Ruling due in libel fight between Countdown's Rachel Riley and political blogger
A High Court judge is due to give her ruling after a libel trial between Countdown co-presenter Rachel Riley and a political blogger.
Ms Riley is suing Michael Sivier, who published an article on his website Vox Political on January 26 2019 with the headline “Serial abuser Rachel Riley to receive ‘extra protection’ – on grounds that she is receiving abuse”.
The article discussed tweets posted as part of an online debate on antisemitism in the Labour Party, some of which were exchanged between Ms Riley and a user, who identified herself as a then 16-year-old called Rose, in December 2018 and January 2019.
A judge previously found that Mr Sivier’s article would be read as claiming Ms Riley “engaged upon, supported and encouraged a campaign of online abuse and harassment of a 16-year-old girl”, allegations denied by Ms Riley.
During the trial at the High Court in London in July, Ms Riley said the amount of abuse she received increased significantly from January 9 2019, describing it as “horrendous”.
Mr Sivier defended the claim by arguing he had a “reasonable belief” it was in the public interest to publish the claims in the article.
The blogger had originally defended the libel claim on the grounds of truth and honest opinion as well as public interest.
In January 2021, Mrs Justice Collins Rice struck out all three of Mr Sivier’s defences, finding that they had “no prospect” of succeeding.
However, Mr Sivier won a challenge at the Court of Appeal four months later, finding that his public interest defence should be assessed at a trial.
Mrs Justice Steyn is now due to give her judgment on the claim at 10.30am on Wednesday.