third issues are objective – it either was or wasn’t, depending on whether it meets the relevant criteria. The second issue is subjective – it’s about what I believed at the time I published the article.

In respect of the second and third issues, the truth or falsity of the allegation complained of by Rachel Riley is irrelevant. The defence can apply to an untrue statement (or in this case, a statement for which insufficient evidence was provided to the strike-out hearing to establish that it was true).

My public interest defence was separate from, and in addition to my other defences, which were that my statements were true and that they were statements of honest opinion.

The judge at the strike-out hearing, Mrs Justice Collins Rice, struck out my truth defence on the grounds that I was unable to provide a tweet by Rachel Riley declaring that she was a bully and that she published the tweets mentioned in my article in order to cause a teenage girl with mental health issues to suffer an enormous amount of abuse.

She then struck out my honest opinion defence on the grounds that I could not have an honest opinion about statements that were not true.

Her finishing touch was to strike out my public interest defence on the basis of a false submission by Rachel Riley that it must fail as a consequence of the truth defence being struck out.

Here’s what Riley said, in paragraph 71 of her strike-out application:

“71. Similarly the defence brought under s.4 DEA 2013 cannot have been reasonably believed if the facts relied on in the truth defence are incapable of supporting a plea of truth.”

This was a clear error of law.

Riley’s counsel accepted in oral submissions (that’s during the strike-out hearing itself) that this statement was wrong.

Riley’s case concerning my public interest defence was otherwise undeveloped and did not occupy the court’s time.

Nevertheless the judge, in her judgment, seemed to have swallowed Riley’s submissions whole and did not address any of the requirements of the defence.

She did not address the contents of my actual pleading (what I said).

In fact, she showed no evidence that she had given my public interest defence any due consideration at all.

Not only that, but the conditions in which my truth defence was judged – which had been laid down by a different judge, Mr Justice Nicklin – had nothing to do with the public interest defence.

Mrs Justice Collins Rice appeared – although we cannot be sure because her judgment was so vague that she did not even provide the reasons on which it was made – to have proceeded on the assumption that “the statement complained of” in a public interest defence against the allegations against me was the same as the single meaning of the words complained of, as found by Mr Justice Nicklin. Not true; “the statement complained of” refers to the actual words that I published. There’s a difference!

And, by the way, I pointed out that there was a difference, through my own representative, at the strike-out hearing. She couldn’t even say she hadn’t been told.

If she had considered my defence as pleaded – as she was bound by law to do – it would have been readily apparent that she had no power to strike it out, because it is unsuitable for such an action. “The court must have regard to all the circumstances of the case” – so it is impossible to determine whether it was reasonable for me to believe that publishing my article was in the public interest without hearing any actual evidence from me.

I’ll come back to this, because there’s an assumption here that my article is dishonest – and I take the greatest offence to anyone – High Court judge or whoever – bandying about such a claim without even showing any evidence for it.

Furthermore, the public interest defence is a developing area of the law. Mr Justice Nicklin (remember him?) said, “In an area of law which is developing, and where its boundaries are drawn incrementally on the basis of decided cases, it is not normally appropriate summarily to dispose of the claim or defence.

“In such areas, development of the law should proceed on the basis of actual facts found at trial and not on the basis of hypothetical facts assumed to be true on an application to strike out.”

Are we clear, so far? The strike-out application did not provide any admissible grounds for my public interest defence to be struck out, and the judge made an error in law by doing it.

So, in her response to my appeal, Riley put forward a completely new case that was longer than the whole of her previous application to strike out all of my defences. Not allowed!

So in my appeal, I submitted that Riley should not be permitted to advance her new case, on the following grounds:

Whilst a respondent may provide “reasons different from or additional to those given by the lower court” it does not extend to mounting an entirely new case, unheralded in that lower court. It is confined to “reasons” which were open to the lower court, but which it did not rely on. In order for these reasons to have been open to the lower court, they had to have formed part of the respondent’s case. And these hadn’t.

It was incumbent on Riley to bring forward the entirety of her case in her original application. As a matter of procedural fairness it is objectionable for her to withhold the entirety of her application until my appeal.

This was addressed in the appeal hearing when my Counsel pointed out that the proper place for Riley to bring forward her new arguments was the High Court, and in not doing so, she had deprived me of the opportunity to consider and respond to them there – putting me (and contributors to my CrowdJustice fund) to the extra expense of an appeal court hearing that could otherwise have been prevented.

My public interest defence cannot be determined in the absence of my evidence as to my belief that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest. Concerning as it does my subjective belief, this is an in inherently fact-sensitive inquiry. In the absence of a clear case that the defence is bound to fail – which this is not – it is not amenable to summary determination (in other words, strike-out by a judge on the basis of barristers’ arguments rather than on the basis of evidence).

Possibly the most important point is that my appeal had to be on a “pure point of law”. By the same token, Riley should not be permitted to raise a new case in the Court of Appeal because it is not a “pure point of law”.

So, having failed to put forward a permissible argument in the High Court, Riley had no right to make an entirely new and separate case against me in the Court of Appeal.

That said, I still had to show that her new arguments were wrong, so let’s look at them.

She claimed that the statements I made were not on a matter of public interest because:

It discloses no grounds capable of giving rise to a reasonable belief by me that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest. Further or alternatively:

The particulars of the defence are deficient such that the pleaded defence stands to be struck out as being likely to obstruct the fair disposal of proceedings.

I responded without prejudice as follows, to Riley’s new case:

My defence (the original document, written in early 2020) pleads four matters of public interest addressed in the Article:

  • Online bullying and harassment including death threats; I highlighted the online bullying and harassment including death threats to which C has been exposed, as well as Rose.
  • The power of an adult celebrity compared to the relative powerlessness of a vulnerable child suffering anxiety.
  • Mental health; this point is connected with that of Riley’s power in comparison with that of her teenage victim, emphasising that the girl is a vulnerable person, quite apart from the fact that she was a child at the time of the events to which my article referred.
  • Anti-Semitism.

Riley’s contention is that none of the last three matters “is the focus or purpose of the article. None of these topics is examined in the article or forms any material part of it”. This is demonstrably wrong . Amazingly, she even made a general assertion to the effect that they aren’t even matters of public interest – although she did not provide overt arguments.

In respect of “Online bullying and harassment including death threats”, Riley does say that this is not a matter of public interest. This is a curious position for at least three reasons:

i) The article explains that Riley herself is the victim of such bullying, harassment and threats, as reported in a national newspaper. The first portion of the article is specifically concerned with The Guardian’s reportage and includes Riley’s own words.

ii) The article then sets up a counter-narrative by addressing the online bullying and harassment including death threats, suffered by the teenager. This remains a matter of public interest not least as it again concerns Riley, albeit as perpetrator, not victim.

iii) In terms of wider context, it is indisputable that online bullying and harassment is not just a matter of public interest, but pressing public interest – consider the recent Online Harms White Paper and Law Commission consultation on reform of communications offences (as I did, in my written submissions).

On the claim that I could not reasonably believe that my article was on matters of public interest, I had the following to say:

Riley was proceeding from a false premise – a limited selection of the tweets that formed the basis of my article. The full facts were not considered by the High Court. The judge excluded relevant tweets showing that the teenage victim was trying to retreat from the debate (and from the abuse she was receiving) – but Riley kept dragging her back to it, culminating in a thread on December 18 in which she said:

“I’m not finding Rachel Riley to be a nice person at all. I said I wanted to move on from this debate and end it, then she tweets me about retracting my comments after I said I stand by my opinion but will always listen to others.

“She said that she isn’t singling me out but all she has done has encouraged an onslaught onto me. I tried to be respectful and mature to her by saying I understood her stance but she’s just thrown it in my face.

“I may be sixteen but that doesn’t automatically make me an idiot. I will not sit here and let her dictate what I say and how I feel. I do not feel threatened by you, Rachel and I would have hoped you could have listened to everyone else’s opinions instead of just your own.”

According to Mrs Justice Collins Rice, the dialogue between Riley and this girl was entirely civilised and respectful until the teenage changed her attitude in January (nearly a month after this thread was published). The judge expressed the belief that other people had persuaded the girl to change her stance but this is clearly untrue.

No consideration is given to tweets by anybody other than Riley and her teenage victim.

In addition, the Twitter accounts of various third party followers of Riley’s, including their tweets, had since been deleted.

Riley does not challenge my belief in the public interest in publishing my article, whether in terms providing a counter-narrative to the Channel 4 News broadcast, The Times article, The Guardian article and her own widely-published tweets, or in highlighting perceived hypocrisy in her own treatment of the teenager or her record on anti-Semitism. These are not addressed.

These omissions are significant, as I will explain in his evidence at trial – should I ever get to provide it! I will demonstrate that:

a) The version of events presented in the mainstream media appeared incomplete. Riley was reported as being targeted by Labour supporters but the reportage did not detail how Riley had engaged with and attacked those same Labour supporters with whom she disagreed.

b) Primary sources in the form of the tweets of Riley, Tracy-Ann Oberman and the teenager were available and I checked them. Riley and Oberman are blue-tick Twitter celebrities whose tweets could be attributed to them (the blue tick on Twitter means the account is only used by the celebrity claiming ownership of it). I considered Rose’s tweets and the bullying narrative they conveyed (including those in which she specifically implicated Riley). I saw the abusive messages to which the girl had been subjected by Riley’s followers and noted the intensity and unpleasantness of the campaign waged against her and her father by Oberman, who had tagged Riley into her tweets. Oberman’s campaign coincided with Riley’s own tweets about Rose.

c) In my judgement this was a matter of public interest. It was not a minor Twitter spat. A child, who faced mental health challenges, reported being subject to online abuse culminating in death threats which had extended to attacks upon her parents. This was as a result of the conduct of adult celebrities whose power was wholly disproportionate to that of the child. The protections afforded to those adult celebrities were also disproportionate, Riley receiving extra security in her role as a television presenter whereas no protections were available to the child. There was a wider context to the hypocrisy alleged against Riley, given her record concerning anti-Semitism.

d) Riley’s story was prominent in national broadcast and print media and had been publicised on Twitter to her 600,000-plus followers. By contrast, the girl’s story had a much narrower audience. I sought to draw the public’s attention to both stories in parallel, highlighting a counter-narrative which in his judgement was of public interest.

e) I published urgently – at my earliest opportunity – in order to challenge the narrative in the mainstream media most recently conveyed in newspaper articles that morning. I am an experienced journalist. The decisions I made with regard to the article were in the exercise of my editorial judgement.

This is only a summary of the evidence I will give. But it serves to illustrate that my reasonable belief is unsuitable for summary determination by any judge in the absence of actually hearing my evidence.

Nevertheless, Riley squarely challenged the honesty of my belief that publishing the statement was in the public interest. To say, as my Counsel did, that “This is objectionable” is a devastating understatement. I take deep offence to unevidenced claims that I am a liar and of course no judge should ever support unevidenced claims made in a courtroom. Case law must be about facts, not fanciful tittle-tattle from the top of a TV game show girl’s head.

Put another way: “dishonesty must be specifically alleged and sufficiently particularised” and “The purpose of giving particulars is to allow the defendant to know the case he has to meet” – Sofer v Swissindependent Trustees SA [2020] EWCA Civ 699 per Arnold LJ at paras 23(1) and 24(1). That’s your actual case law.

According to the Defamation Act, when considering a public interest defence, “the court must make such allowance for editorial judgement as it considers appropriate”. Riley did not address my editorial judgement as described in my defence. Instead, she simply asserted that “the article as a whole was not on a matter of public interest”. This assertion is untenable.

That is the gist of what I said in my written submissions to the court, and what Riley’s Counsel (and the judges, at times) tried to argue against.

When the judges announced they were retiring, after the evidence had been heard on Tuesday (April 27), I thought they were going to come out with a verdict straight away – that they had already made up their minds.

It was a huge surprise when they said they were reserving judgment and would submit it in written form in the future. On the day I tweeted that this may be because – as the public interest defence is a new area of law – they need to consider the possible repercussions of any decision in either direction.

As time stretches on, I don’t mind admitting that there have been discussions about whether the judges are trying to find an excuse for a verdict against me.

If that happens – well, you’ve seen the arguments. You can see that they are all on my side.

And it’s only a short hop to the Supreme Court.

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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Another ‘reserved judgment’ after Riley libel appeal hearing

I suppose we should not have been surprised.

After a hearing of slightly longer than two hours, judges at the Court of Appeal have reserved judgment on my bid to reinstate my defence against Rachel Riley’s libel claim.

This is the defence that I published my article on a matter of public interest.

It has been suggested to me that this is because they need to consider the effect, if any, that their decision will have on the effectiveness of that defence in the future. Will they make it pointless to use it, just in order to shut down a single defendant’s case?

Alternatively, will their decision make it a “get out of trouble free” card for defendants?

I’ll keep you informed of future developments but I can tell you that I already know what I’m going to do if this appeal is dismissed.

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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Riley appeal hearing: at last, the details!

The Royal Courts of Justice in London: you don’t have to go there to watch my appeal – it’s happening on YouTube.

The April 27 appeal hearing has been listed at “not before 10.30”, so it would be sensible to have the YouTube link open by 10.30am.

This is the link:

The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) – Live streaming of court hearings

We also know the identity of the judges! They are:

1. Dame Victoria Sharp: the President of the Queen’s Bench Division. I understand that Sharp is quite experienced in these sorts of cases. Hopefully, she will be slow to allow a public interest defence to be struck out when that defence expressly depends on a reasonable belief which has yet to be articulated in my own words, let alone tested at court.

2. Lord Justice Launcelot Henderson. Henderson is an incredibly intelligent and academic commercial judge. Hopefully, this works in my favour because the technical analysis of a public interest defence should require the court to hear and test my evidence.

3. Lord Justice Mark Warby. He is a highly specialised defamation lawyer.

In theory, I have good reason to feel optimistic. However: it is impossible to guess the outcome based on the identity of the judges.

The appeal will stand or fall on the basis of the legal arguments.

I am heartened that my solicitor thinks we have put forward a compelling argument – and that the High Court’s judgment is a dangerous precedent for other public interest defences.

How will it all resolve itself?

Tune in and find out.

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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Riley libel appeal is to be livestreamed – so the world can watch it


There have been developments.

The Court of Appeal has decided to proceed with an “in person” hearing of my appeal against Rachel Riley’s bid to strike out my defence – but on the basis that the proceedings will also be live streamed rather than conducted as a hybrid hearing, as I requested.

This is less than ideal for me because it means there will be a delay before I see what is happening. I won’t be attending in person but will be watching the live stream.

But it is excellent news for you because anyone will be able to watch the livestream of the hearing, and the recording will remain available on YouTube – in perpetuity, as I understand it, afterwards.

This means the integrity of all participants is on the line because – whatever the outcome, the analysis of Rachel Riley’s engagement with a vulnerable teenager who suffered very strong anxiety will be available for all the world to watch.

My team will be doing everything possible to expose the failings of the case put forward by Riley’s team.

I will publicise the link to the hearing when it becomes available. I am obliged to remind you that it is illegal to make any recordings of proceedings at the hearing – although, considering it will be available on YouTube anyway, why would you want to?

I’m also obliged to remind you of the various ways you can donate to the CrowdJustice fund:

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 still can’t tell you the time of the hearing next Tuesday (April 27).

Be assured that I will pass it on as soon as I know.

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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