High Court Grants Permission for Banks to Appeal Cadwalladr Verdict

The High Court has given Arron Banks permission to proceed with an appeal against his libel claim loss to Carole Cadwalladr. Banks appealed the verdict on five counts, with Justice Steyn today granting appeal permission on one count she claimed has a “real prospect of success” – on whether the threshold for “serious harm” inflicted by Cadwalladr’s TED talk needed to be reassessed since Banks had previously proved it.

Banks’ QC said:

“The claimant succeeded in discharging the burden of establishing that the publication complained of had caused and was likely to cause serious harm to his reputation. At that point, it was for the defendant to demonstrate that she had a defence to the original publication and/or its continuing publication.”

Justice Steyn herself added: “I am going to grant permission. It does raise clearly an issue of law that has not been determined previously. There is a real prospect of success on that ground”…

mdi-timer 24 June 2022 @ 15:01 24 Jun 2022 @ 15:01 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
REVEALED: Brexit-Hating, LibDem Husband of Controversial Cadwalladr Decision Judge

Yesterday’s Cadwalladr ruling was confusing at best. While Mrs Justice Steyn ruled the TED Talk Carole Cadwalladr gave was defamatory, she said Banks had failed to prove that its publication caused “serious harm to reputation”. Part of this was based on a belief that Carole’s followers are mainly an #FBPE echo chamber, therefore unlikely to have had their minds changed by the defamatory Russia claim…

It’s since been pointed out to Guido that the husband of Mrs Justice Steyn, Alex Glassbrook, is none other than a Brexit-hating former LibDem candidate who is not unfamiliar with that Twitter echo chamber. Glassbrook stood for the LibDems as their Tooting by-election candidate in 2016, and at the 2017 General Election, where his leaflets said he “was dismayed when our country voted to leave the European Union.”

Justice Steyn, first name Karen, was loyaly supportive of her husband’s electoral efforts. Her Twitter account shows her delighting in the LibDems’ potential at the 2017 election, and retweeting a photo of her husband at a husting where he “brilliantly [represented] #LibDems”

Guido has no intention of impugning the integrity of the judge in this case – just observing that it would have been very fraught over last night’s dinner table had she ruled in favour of the “Hard Brexit” backer her husband pledged to fight…

mdi-timer 14 June 2022 @ 15:43 14 Jun 2022 @ 15:43 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Judge Rules Cadwalladr Claims of Russian Backing for Banks Were Defamatory, Awards No Damages

Mrs Justice Steyn has ruled that a TED Talk given by Carole Cadwalladr was defamatory, though Banks failed to prove that “the publication of the TED Talk from 29 April 2020 caused and/or is likely to cause serious harm to his reputation.” He was as a consequence awarded no damages.

The judgement ruled that “there was a significant change of circumstances once … the National Crime Agency” investigation cleared Banks and her public interest defence ceased to apply after that finding. Banks was sanguine, publicly tweeting “Congratulations to Carole on winning today, it leaves open for the journalist the excuse that she thought what she said was correct even though she had no facts. There are important points of law at stake here and we will likely appeal.” For Banks it was never really about money and winning damages – she would have been bankrupted, if she had to pay anyway. It was about clearing his name in court once and for all.

The Judge also dismissed Cadwalladr’s bluster from when she was trying to frame the case as a “freedom of the press” issue, that this was a SLAPP suit:

9. Ms Cadwalladr has repeatedly labelled this claim a SLAPP suit, that is a strategic lawsuit against public participation, designed to silence and intimidate her. Although, for the reasons I have given, Mr Banks’s claim has failed, his attempt to seek vindication through these proceedings was, in my judgment, legitimate. In circumstances where Ms Cadwalladr has no defence of truth, and her defence of public interest has succeeded only in part, it is neither fair nor apt to describe this as a SLAPP suit.

That was always nonsense.

Crucially Justice Steyn ruled

“it may reasonably be inferred that the vast majority of the defendant’s followers on Twitter “are likely to be persons within her own echo chamber” and “it’s probably right that they wouldn’t have thought very much of [the claimant] by that time”. In my judgment, those within the jurisdiction to whom the Tweet was published are likely to consist of people whose opinion of the claimant was of no consequence to him.

The claimant’s case on this issue is essentially dependent on drawing an inference of serious harm from the combination of the gravity of the imputation and the extent of publication. While I have been persuaded, on balance, to draw such an inference in relation to the TED Talk, in my judgment, the claimant has not established that the Tweet caused (or is likely to cause) serious harm to Mr Banks’s reputation.”

In other words Carole Cadwalladr’s #FBPE echo chamber on Twitter constantly repeating deranged allegations does not constitute “serious harm”. “Defamatory tweets don’t matter” is an extraordinary ruling in an age where social media dominates public discourse…

Full judgement Banks v Cadwalladr.
UPDATE: Banks has released a statement on the result:

Read More

mdi-timer 13 June 2022 @ 10:37 13 Jun 2022 @ 10:37 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Carole’s Quiet Crowdfunder Switcheroo

Usually-prolific tweeter Carole Cadwalladr has been mysteriously quiet since Guido revealed she’d been unlawfully soliciting crowd-raised funds via her struck-off company, We The Citizens Ltd. When Guido went to pixel, her active crowdfunding page was still soliciting and taking donations. Today it still is, albeit with one quiet change…

The registered beneficiary of the page has been switched from the struck off We The Citizens Ltd. to All The Citizens.

“We the Citizens Limited” filed to strike off on January 12, 2022 and was struck off on April 12, 2022. During the period when by law the company should have ceased all activity – which pre-dates the file off date by 3 months – she used it to raise thousands of pounds to fund the “upcoming trial, and the preparation for the trial, are the most expensive parts of the litigation. I would be very grateful for any further donations to assist me with this crucial stage, or if you could share this fundraiser with your networks” according to a written statement by Cadwalladr on the crowdfunder dated January 14, 2022.  Guido’s understanding of the law is that all those funds were solicited improperly and legally should be the property of the crown.

Last night following our story, Carole updated her crowdfunding page to confess to breaching the Companies Act:

“Meanwhile, there’s a housekeeping update: we’ve moved the money into a ring fenced bank account with the Citizens as of January 2022. This is a registered company All the Citizens which houses the media non-profit, I set up two years ago. If I lose, this goes to Banks. If I win, I intend to offer anyone who donated the option of being refunded. Otherwise, it goes to the Citizens where it will be used to fund more vital investigative journalism.”

A company filing for dissolution must be inactive for 3 months, not soliciting revenue or spending it. Awkward.

Guido was particularly amused to see, among the overnight donors, one named Alan Simpson donating £20 along with the message, “Guido had another go at you. Good luck.” Guido is happy to take Carole’s quiet change as an admission our legal analysis is correct…

mdi-timer 14 April 2022 @ 10:34 14 Apr 2022 @ 10:34 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Carole Crowdfunded Her Legal Costs Unlawfully

Co-conspirators have pointed out that Carole Cadwalladr’s campaign company “We the Citizens Limited” has been struck off the register at Companies House. This has been done deliberately and not through incompetence or from failing to make filings. The company was used as an umbrella for Carole’s various campaigns and causes that seem to be coming to a close. Or at least they are coming to a close via this vehicle.

Legally, under the Companies Act, once a company strike off form has been filed the company can no longer trade or be involved in any other business activities. For all intents and purposes, the business is closed. If your company does continue doing business, you could face severe penalties. These penalties can include a directorship ban for up to 15 years. All company assets that have not been distributed before dissolving the company become the property of the crown, via ‘bona vacantia’. So it is important to make sure all the company’s financial affairs are in order in advance of the strike off filing.

“We the Citizens Limited” filed to strike off on January 12, 2022 and was struck off yesterday, April 12, 2022. During the period when the company should have ceased all activity she used it to raise thousands of pounds to fund the “upcoming trial, and the preparation for the trial, are the most expensive parts of the litigation. I would be very grateful for any further donations to assist me with this crucial stage, or if you could share this fundraiser with your networks” according to a written statement by Cadwalladr on the crowdfunder dated January 14, 2022.  Guido’s understanding of the law is that all those funds were solicited improperly and legally should be the property of the crown.

The – at the time of publication – active crowdfunding page is still soliciting and taking donations, even today. Guido has contacted GoFundMe about this matter. They are considering what to do…

mdi-timer 13 April 2022 @ 16:45 13 Apr 2022 @ 16:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
About That “Guido Advised Russian Embassy” Claim

It should go without saying that it is untrue that I worked for the Kremlin, or advised the Russian embassy or, bizarrely, organised events at the Russian embassy. It appears however it has to be said. This claim has been circulating on Twitter and the loonier fringes of the internet for years, was alluded to in Private Eye and is often repeated by the likes of Carole Cadwalladr. Which explains in part my animus towards her and sympathy for Arron Banks on this point. She yesterday tweeted about me having “links to the Kremlin”. It’s nuts and for years I have said so plainly.

Back in 2018 I wrote an article for The Spectator about the unsuccessful wooing operation of the Russian embassy. The kernel of the story conspiracy theorists, and consequently now I, want to focus on is an event at the Russian embassy in 2013 which some claim I organised. It was called a digital BBQ by the embassy and was in fact organised by Mark Flanagan, the former Downing Street communications chief and Jimmy Leach, the former head of digital at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, who were both working for Portland, the PR firm which had the Russian government account at the time. There were I think a series of these events and the one I attended had Tom Whitwell, the head of digital operations at The Times and Sunday Times, the then Conservative MP Douglas Carswell and myself on the panel. The ambassador Alexander Yakovenko was the master of ceremonies.

As I recall, Tom Whitwell spoke optimistically about the potential of the internet for democracy, Douglas Carswell spoke about his theory of i-Democracy and it was all very platitudinous. When it came to my turn it did not go so smoothly. Yakovenko asked me “What can we do to encourage the bloggers in Russia?” To which I replied, “Stop locking them up”. I tried to make a positive argument that if Russia really wanted to thaw relations with the West, this was a bad look – this was a period when the West was trying to engage with Russia, before 2014 and the sanctions that followed the Crimea annexation. We immediately got into a row about Alex Navalny, who was then, as now, in jail. The ambassador lied that Navalny was guilty of financial fraud and I did not understand the situation, which I disputed and the acrimonious session came to a very British embarrassing halt. A few in the audience came up to me afterwards and told me they were glad someone addressed the elephant in the room. If you don’t want to take my word for it, and the likes of Carole Cadwalladr very much don’t, there were journalists there:

Incidentally, a few years before in 2011 the Foreign Office invited me to give a presentation to a delegation from the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Ministry of Information, on a similar theme. I made the same argument as to why it might be in their regime’s interests to allow more freedom on the internet, because they would get feedback which could improve things. I recount this only to illustrate my attitude to engaging with undemocratic regimes I oppose, at the request of Foreign Office officials, be they current or former. It ended as I recall in some uproar as my final Powerpoint slide called for the release of the then imprisoned Ai Weiwei… 

As someone on the receiving end of writ threats as an occupational hazard, it is not my inclination to sue for defamation, this internet meme that I advised the Kremlin is clearly defamatory, particularly so in the contemporary context. The only advice I gave them was unpaid, in public and it was to free Alexi Navalny and stop locking up political opponents. I’m proud of that advice and would tell them the same today.

Paul Staines

mdi-timer 12 March 2022 @ 12:09 12 Mar 2022 @ 12:09 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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