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Rachel Riley wins first battle in claim against Jeremy Corbyn aide

by Nikole Del Fabbro (2020-06-19)

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5.jpgCountdown host Rachel Riley has won the first round in her legal battle against one of Jeremy Corbyn's closest aides, who said she was 'as dangerous as she is stupid'.

A High Court judge ruled that the comments posted online by Laura Murray, head of complaints for the Labour party, against the TV star showed a 'defamatory tendency'.

Mr Justice Nicklin also said the description of Riley was defamatory within common law.

The legal action followed a Twitter row between Riley, 33, and Murray, after former Labour leader Corbyn had an egg thrown at him outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, London on March 4 last year.

Murray said a post retweeted by Riley compared Corbyn to a Nazi and inferred he deserved to be attacked. 






Laura Murray, head of complaints for the Labour party and an aide of Jeremy Corbyn, claimed a post retweeted by Rachel Riley compared Corbyn to a Nazi and inferred he deserved to be attacked 


In a tweet that has since been removed, Murray wrote: 'Today Jeremy Corbyn went to his local mosque for visit my mosque day, and was attacked by a Brexiteer.

'Rachel Riley tweets that Corbyn deserves to be violently attacked because he is a Nazi.

'This woman is as dangerous as she is stupid. Nobody should engage with her. Ever.'

In response, Riley launched legal action against Murray. 

Legal papers lodged at the High Court alleged that the TV star's reputation has been 'seriously damaged' and she has been caused 'substantial anxiety, humiliation, upset and distress' because of Murray's tweet.  






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Losing the opening round of their legal battle means Murray now potentially faces having to prove that Riley would support violent action against Corbyn to defend the £50,000 libel case. 

Riley launched her legal action a year ago as the anti-Semitism row raged within the Labour Party. 

The dispute originally began hours after a protester threw an egg at Corbyn outside the mosque last year.

Riley, who is Jewish, took to Twitter, having used the social media platform to attack the then-Labour leader over anti-Semitism within his party






Legal papers lodged at the High Court alleged that the Rachel Riley's reputation has been 'seriously damaged' and she has been caused 'substantial anxiety, humiliation, upset and distress' because of Murray's tweet


She re-tweeted a comment made by left wing commentator Owen Jones two months earlier when a neo-Nazi had an egg thrown at him.

The columnist for the Guardian newspaper wrote at the time: 'I think sound life advice is, if you don't want eggs thrown at you, don't be a Nazi. Seems fair to me.

Riley re-tweeted the comment as a reference to Corbyn being hit by an egg and described it as 'good advice'.

Murray, daughter of trade union leader Andrew Murray, used her own Twitter account to mount what Riley's lawyer said was an 'appalling distortion of the truth'. 

In his preliminary ruling, Mr Justice Nicklin rejected legal submissions from Murray's lawyers that her tweet was a stating an opinion and not defamatory.

He said the tweet posted by Murray represented a 'statement of fact.'

The judge said in an assessment of the 'natural and ordinary meaning of the tweet' Murray's claim that anti-Corbyn campaigner Riley was 'as dangerous as she is stupid' and that 'Nobody should engage with her. Ever' was indeed opinion - but it was also 'defamatory at common law'.

In his written judgement, Mr Justice Nicklin broke down the Murray tweet sentence by sentence to show what he said was defamatory and what in his opinion was a statement of fact.

He said the allegation that Riley was ‘a dangerous and 한국영화 stupid person who people should not engage with' was defamatory as was the claim by Murray that Riley had said Corbyn deserved to be ‘violently attacked.'






In his preliminary ruling, Mr Justice Nicklin rejected legal submissions from Murray's lawyers that her tweet was a stating an opinion and not defamatory







He said the allegation that Riley was ‘a dangerous and stupid person who people should not engage with' was defamatory as was the claim by Murray that Riley had said Corbyn deserved to be ‘violently attacked'


The judge rejected the submission by Murray's QC Anthony Hudson that she was simply stating an opinion when she said Riley had called for Corbyn to be violently attacked.

He also ruled that the tweet by Riley did not have to be taken in context with any other material and pointed out the exchange took place over less than six hours.

In the submission he added: ‘Twitter is perhaps one of the most inhospitable terrains for any argument based on the context in which any particular Tweet appeared in a reader's timeline.'

Owen Jones, who had posted the original comment about a Nazi, weighed in on the row at the time and savaged Riley.

He accused her of 'having no moral compass' for comparing an attack on a neo-Nazi to one on Corbyn. Owen also said she was 'in the absolute gutter' over her tweet.

Owen wrote: 'A Brexiteer protester threw an egg at Jeremy Corbyn outside the same mosque which was attacked in 2017 by a far-right terrorist, whose main motive was murdering Corbyn himself.

'The tweet you're quoting refers to Nick Griffin, *an actual Nazi*. You're in the absolute gutter.'

In another tweet, he wrote: 'If @RachelRileyRR thinks it's acceptable to compare refusing to condemn an anti-fascist egging a Nazi with a rightwing protester egging Corbyn - who she is de facto calling a Nazi - outside a mosque targeted by a far-right terrorist who wanted him dead, she has no moral compass.' 






Riley had to be given extra protection on the Channel 4 game show after a torrent online abuse from her stand against anti-Semitism


Riley had to be given extra protection on the Channel 4 game show after a torrent online abuse from her stand against anti-Semitism.

She revealed online trolls had targeted her for speaking out and described the level of abuse as 'shocking.'

Murray was appointed as a political advisor to the Shadow Cabinet in 2016 and later head of complaints.

An avowed socialist she once posed for a photo in the House of Commons with a necklace that spelled out the slogan: F*** the Tories.

Her father is chief of staff of the Unite Union and a former member of the Communist Party.

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