By Mathew Carr
June 13, 2022: CarrZee opinion: This result from the High Court (see decision published below) may lower the chance journalists are harassed in the future by rich people. But the result is mixed.
Summary From the Guardian: The multimillionaire Brexit backer Arron Banks has lost his libel action against the Observer and Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr, which was criticised as an attack on free speech.
Banks, who funded the pro-Brexit Leave.EU campaign group, sued Cadwalladr personally over two instances in which she said the businessman was lying about his relationship with the Russian state – one in a Ted Talk and the other in a tweet.
Her lawyer Gavin Millar QC had argued the case was an attempt to silence the journalist’s reporting on “matters of the highest public interest”, namely campaign finance, foreign money and the use of social media messaging and personal data in the context of the EU referendum.
Campaigners for free speech and press freedom characterised the claim as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (Slapp — also known as lawfare) – an attempt to shut down public criticism.
[CarrZee: the judgement said this re the SLAPP allegation:
“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.]
If Banks had won the case, Cadwalladr faced being liable for his costs, estimated at between £750,000 and £1m, together with any resultant damages, the Guardian said.
(Note: Mathew Carr is in a unfair dismissal / whistleblowing dispute with his former employer Bloomberg LP)