Countdown star Rachel Riley LOSES latest round of libel battle against pro-Corbyn blogger who called her ‘serial abuser’ and blamed her for death threats sent to girl, 16, on Twitter
- Rachel Riley sued Mike Sivier over an article published online in January 2019
- High Court judge ruled in favour of Ms Riley and struck out Mr Sivier’s defence
- But Court of Appeal judges ruled his public interest defence should be assessed
- Ms Riley has also sued an ex-aide to Corbyn for libel in s separate damages fight
Countdown star Rachel Riley has lost the latest round of a libel battle against a pro-Jeremy Corbyn blogger who called her a ‘serial abuser’ and blamed her for the death threats sent to a 16-year-old girl on Twitter.
Ms Riley, 35, sued Mike Sivier, who published an article on his website Vox Political in January 2019 with the headline: ‘Serial abuser Rachel Riley to receive ‘extra protection’ – on grounds that she is receiving abuse.’
Mr Sivier defended what he had published, arguing that it was ‘substantially true’, honest opinion, and a matter of public interest.
But a High Court judge ruled in favour of Ms Riley and struck out Mr Sivier’s defences in January this year. Mrs Justice Collins Rice concluded that he had ‘no prospect’ of succeeding at a trial.
However Mr Sivier launched an appeal against the ruling, and today won the latest round in the legal battle, after three Court of Appeal judges ruled that Mr Sivier’s public interest defence should be assessed at a trial.
Countdown star Rachel Riley (pictured left) has lost the latest round of a libel battle against Mike Sivier (right) who called her a ‘serial abuser’ and blamed her for the death threats sent to a 16-year-old girl on Twitter
One appeal judge, Lord Justice Warby, said in a written ruling: ‘I would allow the appeal.
‘I would set aside the order striking out the defence of publication on matter of public interest.’
He added: ‘In my view, the appropriate course is for the public interest defence to be assessed at a trial.’
The two other appeal judges, Lord Justice Henderson and Dame Victoria Sharp, said they agreed.
It comes as Ms Riley waits to hear whether she has won a separate damages fight after suing a former aide to Jeremy Corbyn for libel.
She sued Laura Murray, 32, over a tweet posted two years ago.
Ms Riley (above) also sued Laura Murray, 32, over a tweet posted two years ago. A High Court judge finished overseeing a three-day trial at the High Court in London earlier this week
A High Court judge finished overseeing a three-day trial at the High Court in London earlier this week.
Mr Justice Nicklin is expected to publish a ruling in the near future.
Ms Riley’s dispute with Mr Sivier centres on tweets posted as part of an online debate on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, some of which were exchanged between Ms Riley and a Twitter user who identified herself as a 16-year-old called Rose.
The TV presenter has told how she is Jewish, has a ‘hatred of anti-Semitism’, speaks out against it and thinks the Corbyn-led Labour Party was ‘fostering anti-Semitism’.
Ms Riley, who studied mathematics at Oxford University, had asked Mrs Justice Collins Rice to strike out Mr Sivier’s defences before the case went to trial.
Mrs Justice Collins Rice granted her application, and said that, contrary to allegations in Mr Sivier’s article, Ms Riley’s online discussion with Rose was a ‘straightforward, rational and respectful exchange of views’.
The judge also said there was no evidence that the presenter had encouraged any of her 600,000 followers to harass Rose, and she was not responsible for any abuse the teenager received.
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