Tag Archives: Rosen

Has Rachel Riley libelled defenders of Michael Rosen? Will they sue?

Michael Rosen.

It seems Rachel Riley is playing her old games again – and this one appears to be in very poor taste.

She has responded to a piece of – journalism? – by someone called David Hirsh, raking over the behaviour of a person who is no longer alive and therefore unable to speak for himself. It is not clear to This Writer whether the deceased’s family were involved.

The piece about Peter Newbon, who was a leading figure in an organisation known as Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS), appears to have made certain claims about the beloved children’s author and poet, Michael Rosen – on which Ms Riley commented as follows:

Note that she did not provide any information explaining the reason her “stomach turns” at the mention of Mr Rosen. This is familiar behaviour; by allowing others to draw their own conclusions, it may be possible to deny those conclusions later.

But is it possible to work out what one may reasonably deduce is the reason Mr Rosen has such an effect on Ms Riley’s digestive system? I have not read the Hirsh article – but I believe I have enough information from the following exchange between him and Mr Rosen:

(I’m not going to refer here to the Jamie Wilson court case, in which Newbon was also involved. If you want more information on that, details are available here.)

So the claim is that the late Mr Newbon was bullied by people including Mr Rosen, and that this led to his suicide.

In that case, we need to examine how Michael Rosen knew Peter Newbon. And we find this:

The image, tweeted by Newbon, shows former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn apparently reading the anti-Semitic book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to children.

In fact, he had been reading Mr Rosen’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and the words with which Newbon accompanied the image paraphrase that work: “Oh no! A J-…er, I mean a ZIONIST! A nasty, horrible Zionist! We can’t go over him, we can’t go under him, we’ll have to make an effigy…” instead of: “We can’t go over it, we can’t under it. Oh no! We have to go through it”.

Hirsh has said Newbon did not create the image; he merely shared it. But every share is a new publication of the image and any message it conveys. Furthermore, the words above the image appear to have been typed in by Newbon. Were they his words, or those of whoever created the meme? Either way, if he typed them into his tweet, we may infer that he agreed with the message that they convey.

Mr Rosen had contacted Newbon’s employer, Northumbria University, to complain about its lecturer sharing the image, which he described as “loathesome and antisemitic” – and he was not alone; the university received around 4,000 complaints in total.

I think we may reasonably infer that this is the “bullying” to which Hirsh referred. How he can describe Mr Rosen’s complaint in that manner, or as “antisemitic”, is a mystery as Mr Rosen, being Jewish, may quite clearly be seen as the victim of anti-Semitism here; the tweeted image links him – a Jew – with an anti-Semitic book which was once said to have been written by Jews and which makes claims calculated to provoke hatred against Jews.

I have no information on Newbon’s own ethnicity. If he was Jewish himself, then for Mr Rosen to have been anti-Semitic towards him, Mr Rosen’s complaint would have to have exhibited hatred towards him because he was a Jew – and we have no evidence of this.

And a complaint about a tweet that may clearly be taken as an attack on Mr Rosen may not be described as bullying in any way. Or so it seems to This Writer. It seems to me, based on the evidence, that he is the victim:

So I can find no clear basis for Ms Riley’s apparent comment that the Hirsh article reminds her of any reason her “stomach turns” at the mention of Mr Rosen.

Her tweet certainly appears to have turned the stomachs of people who enjoy his work or have personal experience of him. A few hours after her initial tweet, Ms Riley followed it up with this:

To This Writer, the comment is very strange – firstly because I can only find two responses to her previous tweet on the subject, that criticise her. Is that really enough for her to pass comment as though there was a large backlash?

Secondly, it does not make grammatical sense – and this leads me to suggest that it may be taken to mean something else: not that she isn’t bothered by people she claims are antisemites being upset at her comment about Mr Rosen, but that if people do criticise her for that comment, she is not bothered because they are all antisemites.

Again, there appears to be no evidence to support a claim that every respondent is an anti-Semite.

It strikes This Writer that these tweets may create something of a difficulty for Ms Riley, in legal terms, because anyone defending Mr Rosen in response to her comments – either before or after her “Antisemites upset again” tweet – may reasonably infer that tweet to refer to them. And they may consider it to be libellous against them.

So not only is it possible that she and her employers at Channel 4 may receive a complaint about her behaviour from Mr Rosen – they already have from at least one other person…

… but she may also receive a “letter before action”, either individually or as a group, from a large number of people, some of them celebrities in their own right.

Oh, and Jeremy Corbyn might also consider getting involved, considering the fact that he was also attacked in that doctored image, that an innocent person has suffered harm because of it, because of the Hirsh article and because of the Riley tweets, and that Hirsh himself has challenged him to take such action:

It seems clear that this kind of behaviour – that may harm the reputations and ruin the lives of good people – may continue until somebody with the wherewithal finally puts a stop to it.

Is it forlorn to hope that this could be the catalyst for that to happen?

While we wait to find out, please remember that I am one of those whose reputation and life has been harmed – and I’m still trying to pay my legal team after my own four-year battle with Ms Riley. If you have been moved by the story above, then please help in any 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.

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, where it appears on that website. But please remember to include a message telling me it’s for the crowdfund!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: a few people on Facebook have suggested that people could not sue Ms Riley because “in order for a libel action to stand, the court has to be convinced that it could be interpreted as referring to a specific individual”. This is not true.

From my copy of Essential Law for Journalists:

“The test of whether the words identified the person suing is whether they would reasonably lead people acquainted with him to believe that he was the person referred to.” So, for example, Robin Ince (of The Infinite Monkey Cage on Radio 4) may have a prime facie case because he published a popular tweet defending Michael Rosen and Ms Riley tweeted words that may be taken as meaning anyone supporting him is an anti-Semite.

To continue: “During the late 1980s and 1990s the Police Federation, representing junior police officers, made good use of this aspect of the libel law in many actions against newspapers on behalf of their members… Many of the officers were not named… The test of identification is not whether the general reader knew who was referred to, but whether some individuals… did.”

Also, the person suing doesn’t even have to prove that the words they’re complaining about actually refer to them: “A journalist sued successfully over an article… which neither named nor described him. A person reading the article carefully would have noted various details which were inconsistent with a reference to [him]. However, the court said ordinary people often skimmed through such articles casually, not expecting a high degree of accuracy. If, as a result of such reading, they reached the conclusion that the article referred to the plaintiff, then identification was proved.”


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Right-wing news channel falsely accuses Jewish cartoonist of making anti-Semitic cartoon

Michael Rosen: He’s Jewish but has previously been accused of anti-Semitism over his support for Jeremy Corbyn. Now he has been accused of anti-Semitism on an entirely false premise.

We seem to be living in an age of accusing Jewish people of being anti-Semitic.

It’s utter insanity – this time perpetrated by right-wing current affairs channel GB News against Jewish poet and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.

It seems GB News presenter Katherine Forster accidentally attributed a cartoon in The Guardian to Mr Rosen, when it was actually by Martin Rowson.

Unfortunately for all concerned, this particular cartoon featured a depiction of recently-resigned BBC Chairman Richard Sharp – who is Jewish – with a box marked Goldman Sachs, where he used to work, that contained what appeared to be a puppet of the current prime minister Rishi Sunak, an animal that looks like a squid and a CV – while Boris Johnson, on a high pile of an unidentifiable substance (the Independent seems to have reckoned money) calls out encouragingly to him.

The cartoon has been described as having “antisemitic imagery” such as “outsized, grotesque features” alongside “money and power”.

Mr Rowson has apologised profusely for the image, as reported in The Independent:

“Satirists, even though largely licenced to speak the unspeakable in liberal democracies, are no more immune to f****** things up than anyone else, which is what I did here.

“I know Richard Sharp is Jewish; actually, while we’re collecting networks of cronyism, I was at school with him, though I doubt he remembers me.

“His Jewishness never crossed my mind as I drew him as it’s wholly irrelevant to the story or his actions, and it played no conscious role in how I twisted his features according to the standard cartooning playbook.”

The Guardian has also published an apology on Twitter:

And the cartoon has indeed been removed.

GB News seems to have been more reticent about apologising for its own transgression.

Mr Rosen contacted the channel – via Twitter – at 4pm on Saturday, and requested a response detailing what it proposed to do about the error:

He repeated his request almost a quarter of an hour later:

From the tweet that follows, it seems GB News deleted its tweeted clip showing discussion of the cartoon, but not before it had been viewed 79,000 times.

At around 5pm, Ms Forster tweeted an apology to Mr Rosen and said the tweet had been removed. He responded with gratitude for her words, and with a statement crystallising his own view – that GB News should broadcast a correction along with its own apology:

He had already requested a correction by the time he had responded to Ms Forster:

By now, his supporters were making suggestions of their own. Mr Rosen, in the spirit of fairness, said he was waiting for GB News to respond:

Then he even put up a suggested wording:

That was at 5.36pm, Saturday, April 29. I’ve seen no apology/correction from GB News – although it has published a story about The Guardian‘s apology for the cartoon.

That piece does not mention or apologise for the broadcast comments about Martin Rowson.

This Site has contacted GB News to find out what the channel intends to do – if anything.

If no apology is forthcoming, it will be up to Mr Rosen to decide whether to take the matter further.


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Non-Labour ‘Labour Against Anti-Semitism’ boss in anti-Semitic attack on former Children’s Laureate

Anti-Semitic: and this tweet was published by a director of Labour Against Anti-Semitism (who isn’t a member of the Labour Party). Credibility blown?

When it all falls apart for so-called anti-Semitism crusaders, it seems to fall apart badly.

Peter Newbon is a director of Labour Against Anti-Semitism (LAAS), despite not being a member of the Labour Party (it would be interesting to find out if he has any other political affiliations).

Today, May 19, he tweeted an image of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reading Jewish former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to a group of children, with the image altered so the book appears to be the anti-Semitic text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The caption was: “‘Oh no! A J-… er, I mean a ZIONIST! A nasty, horrible Zionist! We can’t go over him, we can’t go under him, we’ll have to make an effigy…'”

See for yourself:

This is clearly an anti-Semitic message, linking all Jewish people with a racist ideology in what appears to be an attempt to “normalise” Zionism along the lines of Robert Jenrick’s “Anti-Zionism is antisemitism” nonsense.

Now, serious questions are being asked about Labour Against Anti-Semitism, and Newbon’s university job also appears to be at risk.

Questions are even being asked of the Labour Party, whose leaders have signalled support for LAAS on many occasions:

Let’s all keep a close eye on this one.

I think some very nasty people have a lot of explaining to 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.

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People are still saying Covid-19 isn’t real. Let’s hear from some people who have had it

Michael Rosen: he may have permanent hearing loss in his left ear because of Covid-19 but you go on saying it’s just the ‘flu if it helps you sleep at night. Or until it happens to you.

You know the story. You’ve probably heard it from somebody you know.

It’s the one that says Covid-19 doesn’t exist; that it’s just the ‘flu. “I mean no more people have died of it than die of ‘flu, right?”

We’ll skim over the fact that it isn’t over yet, and that it hasn’t taken as many lives as it would have without lockdown, social distancing and all the other restrictions that – albeit belatedly – have been imposed to improve our life expectancies.

These people tend never to have met anybody who has actually had Covid-19.

So here’s BBC correspondent Lucy Adams, who contracted the virus way back in March:

My limbs and head ached, my throat burned and my head was foggy… I could … walk the kids round the block to get them some fresh air but then I would sleep all afternoon.

After seven days my temperature went up from a fever of 37.7C (100F) to a burning hot 39.4C (103F) and stayed there for 10 days. The pain in my back was agony.

The illness lingered. I couldn’t sleep. I felt nauseous and had horrific abdominal pain. I sweated and shivered all the time. I couldn’t stand up but lying down was painful.

My daughter and I both got a full body rash and lost our sense of taste and smell.

Then came the breathlessness. First from walking up the stairs. Then just lying in bed, it felt impossible to fill my lungs.

Here’s the thing: it didn’t go away.

By the time I had been sick for seven weeks I remember telling my brother I felt ashamed for being off work for so long.

The NHS suggested Covid would last about two weeks yet I was still getting fevers and palpitations and so many other symptoms after two months.

And now – seven months later?

On good days I can go for a slow walk – pausing to sit on pavements and fallen trees to catch my breath. I can hold a conversation and pass myself off as fairly normal. On bad days it feels impossible to move from bed. The mattress feels like a ship rolling in a rough sea, my hands shake, my vision blurs, I struggle for breath, my body shivers and vibrates, and every sound cuts through my head like shattered glass.

I can still do things but every action has repercussions. If I empty the whole dishwasher at once I might get a migraine so I do one layer at a time. If I go for a walk, I have to go straight to bed afterwards. If I walk too far I might end up with a fever. Vertigo, brain fog, tremors and heart palpitations come and go as they please. And there’s the constant sinking fatigue – plus a gnawing anxiety because I don’t know when I will get better.

And no-one seems to know what is happening in my body.

Those are the words of a woman with so-called “Long Covid”. Does it read like ‘flu to you?

Alternatively, let’s consider somebody who had the short version of Covid-19. He nearly died – but of course that happens to people with ‘flu, too.

Here’s Michael Rosen – the ex-Children’s Laureate. He tweeted about his own experience after Spencer Morgan (whoever he is) suggested Covid was no worse than ‘flu:

A couple of days ago, he reported a new development:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to risk microbleeds in my brain that damage any of my senses.

I don’t want blood clots in my lungs. I don’t want to lose my sight, hearing, or the feeling in my toes.

certainly don’t want vertigo, brain fog, tremors and heart palpitations that come and go as they please, and as a long-term sufferer of cluster headaches (now acknowledged by the NHS as the condition that causes the most excruciating pain a person can have) I absolutely do not want any more migraines.

So, hey, let’s all… I don’t know… give Covid-19 the benefit of the doubt, eh? And let’s do everything we can to make sure we can’t get it, and nobody near us spreads it to other people we know. I know it will be hard with the schools still open.

Let’s put on the masks; let’s keep our respective distances from people nearby. Let’s remember that it isn’t forever; it’s just for a little longer.

Shall we give it a go?

Source: BBC correspondent: ‘Long Covid has left me exhausted for seven months’ – 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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