07 Aug RILEY AND OBERMAN DROP LIBEL CLAIM AGAINST BARRISTER
Countdown presenter Rachel Riley and actress Tracy-Ann Oberman have withdrawn their libel claim against barrister Jane Heybroek for retweeting a blog post that was critical of them.
The two women, who have brought a number of other defamation claims over responses to their efforts to speak out against anti-Semitism, had sued Heybroek for retweeting an article by Shaun Lawson.
The article was headlined “Beneath Contempt: How Tracy-Ann Oberman and Rachel Riley harassed, dog piled and slandered a 16-year-old child and her father”.
The article made allegations about Oberman and Riley’s behaviour towards a young Labour activist who had made comments about anti-Semitism within the party.
In a preliminary ruling on meaning handed down in May, Mr Justice Jay concluded the words in the article were ‘sufficiently serious’ that the reputations of Oberman and Riley ‘will have been lowered in the eyes of the likely readership’.
In a statement posted online, Ms Heybroek, who the judge had described as “broadly supportive of Jeremy Corbyn”, thanked her supporters and said that due to her spending £30,000 “at a very early stage” and a fundraiser she was able to “retain leading defamation lawyers, and properly contest the case.” Ms Heybroek had not penned the original blog and insisted she could not be held liable for the contents of the article and would have defended the claim in various ways had it proceeded.
Riley and Oberman’s solicitor said in a statement that his clients “chose not to proceed further after the judge had determined that the opinion expressed was capable of being defamatory, in circumstances where Jane Heybroek claimed that she had promptly deleted her tweet”.
Both Riley and Oberman have now made a contribution towards Heybroek’s costs.
The case is the latest in a series of media law claims over posts on social media, and in particular Twitter.