07 Mar BREXITEER ARRON BANKS PARTIALLY WINS LIBEL APPEAL AGAINST AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST CAROLE CADWALLADR
Businessman and Brexiteer Arron Banks has been partially vindicated in his controversial libel case against journalist Carole Cadwalladr.
Banks sued journalist Cadwalladr for libel over a TED Talk and a Tweet she posted in April 2019. Cadwalladr alleged that Banks had secretly broken the law on electoral funding by taking money from Russia and had lied about it: “And I am not even going to get into the lies that Arron Banks has told about his covert relationship with the Russian Government. “Her TED Talk has been viewed more than 5 million times and remains online.
On 29 April 2020 the Electoral Commission announced that a National Crime Agency investigation concluded there was no evidence to support the allegations against Banks. This is a key date after which Cadwalladr’s claims in the TED Talk were authoritatively debunked.
In June 2022 the High Court dismissed Bank’s claim, finding that before 29 April 2020 Cadwalladr could rely on the “public interest” defence because she “reasonably believed” her claims against Banks, and that after 29 April 2020 Banks had not suffered serious harm to his reputation. The Court reasoned that Bank’s reputation had not been harmed because Cadwalladr was speaking to persons in “her own echo chamber” “who wouldn’t have thought very much of Banks” and whose opinions were of “no consequence” him.
Banks appealed to the Court of Appeal, which handed down its decision on 28 February 2023. Three judges upheld Cadwalladr’s “public interest” defence until 29 April 2020, but found that Banks’ reputation was harmed by the TED Talk after that date – in so doing, it labelled the High Court’s reasoning as “unsound”. The result is that Cadwalladr could now have to pay Banks damages. The amount of those damages is yet to be determined.