This is relevant to Rachel Riley’s court case against me because of her ever-changing attitude to whether Twitter users can influence their followers into attacking others.
Riley claimed, in her pleadings to the High Court when she applied to strike out my defence against her libel accusations, that Twitter users cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of their followers.
She meant that if one (or indeed one thousand) of her followers had taken it upon themselves to hurl abuse at a teenage girl after Riley had made misleading claims about her, then she could not possibly be held responsible for that.
The judge agreed, making this the official position according to UK law – at least until the forthcoming Online Harms legislation criminalises the use of Twitter to influence others in exactly that way, as it is expected to do.
Now consider Riley’s tweet about Novara Media founder Aaron Bastani (above). He had become a focus of media attention after it was alleged that he quit the Labour Party in advance of a possible suspension and investigation for reasons undisclosed. It later transpired that he had quit sometime last year to ensure that his work as a journalist could not be compromised by political interference from Labour.
Riley’s comment suggests that Bastani uses his social media platforms – including Twitter – to “inflate or lead an illicit or illegal activity” (that’s the dictionary definition of a ringleader).
In other words, it seems she was saying that Bastani was responsible for using Twitter to whip up his followers into supporting anti-Semitism. She provided no evidence to support this.
Bastani has said he is consulting his lawyers on a possible response through the courts. At first this was reported as action against the websites that reported on his departure from Labour but he has clarified that he is considering action against Riley herself.
If he examines Twitter, he should find evidence to help him in a thread by Riley on December 15, 2018 – just as she was getting involved in the events that were the basis for my article about her, and therefore her lawsuit against me.
In it, she accused Owen Jones of the same – or at least similar – behaviour, putting forward the view that celebrities – so-called “blue tick” Twitter users – could use their popularity on the social media to “inspire” their Twitter followers into a “frenzy” and then set them to “attack” others, using Twitter as the platform for their attack.
So in December 2020, Riley said (through her lawyers) that this was not possible, but in February 2021 and December 2018 she accused other people of it.
This is clearly a contradiction.
If Mr Bastani does take Riley to court – and I would strongly urge him to do so – he would be well advised to ask: When was Rachel Riley lying? In December 2018 and February 2021 when she accused others? Or in December 2020 when she tried to whitewash herself?
If you are as outraged by this apparent show of hypocrisy as I am, then please remember that I am still fundraising to defend myself against the injustice she is trying to perpetrate against me, arising from such false claims. 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 appeal. This is particularly important at the moment as my @MidWalesMike account is currently suspended – apparently at the request of followers of Riley who should would say were acting entirely of their own volition.
I am sick of the way people like this can apparently contradict themselves time and again while claiming the moral high ground – and getting the courts to agree with them.
Let’s put a stop to it.