I have to raise around £20,000 within a month or my lawyers will not be able to prepare my appeal properly before it goes before the court on April 27.
That was the stark fact my solicitor put before me in a lengthy email yesterday evening.
The sudden push for funding has happened because the Court of Appeal has scheduled my case on an “expedited” basis, meaning the hearing will take place at its convenience rather than that of either party.
It has allowed only two hours for the appeal to be heard – one hour for me, one for Riley – but the arguments she has submitted amount to a completely new case against me.
My solicitor tells me he initially thought that two hours was “tight but workable” – until he saw Riley’s skeleton argument.
She is really running a whole new strike out application deploying legal arguments that she did not deploy before.
She is entitled to raise new arguments that support the High Court’s decision to strike out my defence, it seems – but normally this would involve putting the case she had already made in a new way rather than presenting the course with a completely new case.
And because it is a new argument, her legal team at Patron Law would be expected to challenge the Court of Appeal’s time estimate. But they have not.
As matters stand, this means my own team now – suddenly – need to an enormous amount of work in a very short time. Indeed, the court ordered yesterday (March 18) that my legal team had to submit its legal paperwork and any revision of our own skeleton argument by March 16 – two days previously. As this is impossible it means my team has had to scramble to try to obtain a revised timetable.
On top of all this (or rather, underlying it – because this was what we expected to have to do), because my case relies on a defence that is not extensively defined, the Court of Appeal may wish to refine or restate the law on the “public interest” defence and my legal team needs to be prepared to guide it.
Given the lack of time provided by the court, it is possible that I will be faced with one of several unwelcome decisions. It could decide that Riley is running a new case and if so, it could grant my appeal but send the matter back to the High Court and I would have to try to raise even more funds to fight the new allegations. It could dismiss my appeal, simply to draw a line under the matter (although this would be an unusual and, in my opinion, unjust outcome). It could say it wants more time and adjourn for a further hearing, possibly far in the future, meaning I would have to try to raise more funds because my legal team would have to carry out their preparation work again. Or it might make do with the current time estimate and either tell the lawyers to pick their best points or cut them off after an hour each, no matter what they were saying.
Given the above, my point of view is that I’m being asked to beg you – my funders – for £20,000 in very short order, to fund a hearing that is unlikely to have adequate time for all the issues to be aired and may either be cut short (which seems to me to be against the interests of justice) or either adjourned or postponed to what may be a much later date, incurring equal or greater costs.
Given those options, I have told my solicitor that I think it would be reasonable to remind the court that my resources are extremely limited in comparison to those of a Claimant who has effectively put an entirely new case before us all but has failed to request extra time for it to be discussed, and that I believe it would be in the interests of justice to vacate the hearing to a date when all the issues can be given the proper weight.
Whatever happens, you can see that the underlying tactic by Riley’s legal team is still to drain my funds, so I won’t have enough to defend myself.
If the appeal happens with a short, two-hour hearing, then I will have been forced to try to raise a large amount of money in a tiny period of time, which is unfair on my funders (meaning you).
If I manage that, but the case is sent back to the High Court because it involves new arguments, or is adjourned to a later date to allow more time, then I will have to ask you for even more money – which is again unfair on you.
It seems clear to me that Mark Lewis and his team at Patron Law know perfectly well what they are doing. They could have requested an adjournment to allow the longer hearing that they know their new case deserves, but they deliberately chose not to. I think that was to put pressure on you – my funders – to put you off helping me.
So I find myself in the awful position of having to ask you to support me with anything you can, as soon as you can – and to urge anybody you know, who might still by sympathetic to justice, to do the same – knowing that I am asking a lot and you may run out of patience.
And I have to do this, knowing that I may have to ask you for even more, possibly very soon after the April 27 hearing.
By now you are probably tired of reading the instruction, but I have to repeat them. Please:
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 CrowdJustice site.
It is a diabolical situation and I am sure that Patron Law – and Rachel Riley – intended it.
Riley has tried to use her huge wealth to buy justice in this case, ever since she started her case against me nearly two years ago.
With your help, I have come a long way. My public interest defence has a very high chance of success, if I can bring it to a trial.
I think that is why Riley and her people are trying so hard to make this appeal unaffordable for me.
As I say, I have asked my own lawyers to request a postponement that will allow all the necessary work to happen, provide enough court time for all the arguments to be properly aired, and allow me to raise the funds necessary for all of it.
But I must proceed on the basis that this will not happen and a very short, two-hour appeal will happen on April 27.
Please help me ensure that, if that is what must happen, I can not only bring my case to the court, but also bring my best 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.
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