Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman, who were accused “subjecting a vulnerable 16-year-old girl to repeated harassment and abuse”, have won the first round of a High Court libel case.
Countdown presenter Ms Riley and actress Ms Oberman had brought the case against barrister Jane Heybroek, who in January shared an article accusing them of having “harassed, dogpiled and slandered a 16-year-old child and her father.”
The High Court’s Justice Jay issued a preliminary ruling on Tuesday about whether the article was defamatory. Mr Jay ruled that they were “sufficiently serious” and that Ms Oberman and Ms Riley’s reputations “will have been lowered in the eyes of the likely readership.”
“That issue remains to be determined, either at trial or before,” Ms Heybroek said.
“I am also pleased that, at long last, the background to this case is being revealed through a fair judicial process.”
“Putting the issues of law to one side, this case is not about antisemitism, either in the Labour party or more generally,” she added.
“Rather it is about a commentary on the actions of two celebrities (with massive Twitter followings between) towards a 16-year-old girl,” she concluded.
Ms Heybroek also said that she was “satisfied with the outcome of this hearing” as it had “removed some of the more hyperbolic contentions being made”.
Justice Jay had narrowed the meaning of the claims being brought.
Ms Heybroek, who is a backer of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has crowdsourced more than £30,000 in legal fees from supporters online.
Both Ms Riley and Ms Oberman have been high-profile activists online against antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Ms Riley won two preliminary hearings into claims that she was libelled online by blogger Mike Sivier and former adviser to Jeremy Corbyn Laura Murray.
All the libel cases continue.