What a reaction to This Writer’s Court of Appeal victory over Rachel Riley!
After a tribunal of judges reinstated my “public interest” defence, it meant the case could go to trial – and the public got behind that idea in a big way.
From Friday afternoon onwards, my Twitter feed has been full of messages of support – thousands of them – offering me support and voicing the authors’ opinions about Ms Riley and her lawsuit. Here are a few examples:
A victory for us all Mike.
Well done for persevering.
— Another Jewish Voice (@YagudMiriam) May 14, 2021
Give this man a knighthood. Well done to you sir. Been tired of that woman on here for so long. Thank you, for sticking it to all the celebs who think they can say what they please and get away with it ❤️ you absolute legend.
— AnxiousBanshee (@Anxybansh) May 14, 2021
I'm so pleased for Mike Sivier (@MidWalesMike) that he's won his appeal.
I read the original judgement in detail. It featured clear and obvious errors in law which those of us familiar with the case were staggered by.
The case now proceeds to trial. Good luck Mike! 🙏
— Shaun Lawson (@shaunjlawson) May 14, 2021
Result, she’s a nasty bit of work. https://t.co/yaJl6HjPWO
— H ⚒ (@HEvzWhu) May 14, 2021
Rachel Riley will probably say that the court is AS…🤣🤪
— The_Strathfoyle_Wan (@Derrywan1976) May 14, 2021
Absolutely brilliant. Look forward to the Media trying to spin this one in a positive direction for that odious troll. https://t.co/Ml3uOMXTrN
— Steve W (@StevenW69808657) May 14, 2021
Good news Mike.
I can think of many seven-letter words to describe this.
And few four-letter ones to describe the TV presenter.
— Roger Gall (@Shambles151) May 14, 2021
Well done Mike!
She really is a nasty piece of work.
— Rajeev (@Rajeev_OneWorld) May 15, 2021
As you can see, a significant proportion of the responses are, at the very least, highly critical of Rachel Riley.
Back when the appeal hearing took place, she also received a high volume of criticism and, only the day after, her husband Pasha Kovalev was in the Mirror saying that it could harm the health of their second child:
Countdown star Rachel, 35, has suffered vile anti-Semitic abuse and told the Mirror this week how trolls have “become part of my daily life”.
Yesterday her name was a trending topic on Twitter, swamped with negative messages.
She has previously told how she became “very stressed and upset” over such abuse while pregnant with first child Maven, now 16 months, adding: “My baby stopped wriggling for a couple of days.”
At the time she blocked trolls, deciding engaging online was “not worth the hormones”.
But now, as the couple expect their second baby in autumn, Pasha is calling out the “acidity” of social media platforms as he fears the same happening again.
There certainly are trolls out there. I have suffered the attentions of some of them, among the mountain of praise I’ve had over the last couple of days. I’m sure Riley has received a number of messages that go beyond reasonable criticism and I certainly do not condone such behaviour. I never have.
But for the sake of clarity, and with no prejudice against Mr Kovalev (whose work on Strictly Come Dancing was much enjoyed by me, and who I understand also does a lot for charity): if Rachel Riley is experiencing the health issues described by the Mirror, as a result of tweets expressing critical opinions in the light of my case, my view is that that has been her choice.
As far as I’m aware, nobody forced her to behave in objectionable ways on Twitter, to such a degree that people have responded harshly in return.
Nobody forced her to sue me.
And nobody is forcing her to persist with her case against me.
As it seems clear that she is pushing ahead with it, then she has made a decision that will attract criticism, and she is perfectly aware of that.
So, in my opinion, if her child’s health is in any way endangered because of her emotional reaction to critical tweets about her court case against me, then that is her responsibility and nobody else’s.
Now, it seems, we are being asked to sympathise with her over the costs she has incurred. I read in some of our favourite right-wing papers this weekend that Riley’s legal bill could exceed £1 million:
Leading defamation lawyer Mark Stephens said Ms Riley is likely to have spent up to £70,000 in her fight so far.
Mr Stephens… added that the star could ultimately spend more than £1million on the case and said a full-scale libel trial ‘as an absolute floor is £500,000’.
He added: ‘If she wins she will get some costs back but she has lost this round so she will have to pay Mike Sivier’s costs and his barrister for the appeal which will be [£15,000] – £20,000.’
I think he’s more or less right about the “absolute floor” cost of the trial. My own costs are creeping up to the £200,000 mark and I know that her lawyers are charging much more than mine (although they appear to be supported by insurance, while I must rely on crowdfunding).
If her legal team is more expensive, then it seems unlikely that she has spent only £70,000 so far. Her legals tried to bill me £27,000 for the strike-out application alone (we objected to this, and my win on Friday is likely to have changed the argument on costs considerably).
But it seems odd to seek public sympathy over the amount she is having to spend. She is a millionaire, by all accounts. I am a carer, writing Vox Political in order to make enough money to scrape a living. Without the support I have received from thousands of people via the CrowdJustice fund, I would not have been able to fight her lawsuit.
And I do still believe that her intention all along was never to go as far as a trial. I think she expected to be able to bankrupt me, solely with the threat of an enormously expensive trial.
So articles like that in the Mail, that seem to be asking for public sympathy over the costs a millionaire is facing in suing a relatively penniless carer… well, they lack credibility, I think.
I am still relatively penniless, by the way. I’m not likely to receive any costs payout for winning the appeal because Riley still won much of the strike-out application, and my income declined sharply during the Covid-19 crisis and is only beginning to pick up again now.
You are therefore – as ever – invited to continue donating to my appeal, if and when you can afford it:
Consider making a donation yourself, 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 don’t have armies of reporters in the right-wing media, lining up to provide supportive puff pieces for me.
But the reaction I’ve had this weekend shows I do have the support of thousands upon thousands of people.
As the poem states: we are many; they are few.
And while they may be able to shout louder, and get more attention, they don’t have good arguments. We 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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