Carole Cadwalladr has already admitted that her claims that Arron Banks was in the pay of the Russians were untrue and apologised to him for making them, as well as giving an undertaking not to repeat the claims. She is still defending the defamation case, and raising crowd funding for her defence, on novel grounds. Her last line of defence hinges on the idea that she was a responsible journalist, working in the public interest and made an honest mistake. Responsible journalists of course do everything they can to ensure the accuracy of their stories. At the start of her cross examination the Court learnt, in the most graphic way possible, that accuracy is not a strong point with Carole…
Below is an excerpt from the verbatim transcript of the start of the cross examination of Carole Cadwalladr:
MS CAROLE CADWALLADR (affirmed)
MR MILLAR: Could you give the court your full name, please?
A. Carole Jane Cadwalladr.
Q. Go to bundle A, there is a witness statement in your name
Q. On the screen now. It runs internally for 47 pages and ends at page 289 in the bundle, where there is a signature.
Q. Is that your signature in the witness statement?
Q. That’s dated 23 November 2021. Are the facts as stated in that witness statement true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
MR MILLAR: Would you wait there, please.
Cross examination by MR McCORMICK
MR McCORMICK: So, Ms Cadwalladr, you’ve checked the witness statement, you’re satisfied there is nothing needs to be changed?
A. (inaudible) something.
Q. First of all, if you could answer the question I asked you: are you satisfied that there’s nothing that needs to be changed?
A. There are since making (inaudible) the witness statement, I have reflected upon the contents of it. My first draft was 40,000 words and, with my legal team’s help, it was condensed. I tried to be completist about what I included and, on the instruction that I should I needed to include what was in my head at the point that I made the TED Talk. And so to truthfully reflect on what was in my head when I made the TED Talk, I wrote the first draft of it at extreme length and it was subsequently cut down somewhat.
Q. I’m sorry, Ms Cadwalladr, the question I asked you was: did you feel there were any changes that needed to be made to your witness statement? I think that requires a yes or a no, followed by whatever explanation you might want to give. But I have asked the question now three times, so can you please answer it with a yes or no and then any qualification.
A. Yes sorry. Sorry, yes, I ’m obviously satisfied at the point that I submitted in my witness statement. There are .. I think there are other things which could have been included.
Q. But what’s included in your witness statement, are you content that those are entirely accurate?
A. I think there are some minor inaccuracies in the statement that .. I think there are potentially some 20 minor inaccuracies in the statement. It was true to the best of my knowledge at the time that I submitted it.
Q. But not when you simply swore to say that it was true to the best of your knowledge and belief a few moments ago, because by that stage you had realised there were some minor inaccuracies in it ?
A. I wrote the statement with the instruction to write it absolutely honestly and truthfully of what was in my head before I gave the TED Talk, and that the statement reflects that absolutely and truthfully.
Q. I’m sorry, Ms Cadwalladr, that’s not the question I asked you. You said that there are some minor inaccuracies in the statement. You have just sworn that to the best of your knowledge and belief that statement is true. Now, are there minor inaccuracies in the witness statement?
A. There .. it’s possible.
Q. What do you mean it’s possible? You mean you haven’t identified whether or not there are any or you have identified them? You’re the first one who has mentioned minor inaccuracies in the statement, so I ’m assuming from that, but correct me if I ’m wrong, that you realised before you took the oath that there were minor inaccuracies in your witness statement. Is that correct?
A. (Pause). I ’m sorry, Mr McCormick, I’m trying so hard to be absolutely and honestly truthful in every respect, and I apologise if I blustered .. if I stumbled at this point.
Q. There’s no need to apologise, Ms Cadwalladr. It’s a stressful position to be in, I appreciate that. You were the one who mentioned that there were minor inaccuracies in your witness statement, you volunteered that, and I’m asking you to confirm that there are or there aren’t minor inaccuracies in your witness statement. It ’s relating to what you believe concerning the accuracy of your own witness statement.
A. There was identified in my head a point of fact that I wished to check.
Q. When did you identify that point of fact that you wished to check?
A. I think on .. some point on Thursday.
Q. Right. And have you checked that point?
A. I have not checked that point.
Q. Why not?
A. Because I have been reviewing thousands of documents.
Q. And when you went into the witness box and took your oath, had you forgotten that there was a point of fact that you wished to review?
Q. I see. And I have brought it to your attention?
Q. Are there any other matters, because you referred to minor inaccuracies, plural , are there any other matters that you have identified?
Q. So it’s just one?
A. I think so, yes.
Q. I’m sorry?
Q. Right. Okay.
Her cross examination was extraordinary, rambling, at one point she claimed that the libel she has already admitted to be untrue, and for which she has apologised, was true. She told the judge at one point, of a perfectly fair line of questioning, “I think this line of questioning is deliberate to shame and humiliate me. Part of that effort to shame and humiliate me is to do with me being a woman”. That’s the same line she takes when anyone challenges the accuracy of her journalism.
This evening after completing her cross examination, she tweeted a self-pitying thread concluding with the claim:
“And I’m not even going to go into the lies that Arron Banks has told about his covert relationship with the Russian government.”
Basically repeating the libel that got her to the point where she is today in court…