Someone brought my attention to the report of Rachel Riley’s application to strike out my defence against her libel action yesterday and I had a good laugh at it.
Considering the fact that my Twitter account appears to have been suspended – presumably over my own fair and accurate account of the hearing – other friends have questioned why this is still up.
It’s a good question.
It was headlined Latest round of Rachel Riley libel challenge heard in court – so far, so good. But the author – “Jewish News Reporter” – went off-beam from the sub-heading onwards:
Lawyers argued about claims of online abuse, harassment and bullying towards the countdown presenter
No, it was claims of online abuse, harassment and bullying by the Countdown presenter. That’s quite a big mistake to start off!
The latest round of a libel challenge by lawyers acting for Countdown presenter Rachel Riley and Vox Political reporter Mark Sivier
Who’s this Mark Sivier, I hear you cry. He’s a cousin of mine who lives in Bristol and has nothing to do with This Site or the case. I do wonder whether he would like to start one of his own against this newspaper, if I bring his attention to it…
reached the courts again on Friday, as lawyers argued about claims of online abuse, harassment and bullying.
The allegations stem from vitriol surrounding antisemitism in the Labour Party, against which Riley has been a vocal critic, and this week’s hearing was centred on a strike-out action.
No, no, no! The allegations stem from Riley’s support for a claim that Owen Jones is anti-Semitic, after he applauded Lord Sugar’s announcement that if Jeremy Corbyn got to be prime minister, he would leave the UK.
The hearing was of a strike-out application. And Riley hasn’t criticised “vitriol surrounding antisemitism in the Labour Party” – which is what Jewish News is saying here; she has caused a large amount of it.
(Consider her call for people to sign a petition saying former party leader Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-Semite (he isn’t); her post that photoshopped a scene from Game of Thrones to include an image of Jeremy Corbyn with a message that someone should “take” him “out” (meaning, have him killed); and the image of her wearing a T-shirt bearing a famous image of Corbyn being arrested for protesting against apartheid South Africa, photoshopped (again) so the board he was wearing stated “Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavour”. All of these caused considerable ill-feeling.)
Sivier, who has raised for than £100,000 for legal fees through crowdfunding, called Riley’s latest legal action “a vexatious attack… to have my defence against her libel action struck out… to avoid having the evidence heard at a trial”.
Did I? It looks like selective quoting but in fact the sentiment is more or less accurate. I do consider the strike-out application to have been an attempt to stop a libel trial from taking place – not by proving that I don’t have a case (I do), but by wasting the money I had crowdfunded (yes, more than £100,000 – people really don’t like Riley) to make it impossible for me to fund my defence.
Of course, that was my feeling before the hearing took place. In fact, counsel for both Riley and myself ran through a lot of information about the case in their submissions, meaning if Riley really didn’t want the information about her bullying a teenage girl – and both supporting and encouraging abuse of her by her followers – she failed in that attempt.
The hearing was in open court, meaning the public were entitled to attend – and did – and the material provided in evidence is now public knowledge.
Mrs Justice Collins Rice heard the arguments at the High Court as barristers jostled over Riley’s allegations that Riley engaged in a campaign of online abuse and harassment against her, allegations denied by Sivier.
This will take a bit of unpicking!
Riley did not allege that she had engaged in a campaign of online abuse and harassment, certainly not against herself!
I had made the claim that she had engaged, supported and encouraged such a campaign – against a teenage girl with mental health issues, as described in my article yesterday (December 11).
I haven’t denied making that claim, though. I deny that it is libellous to do so – for the very good reason that she did do those things.
Her application, heard by Mrs Justice Collins Rice yesterday, was that my defence was not substantial enough to justify a trial. But then, it did manage to support a full day’s hearing at the High Court, so I think she should be on a hiding to nothing there.
It is the latest libel case pursued by Riley and fellow Jewish TV personality Tracy Ann-Oberman, supported by Israel-based lawyer Mark Lewis, whose witness statement was considered in court.
Tracy-Ann Oberman is not a party in the case. It is being pursued only by Riley. Oberman does appear in it – as I allege that she also harassed the teenager, with dozens of tweets in a single day, inviting her to a meal in London with another teen.
Oberman herself has since claimed that 16 tweets in succession constitutes harassment so her own more than 50 (some say more than 60) should certainly qualify, in my opinion.
And no fewer than three witness statement by Mark Lewis were considered by the court. None of them added to Riley’s case as they constituted nothing more than his personal opinions – as my counsel pointed out.
Late last year a High Court judge heard pre-trial submissions over the pending libel case between Riley and Sivier, concerning the latter’s 2019 article in which he called Riley a “serial abuser”, including of a 16-year-old girl who received death threats.
This is the essence of the story. And it is being reported in the second-to-last paragraph of this Jewish News piece. Talk about getting a story backwards!
The judge said Sivier’s argument that Riley’s “irresponsibility” had caused supporters to issue death threats was opinion, as was his description of her as a “hypocrite”.
That would be Mr Justice Nicklin, who presided over the hearing in 2019 – not Mrs Justice Collins Rice. It means Riley will find it extremely difficult to prove that those statements were libellous – even if she succeeds in striking out my argument of “truth” – that my claim about her is factually accurate.
The story does not explain that I referred to “irresponsibility” because she had tweeted false information both to and about the teenager; if she had not done so, her Twitter followers would not have even known about the girl’s existence, let alone filled her inbox with abuse over a period of almost exactly one month.
And I called Riley a hypocrite because my article was a response to a Guardian piece in which she claimed that Channel 4 had been forced to employ a bodyguard for her after she had received threats – without any acknowledgement that her own behaviour on Twitter had led to the teenage girl also receiving threats – and she doesn’t have the funds for a bodyguard.
These points are all pertinent to the case as a whole, and to the hearing yesterday yet, strangely, the Jewish News failed to include them – or got the story points completely wrong.
Can you imagine why that could have happened?
To me, it is indicative of the way the mainstream press has been happy to ignore and distort the facts of the case so they can boost their poster girl and disregard me.
The knock-on intention is to ensure that people turn away from me and I fail.
You know how to prevent that:
Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, 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’m never going to get support from the mass media. Even if I win this case, they’ll try to misrepresent it or bury it altogether. They don’t care about the facts.
But you do – or you wouldn’t be reading this. Let’s make sure the facts are known.
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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