Despite losing her Redcar seat last week, Anna Turley’s fortunes have brightened today after emerging victorious from her high court libel fight with Skwawkbox and being awarded £75,000 in damages. Withhold your laughter…
The case in question surrounded a blog post on the site in 2017 containing a press statement from Unite, which gave the impression she had been dishonest when applying to join the union – in turn also misusing her private information. During the hearings, both Unite and Skwawkbox blogger Stephen Walker claimed she wasn’t fit to be an MP – something, ironically, the voters of Redcar agreed with…
Turley had wanted over £100,000, only to be haggled down to just £75,000 in damages – still thousands more than Guido presumes Skwawkbox can afford. Read Turley’s full statement below:
“I am very pleased with today’s verdict, and to be able to say that I have won my libel action against Unite the Union and Skwawkbox.
The judge found that the article caused serious harm to my reputation and there were no reasonable grounds to suspect any form of dishonesty on my part. For Skwawkbox to have publicly accused me of this in their article was deeply damaging to my professional reputation and extremely hurtful. The judge also found that Unite’s contribution to the article was ‘the equivalent of throwing a substantial amount of fuel over a very small fire’.
“Despite my efforts to settle in this protracted period, the defendants continued to pursue this case, substantially increasing the costs and doubling down on efforts to further damage my reputation. Their attempts at character assassination during this process, and in particular in the courtroom during a general election, were frankly appalling. The judge himself concluded that ‘the Defendants’ conduct during the trial has seriously aggravated the harm to the Claimant’s reputation and her distress’. This has been an extremely stressful and unpleasant process, and one I never imagined I would be engaged in with a Trade Union.
It was also a source of great surprise to me that Unite were funding legal costs for Skwawkbox. I continue to find all this a colossal waste of members money and I hope serious questions will be asked of the leadership of the Union by its members. This issue could have been put to bed two and a half years ago with a simple apology and removal of the libellous article.
“It gave me no pleasure to undertake this action, but the accusations were so serious and damaging to my reputation that I had no choice but to defend myself through the Courts.
“Free speech is always important, but politically-motivated libel and publishing untrue allegations as fact, simply serve to undermine democracy and further erode faith in elected representatives. I am very pleased that our legal system has provided justice today.
“I hope this verdict will send a message on the importance of journalistic integrity and that while politicians are rightly open to high levels of scrutiny and accountability, they should not be subjected to untrue public statements that can damage their reputation on such serious issues as their honesty and integrity. Libel laws exist to protect and defend free speech within a democracy.
“I am extremely grateful to my fantastic legal team. The defendants had seemingly bottomless pockets when funding this case and my team have been first rate.”