This is excellent news:
The multimillionaire Brexit backer Arron Banks has lost his libel action against the Observer and Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr, which was criticised as an attack on free speech.
Here’s the reason it’s good:
Campaigners for free speech and press freedom characterised the claim as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (Slapp) – an attempt to shut down public criticism.
You can read more details by following the link below. For This Writer, it is significant because Rachel Riley’s libel suit against me has also been described as a SLAPP case.
Back in 2019, I wrote:
According to a recent letter in The Guardian, abuse of defamation law, including through SLAPP lawsuits, has become a serious threat to press freedom and advocacy rights in a number of countries, including the UK.
The legal claim against me, issued on July 9 by lawyers acting for Rachel Riley, is a clear example of a SLAPP lawsuit, in which a wealthy individual is apparently abusing the law in an attempt to silence a journalist and distract from the issues being discussed.
I wish I had known about the Guardian letter because I would have added my name to it.
It calls on the government to consider new legislation to prevent the abuse of defamation law to silence public interest reporting.
It also urges ministers to take a clear public stance condemning such practices and supporting investigative journalism and independent media.
This ties in with the fact that I – an independent journalist (and carer) of limited means – am being sued by a very wealthy celebrity because UK defamation law allows it.
Ms Riley won’t have to compensate me if her case is disproved (although she may face an order to pay a contribution toward my costs – which may come in handy if there is a shortfall between what I raise here and the cost of my defence).
In fact, it seems she won’t lose anything more than dignity if she loses the case because she has taken out insurance against that eventuality.
I stand to win nothing. My case is purely defensive. I simply don’t have the resources to mount a counter-claim (unless anyone knows better).
So, in the absence of laws to stop the wealthy abusing the justice system, I must rely on donations by members of the public – or I can’t mount a defence.
Ms Riley seems to find this offensive. Apparently she considers this CrowdJustice campaign to be an aggravating factor in her case.
Personally, I think her case against me should be used as an aggravating factor in the evidence for reform to ban SLAPP lawsuits like this.
My CrowdJustice campaign is still running, after more than three years, and still welcoming donations. If you want to help:
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.
Use other social media in the same way.
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 at the bottom of this article. But please remember to include a message telling me it’s for the crowdfund!
Above all, this shows that rich people, who try to abuse the UK’s flawed legal system for their own advantage, can be defeated.
I’m looking forward to doing that to another such person next month.
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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